|Doing fun stuff with giant monsters is a great excercise in insanity.|
I'm a aspiring artist from Washington that specializes in traditional drawings and digital coloring and effects. I've had semi-professional experience with tattoo, graphic design and illustration with some basic knowledge of commission work.|
A lot of what I do centers around classic fantasy, mythology, giant monster related science fiction (kaiju) and critters of all kinds.
- Raifu: *status pending*
- DCOFL: 'compiled narrative and synopsis conclusion' *in progress*
- 'Hot Shit new AU that doesn't have a proper name yet' *in progress - Day One*
Salaruis Wins is a cross fictional, multiversal, satirical collab project between me and SirKaijuOfVaudeville.
You can check it out here:
So just about three entire months came and went, furk yeah. This is what happens when you have no formal schedule in your life anymore. Along the way Sir K and I managed to wrangle ourselves into this new hotness AU that is of a much smaller scale and thus less of a massive depression in space time that consumes a good fraction of my creative impulse. And by less I mean less world building and more character on character lulz. Like a white hot injection of schadenfreude into our mutual cultural consciousness. It's still a tentative little sandbox that's more of a love letter to one of our favorite authors than anything else but it's fun. Now if only I could get over this herculean mole hill that is character introduction and dialogue set up for thirteen odd groups all gathered around the world's greatest metaphysical menstrual cramp.
On the drawing front I've made 'something' that shall be colored sooner or later and set aside for KAS. Said something is somewhat reflective of its canon counterpart, somewhat not. Something of an alternate flash backwards of the character.
As I sit here reflecting on my many blessings and lack of actual life progress, I figure I'll go ahead and mentally vomit an inner monologue about a series that I've played for a long time. One that's widely criticized and sometimes justifiably so. I speak of the God of War series by Santa Monica Studios.
My introduction to God of War and the apocalyptic modern epic that is Kratos began with the first one. Back in that pensively expectant time we call High School. My love of mythology, symbolism and action adventure games lured me in and convinced me to acquire a PS2. The first Sony system I have ever had as until that point I was a fairly sheltered Nintendo kid. So God of War for me was the beginning of new era of visceral spectacle. Unabashed brutality, QTE's and a swift difficulty spike woven around this deconstruction of Greek Mythology and the very archetypes that it has brought back into modern thought. Though I'm pretty sure the habit of using lots of dirt and Vaseline on everything is something Hollywood came to on its own. As with many I read, once I actually got into the narrative and experience God of War offered I was invested and seeing how it all ended. Through the various entries that have gone both forward and backward chronologically through Kratos's life, I've come to glean a satisfaction and a few theories from the ultimate beginning and conclusion of God of War, though game play wise I think GoW2 was the best followed by 1 and 3. The handhelds tagging along jointly at 4th and Ascension being last. The only God of War I have not played was the little Indie unmake and that strange mobile game that I hardly knew existed for some time. I have to warn you that these are just some of my personal thoughts on how the world and story of God of War worked and why certain things were the way they were. Not much in the way of proof other than interpretation and what the series gives you. Looking too deeply into some things probably happened at one point or another.
So let's start with the main character himself, Kratos. Demigod, Ghost of Sparta, ex-family man and all around whirlwind of chaos and anti-heroism that systematically tears down the ancient Greek world in his struggle to be free of it. It's a personal belief of mine that a majority of narratives are all tinted in reference to the protagonist. The aesthetic of the setting thus being more or less reflected through the protagonist themselves and thus providing the story a sense of visual unity. His design has become iconic for both its visceral simplicity and the way it captures the essence of the setting. The unrelenting strength and brutality of Kratos is refracted throughout the God of War series and in every monster he faces, every environment he explores and every character he engages. Kratos is a deconstruction of the classic Greek hero. Having many of the same and similar traits but ultimately driving those traits in a very different direction. While classic heroes rose above their more destructive or petty impulses to perform routine Chthonic cleansing of the world at least once in their lives before being encapsulated in legend, Kratos instead becomes a Byronic Hero in the way Greece would have known such a person. He is an antihero so far off the scale that if he were not the protagonist he would be considered the villain. It's a common conception that Kratos is basically the ultimate Caucasian, straight, young man's power fantasy cranked to eleven and caught in an eternal state of roid-rage. It's easy to dismiss Kratos as just that but there is much more to the Ghost of Sparta then the sum of his quick time events. For me, Kratos is an example of the human condition when it has been repressed by divine fallacy and hypocrisy for too long. His entire life and journey is an escalating chain of moments where the Gods of Olympus repeatedly interfere and unabashedly try to manipulate him to do their bidding with outlandish consequences to Kratos himself and eventually the entire world as they know it.
