God of War, the standout game of 2018, almost used Mayan and Greek mythology to form the basis of its story, as opposed to Norse mythology.
In a new interview with Finder, level designer Rob Davis and game director Cory Barlog explained that the team, Santa Monica Studio, “looked at everything” for the basis of the project’s story, before deciding it was a two horse race “between Egyptian and Norse mythology.” The Aztec and Mayan mythologies were also researched extensively, but the developer decided that “it was not there yet” in terms of doing that complex mythology justice.
Setting the game in Scandinavia also made logistical sense, given Kratos’s deicidal tendencies in Greece. Egypt would have simply been too close to Greece, especially since the aesthetics of Egypt and Greece are more similar to those of the Mediterranean and Norse countries. Barlog expanded upon that sentiment, stating, “[Kratos] has a pretty bad history in Greece, he’s going to want to put a lot of distance between himself and his past. Scandinavia allowed for that distance and really put him as a stranger in a strange land. That fish out of water idea.”
The decision was solidified by Barlog’s own travels to Sweden, wherein the designer explained he was “so lost,” and began to meditate on how being lost in translation could benefit Kratos’s character:
“When I went to Scandinavia and I was surrounded by people [who] spoke Swedish, I was so lost. I think that sense of being lost is a fantastic power switch. To take this character that’s been so well-known for being a power fantasy and putting him in a situation where power can’t solve the problem but intellect can, was fascinating. Intellect is what this nine-year-old kid has.”
The game went through several revisions, including one version of the game that proposed Kratos would fight alongside his wife as opposed to his son.