But one detail in particular tickled me, for the insight it gives into how God of War thinks of its pantheons; how they aren’t cemented deities, but evolutions of beliefs that existed long before them, but in a different corner of the world.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for God of War.]
You might not have heard this conversation where Atreus asks Mimir how he came to be in the Norselands. It’s an easy detail to miss, unless you’re me, a well-known completionist, and you play so much God of War that Mimir finally runs out of stories.
“Lad,” Mimir drawls, “there’s a time in every man’s life when he changes his name and heads north to make a new start. If you live long enough to do this many times over, you might end up as far north as this place.”
But that’s just a tidbit compared to Mimir’s tale of the first lord he served, before Odin, from whom he says he learned “the enduring power of wit.”
You can listen to the full story below:
“I couldn’t have been much older than you when I started,” Mimir tells Atreus. “A faerie king’s errand boy and unofficial jester. By night, my mates and I had the run of the forest. Goodfellows, they called us — knavish sprites to the last. We’d get up to all manner of mischief, making fools of the local mortals, but as long as our lord was kept amused, we were spared the consequences. [happy sigh] Then one day he was not amused, and I saw fit to move on.”
The vital bit here is what Mimir says he was called in his younger days. That’s a dead ringer for another mythical figure: Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, a mischievous but sometimes helpful sprite in English folklore. If you’re a Shakespeare buff, you’ll know him as a crafty servant of King Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Mimir is saying that he’s Puck. And that means that, just like Kratos, he’s originally from another mythological pantheon, and another land. Kratos’ migration from the domain of the Greek pantheon to the Norse isn’t an outlier — deific migration is just part and parcel of the wider God of War world.
This also explains why Mimir has a Scottish accent: He’s from the British Isles.
Norse sources can be surprisingly thin, especially if you’re used to the comparatively robust records we have of what and how the Greco-Roman peoples worshipped, for example. Still, God of War’s take on Norse mythology is somewhat loose — although not as loose as some others’. But with Mimir’s and Kratos’ wanderings, the game actually mimics the way real mythological concepts can spread.
In the ancient world, if the Greeks worshipped a warrior/creator goddess, say, Athena, and noticed that their neighbors worshipped war and creation goddesses like Ishtar or Inanna, they didn’t start yelling about how their goddess was better. Instead, they went, “Oh, I bet they’re the same god in a different aspect. We’ll adopt some of your practices.” Multiple scholars believe that the source of Athena’s strange birth straight from the cracked-open head of Zeus is derived from myths surrounding Inanna.
What does this mean? Well, like everything else in God of War, it shows that the folks behind the game know their stuff. And who knows? It could even hint at the future of the franchise.
Because if Puck can strike out north and become a Norse god, there’s no reason Kratos couldn’t find his own place as well.