Another common criticism of Kratos is that he is easily duped into these situations. However one has to look at the big picture of the setting that God of War takes place in. Kratos for a large majority of his life believes himself to be utterly mortal. An exceptional warrior but still mortal. All mortals are beholden to the often archaic, inscrutable and selfish whims of the gods. This is a world where the gods act as lynchpins for entire spheres of nature. The sky, the sea, the underworld, the sun, warfare both savage and civil, death and dreams, all are included in a group of beings that has steadily given more and more focused avatars for every concept in creation. The basic take on the setting is pretty true to myth for the most part give or take an interpretation. Basically the line of ascension goes Primordial's, Titans, Gods, Demi-Gods, Humanity. With some third parties like The Fates, The Furies, and the many monsters scattered about the world or corralled into various armies ruled by these third parties or the immortals, acting as instigators or manipulators of everyone else. Mind you, the entire world is run by these people. Humanity might as well be livestock bent toward every purpose imaginable; because that's the way it was in Greek Mythology. There are several major factors that lead Kratos down the road of one man apocalypse that he ultimately becomes but the biggest is that he is treated like a useful tool at best and a dangerous element to contained or destroyed at worst. The latter happening more and more often as Kratos is repeatedly denied the solace and peace of mind he desperately needs regardless of the epic accomplishments and fantastic hardships he overcomes. Kratos's name means 'power' and there was in fact such an individual in myth that served as an enforcer for the will of the gods. The case is similar but ultimately the difference is that the immortals in God of War are not simply aloof, selfish but generally well meaning entities beyond human morality. They are deconstructed to the point of being truly inhuman and monstrous in their own right. Much like the various characters in God of War Kratos personifies something, in this case it's power. The relationship he has with the Gods and then the Titans and both in the end illustrates that he is never an equal, an ally or even a person really. To the immortals Kratos is a tool to further or protect their own interests. Kratos himself has grown up in a society that has had this browbeaten into them since the dawn of creation and he can't be expected to seriously consider total rebellion until he is left with no other option. The chain blades are more than just a physical representation of his servitude to the gods, they are a symbolic link to the sort of relationship the Gods keep with the mortals that coexist with them and thus serve as a sort of physical allegory for Kratos's bondage not only to his past which has been orchestrated by their hands since birth, but to his future which as long as they exist remains fruitlessly out of his reach. Mankind is at the total mercy of these immortal and often immoral forces that give capricious life to otherwise natural forces that Mankind must appease. Everything has been setup so that Kratos would be drawn into the service of the Gods regardless of his consent. Kratos is a Spartan, perhaps a paragon of the Sparta ideology, and the Spartan's patron god is Ares the God of War. So faced with an angry Barbarian King and his horde, about to taste bitter defeat and knowing that his people and by extension family would have to suffer their unchecked deprivations, Kratos cries out to Ares and makes the rather Faustian pact that firmly places him on the path to becoming the Ghost of Sparta. There is the personal perspective of Kratos having gotten a taste of the power an immortal wields as a child, being rendered utterly insignificant by it, losing what family he had in short order and thus being prodded into seeing strength in itself as the highest virtue. In Sparta this is an essential attitude in becoming a functional member of society. For Kratos it served to make him an exceptional one. For Kratos it stands that if you do not have the strength to keep what you hold dear then you cannot and will not be allowed to keep it. Strength and power are thus seen as instrumental to obtaining any form of happiness in this world. However, strength and power are not the same thing and this is something Kratos discovers too late and pays the ultimate price for. As for Ares, strength makes a durable pawn but a powerful one gets results and to achieve one particular result, Ares and The Furies devise the threefold trap that results in Kratos becoming the perfect mortal engine of destruction that can bring the current world order to its knees. The level of betrayal involved goes farther than the simple act of Kratos butchering his own family. Kratos's patron god, who represents Sparta's highest ideals, and has been given Kratos's life in service, effectively breeches the fundamental trust, faith and agreement of his pact with Kratos. Kratos gave HIS life, not that of his family and was never asked to make this sacrifice but rather deceived into doing so. The blood rage that was so empowering and a sign of divine influence is twisted in such a way that it becomes a cruel joke where it used to bring glory. Kratos would have had no reason to doubt the intentions of his God, why would he? Ares is the god of battle and war, such deception is commonly the cruel jest of other Olympians to pay back mortals for slights against them. If anyone would have real cause to punish Kratos in this fashion it would actually be Athena, Ares's sister and greatest rival whose temple is where the dirty deed takes place. Instead she is the goddess that 'rehabilitates' Kratos in what must be a notable level of irony.
To further expand on how nasty this particular offense is, beyond the simple murder of one's family, is that The Furies actively advocated this result. The Furies (or Erinyes) were ancient, female but extremely terror inducing entities that in myth were a result of Uranus (the sky) getting castrated by his Titan son Cronus on behalf of his mother Gaia (the earth). They were formed from the blood of his severed scrotum which went a long way toward forming the rationale of The Furies. Another possible source was from the Nyx (night) but regardless they are always of Primordial origin. Named after the Greek words for anger (Alecto), jealousy (Megaera) and Vengeance (Tisiphone) these particular three Furies are arbiters of justice that relentlessly hounded and punished those who committed the most grievous of crimes according to Greek society and often at the behest of Hades who they swore allegiance to and lived in the underworld when not seeking living culprits, punishing the damned. The biggest ones being the breaking of oaths, being a terrible host and the three worst forms of murder: parricide, fratricide and homicide. They also punished those who committed crimes that resonated with their namesakes such as crimes of hatred, jealousy, infidelity, and murder of one's family, especially patricide which was considered, beyond the breaking of oaths, the absolute worst crime imaginable.
Now imagine the God of War deconstruction of these terrifying but fair female bounty hunters of the guilty, whose authority like the Sisters of Fate could not denied or defied without just cause; even by the Gods. In God of War The Furies 'used to be' fair but after courting Ares for reasons that reek of self esteem issues (see Maleficent's outrage over not being invited to parties) The Furies are a thoroughly jaded, hypocritical and outright malicious neo-feminists that proceed to throw out any sort of honor or integrity they might have otherwise possessed simply to appease Ares's desire for a super soldier with which to tackle the Olympian hierarchy as Gods are forbidden from fighting other Gods (and also because that would be like committing nearly every sin the Greek book in one fell swoop). Kratos is lead to kill his enemies, innocents and finally his own family in order to basically dehumanize him to the point where he has no emotional weaknesses or liabilities. A man with nothing to live for but carnage and nothing to lose but his own life. To the disappointment of Ares however, this backfires horribly and instead of transforming Kratos in a crucible of blood, only serves to disillusion him from a lifetime of believing in the Spartan ideal. A man that has the literal ashes of his victims and family infused into his flesh, turning him into the grumpy albino we know and love. At the very beginning of his journey, Kratos knows that he has been wronged, that he has committed one of the worst wrongs imaginable, but he can't wrap his head around really how or WHY this has happened to him. Did he not do his God's will? Did he not slay the rivals of Sparta? Did he not leave his family in entirely different region than the one he was torching that day? It's hinted at that Kratos recognizes that he's been screwed super hard and actually approached or was approached by The Furies about this. However Orthos their oath keeper and 'failure' of a son tells Kratos that was has been done can never be undone, at which point Kratos falls to his knees in despair. One can take away from this that this is the start of Kratos's penchant for resorting to suicide to finally absolve the massive fuck up that his is life at this point. If The Furies were of a sound moral disposition they would heckling him relentlessly for either atonement or death...and then more judgment after he is dead and would not be shy about the colossal fuck up that is killing his own family even by accident. Heracles was in a similar pinch and had to do 12 labors to absolve himself. Unlike Kratos however Heracles did not have to be conned against his will to serve the one that drove him briefly berserk (Hera). Kratos is instead driven steadily more insane until he can hardly tell illusion from reality and has largely forgotten the exact details of his family's death other than that Ares had something to do with it. Orthos, having already been a victim of this conspiracy between Ares and his 'mothers' (how's that for progressive) twice over finally bucks the yolk when he recognizes how unjust this is for the Spartan and thus resolves to help him 'find the truth' which sets about the plot of Ascension (fun little janky romp with silly game changes that one was). So while Ares ultimately executed the plan, The Furies engineered it and are its fundamental source...resulting in their ensuing death. It is because The Furies stopped doing what they were supposed to and went against everything there were supposed to stand for that Kratos's life took that particular turn (Though Alrik via Hades and The Fates via the Marked One Prophecy are also prominent keystones in the how the world has fucked with Kratos). This would lead to Kratos's penchant for hunting down anyone that tried to overtly control him or hide things from him. The world the Olympians ruled was made of figurative cardboard and Kratos was the blowtorch that would enact the self fulfilling prophecy the Gods feared. His escalating acts of savagery and murder are retaliation against their efforts to control and neutralize him. Even in his final, perhaps most insane incarnation at the end of his journey, Kratos still relentlessly fights against these forces trying to contain him and I've come to think that Kratos's struggle is not so much about 'Hope' as it is free will and mankind's struggle with ultimately deciding between security and order or chaos and freedom. Order and Chaos being a central theme in Greek Mythology and thus God of War itself. In the end Kratos chooses the latter over the former as not only is there nothing else left but Chaos despite the damages has the possibility of creating anew while the cycle of the immortals, now broken, lead only to heavy handed stagnation and rot. The world is now free for mankind to inherit...once it manages to pull itself back out of the abyss and nature sorts itself out after eons of being controlled and regulated by super beings.
My second thought concerning the God of War series is that there is a bit of subtle 'Megamaning' involved. I've already mentioned that characters in the series often embody something. Throughout his journey Kratos kills a lot of things, the most infamous of which are pretty much every single significant Greek god, the Titans that came before them, some of the left over Primordial's that came before even THEM and pretty much the entire bestiary of the Mediterranean....several famous Greek heroes and demigods and countless undead and living people as either intentional or collateral damage with the cherry on top of this murder sundae being himself. From what I've seen Kratos appears to adopt if not outright assimilate these embodiments as he kills the beings that possess them. His first major kills are The Furies which are Hatred, Jealousy and Vengeance personified. Megaera is the first taken out as a physical obstacle and her 'envy' towards everything is basically the gateway drug for Kratos tearing shit away from his adversaries and using it for himself. Next is Tisiphone whose aspect of 'Vengeance' goes without saying. Then at last there is Alecto whose 'Hatred' would continue to drive and fuel Kratos's vendetta's for years to come. The Furies unintentionally succeed in reforging Kratos, already a hardened warrior, into the brutal one man god destroyer that would take down Olympus...maybe not as planned but ultimately the 'goal' is achieved. After that he flattens Charon and then Persephone, which makes his subsequent journeys to the Underworld simpler in retrospect. Then he finally gets to slay Ares and becomes 'war'. Assumes the title and everything. After that he takes out the daughter of Thanatos, Erinys (in myth another name for the Furies) who represents 'pain' and thus furthers both Kratos's resilience and his brutality. This would ultimately result in him killing Thanatos and practically spelling it out for us in that he has become 'Death'. Ceryx is something of a minor conquest but is a 'messenger', further increasing Kratos's capacity as a vessel for these things that he kills. Not long after that he begins to hunt Zeus and in the process takes down The Fates, taking command of his own destiny. He accidentally kills Athena but whether he truly takes 'Wisdom' or not is up for interpretation. It is likely to be under the same sort of vein as Hope, something he just subconsciously carried but could never really call upon thanks to his immense baggage. On Olympus Kratos does face perhaps his most daunting challenges yet both in combat and as trails so perhaps Athena's wisdom was embraced on a more tactical level which being the experienced warrior Kratos is, is a venue he actually embraces out of necessity to progress. It's also possible that with Athena's strange new existence after her death that she had not entirely abandoned what she was and any benefit to Kratos's sanity would not have factored into what Kratos took away from the experience. Upon assaulting Olympus he claims Poseidon and thus the Seas. He executes Hades and thus the Afterlife in totality. He takes out Helios and thus claims the sun, followed by Hermes who had among other things 'speed' and 'medicine'. A majority of these up to this point are such vast realms that Kratos can only really utilize a fraction on them in the form of a weapon in the case of Hades or a tool in the case of Helios's severed head and Hermes's boots. Others are simply left to spiral out of control as Kratos has neither the frame of mind or experience to tap into these things though in his mad drive to corner Zeus the natural world may be in total upheaval as a subconscious effort on Kratos's part to give Zeus no place on earth to flee. There are specific spots that Kratos can gaze out and observe the apocalyptic spectacle he has wrought and he seems more or less content with what's going on. Heracles is next and with the Cestus Kratos claims 'strength'. Kratos declines 'love' in either a literal or mercenary sense as Aphrodite is spared any truly violent ends by Kratos personally. Cronus is taken down along with several other Titans dealt with by Kratos personally which only serves to increase his domination (undoing) of the natural world. Hephaestus follows and it's little wonder that 'Hope' for which Hephaestus forged a vessel for, takes the form of a flame when Kratos finally unleashes it as Hephaestus is not only the god of smiths but also the god of fire. A fire that Kratos can now wield without fear of destruction. Gaia is caught up in Kratos's struggle and soon meets her end as well. With no further obstacles the last to fall is Zeus and with Zeus's demise all of creation, lightning and all beneath the sky are now left for Kratos to do with as he sees fit. Heaven and Earth are quite literally at his feet...and yet at the end he must contend with one last obstacle and that is the new world order that Athena attempts to establish. This last chain is broken when Kratos finally invokes his final solution and renders Athena's entire scheme fruitless. With much of what he obtained released in a mighty pillar of self sacrifice, Kratos is left spent and finally ready to die. Though whether or not he was truly able to after crawling off the cliff one more time is up for debate.
Kratos's madness fueled murder spree of these ancient and powerful beings serves to take these central aspects of creation that they embody and abuse and ultimately release them back into the world free of 'divine influence'. Thus while Kratos may have epically torn the world apart and left it a calamitous mess before exiting stage left, he did so with the unintentional side effect of leaving it utterly free of the meddling influences of a higher power that can actually demand and threaten mankind for obedience and worship. It's fitting that Kratos's story and Greek Mythology along with it, ends with a biblical flood and a slate wiped clean. The Fates predicted the coming of this new world (three wise men in particular) and so despite being perhaps the most horrifically selfish antihero of recent memory, Kratos ultimately gives mankind the chance to take control of their own lives without the meddling of super powered immortals. Athena stands impotent and Kratos's vengeance truly does end.
Another thing that always intrigued me about the setting were the enemies you fight and their changes over the course of the series. Most of the monsters Kratos fights are not there by chance and are actively sent against him as the area barring energy gates suggest; each with their own little flavor. If you compare the enemies from Ascension to the ones encountered in III there is a significant difference in aesthetics. In Ascension and through the first few major ordeals in Kratos's journey, the enemies are more...primal. Their features are woven together and healthy. For The Furies, their minions are both extensions of themselves like the parasites, Empusa and Sirens and as primal manifestations of their particular attributes. Juggernauts are massive elephant men and are among the most temperamental enemies you'll encounter. The Amazons are a relentless challenge that certainly have Alecto's stamp on them. The enemies Kratos faces on his first outing are of a more organic, angry and 'older' bunch than the 'rotted glory' of the undead legionnaires and the classical creatures bent to the will of Olympus and it's gods. There are some obvious personalization for each set of enemies Kratos has to hack his way through. The over arching element is that as Kratos begins killing more and more of these immortal lynchpins in the world order, their creations and armies begin to reflect this. There is something to be said about the differences between Gods and their respective armies. The armies of Ares are loaded with heavy hitters, pyromaniacs and war scarred cannon fodder. They are rough tormented bunch from the get go. Anything from the underworld or in direct employ of Hades is in some way associated with death. They either deliver death, are dead, or sap the vitality from their victims. Anything under Hades's control is going to look well past its expiration date or just fugly in general. Morpheus had largely phantasmal creatures in his employ, wispy wraiths and nightmarish stalkers. The final set of foes on Olympus that Kratos faces embody the 'rotten glory' theme very well. Basically piles of rotting shit decorated with gold leaf but still having a certain pedigree of power. The iconic Cyclopes, a mini boss in its own right for many entries in the series, is a good gauge for estimating how much 'clout' a given group of foes or particular 'arc villain' has. In Ascension you only fight three Cyclops the entire game. In the first God of War you fight a good handful of them and in III you likely fight the most. I take this to mean that Ares 'loaned' The Furies a total of three Cyclopes as a show of support but one that was finite they were currently trying to regain his favor by turning Kratos back to his service at the time. The defense of Olympus and Ares's own military efforts seem to have brought out the most of them, in particular the Cyclopes Enforcers who has been 'modified' into a full on living weapons. Another minor detail is that in keeping in theme with The Furies primordial theme, the Cyclops under their employ have four pronounced fangs and thus more animalistic than the otherwise elephant skinned humanoids that Cyclops have been throughout the series. This would suggest gradual acclimation to one's employer. Even if the Cyclops were of a more standard variety before coming into The Furies employ, it would seem that they devolved slightly while doing so.
This aside, the monsters Kratos faces do not have their typical origins in myth. Considering that Typhon is a icy Titan rather than a father of all monsters, the common origin of many of these creatures is unknown. While we do have major for-bearers and possible originators like Pandora's Guardian (commonly considered the first Minotaur resurrected for his purpose in the temple), the Cyclops Polyphemus (chained up for sport), the Gorgon Sisters (Medusa, Euryale and Stheno), and the Hades Cerberus Breeder (the largest and likely origin of the entire breed), most monsters seem to simply exist to protect or serve in some capacity with little in the way of explanation of where they came from; at least as far as God of War's interpretation of them goes. Some are likely outright creations or punished mortals that have bred true into various types depending on who they serve and where. As the series progresses chronologically and the forces that keep the ancient world running are severed by Kratos's hands, the monsters begin to 'degrade' after a fashion. Some appear emaciated or the parts of them that came together to form their hybrid forms start to become more natural as opposed to the monstrous exaggeration we saw in earlier entries. Graphical improvements aside, the Minotaur is a pretty good indicator for this. The earliest encountered Minotaurs are brutally horrid creatures that might as well be demons. In the depths of Olympus with creation falling apart, despite their armor and weapons, the Minotaurs at that point are bovine humanoids with the larger lower incisors being the last bits of their original form. It would appear that nature is not the only thing that starts coming undone as the Gods fall. All of their creations begin to come undone as well and ultimately go extinct as Kratos slays them for impeding his progress.
Ascension is the most fresh on my mind, being the last God of War game I played officially finishing the series. In terms of game play it took a few steps back what with the locking you out of your main heavy combo by tying it to a rage meter. Having no real reliable way to get armor off of obnoxious grunts that proceed to gang up and chain attack you to death. Having it so petrifying enemies and getting crush bonuses off of them is no longer really feasible or rewarding. Having 1-2 elemental powers that don't really deliver on what they say they do, Ice being the worst in that regard. Parry no longer being all that great except to escape otherwise unavoidable grapples by Gorgons. The shield apparently being the end all be all of side weapon choices due to a glitch in its combos (the hammer is pretty decent when you realize you can hold the button and time the smash accordingly as you move). The story is also kinda hamfisted and rife with potential loopholes which is silly considering it is the earliest playable sequel to the original game. The weirdness of collecting god powers from urn holstering gate rooms all the way to the Oracle's Temple isn't quite as odd as you'd think though. Considering that seeing the Oracle of Delphi is shown and hinted at to be a major pilgrimage of sorts that connects the mortal populace to the whims of the Gods. So each urn room is something of a sequence of trials to prepare and cleanse a person who is making the pilgrimage. Hence the messages that are delivered to Kratos each time he approaches one. Kratos simply takes this process to an extreme by JAMMING HIS BLADES INTO THE URN and absorbing the entirety of its power each time. It's not like there is a line behind him as the area is abandoned due to the Furies wrecking their vengeance on everything having to do with the Oracle for trying to stop their plot. The urn altars are arranged in an order that tempers, tests and prepares the petitioner before meeting the Oracle. So while Kratos hasn't offered his services to the Gods in penance just yet, he's effectively the last pilgrim on this ancient path that the Furies have otherwise tried to block or wipe out entirely. It's ironic that Kratos effectively patches the place back up upon his return from the temple to Kirra.
With that I think I'll lay my thoughts to rest. I don't particularly care for a God of War 4 but if they do continue the series one day, I hope it takes us to a different location with a different character and a new story. We are now starting the new year so let's hope I get something more productive done in the future.