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The unexpected synergies that come from being “polite” with your source material (God of War and Senua’s Sacrifice are masterpieces and together are even more than that).

Gamingtodaynews1b - The unexpected synergies that come from being "polite" with your source material (God of War and Senua's Sacrifice are masterpieces and together are even more than that).
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I just replayed God of War 2018. And now I'm starting a replay of Senua's Sacrifice (yeah, I'm on a Norse Mythology kick and I'm gratifying it, ha).

Skipping some lines here to prevent spoilers from showing in the Reddit feed…

Both games are what I would call "polite" with Norse Mythology. They tell their own tales, but they do so in ways that could conceivably make them actual parts of Norse Mythology. Kratos is Farbauti and raised Loki? The name "Farbauti" even means "anger striker" in old Norse. Even the mythological character has a name that would be appropriate for Kratos as a nickname.

And Senua's Sacrifice, as far as I can tell, is extra polite with the mythology. It's an individual tale that doesn't even touch the source material. It just takes a comfortable seat inside it. Valravn and Surtr being the guardian gods of Hel seem like liberties, but they also could just be obscure nuggets from the mythology. Like maybe "A valravn" stood guard in the lore, but the game makes it a god instead?

Anyway.

What's really tickling me right now are Druth's guiding words for Senua as she journeys into and through Helheim. He explains what she's seeing. The state of things in Hel. And he drops some nuggets that, because Senua's Sacrifice and God of War both take the mythology seriously, function as sorts of teasers for where God of War might be going. It feels like God of War was the first installment, and now Senua's Sacrifice is a side story that takes place after the 5th installment. Like now I'm way in the future looking at the aftermath of Kratos's and Atreus's story.

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First of all, Druth points out that Hela (goddess of Helheim) is Loki's daughter. That she's decaying and horrid and was cast out of Asgard because the Asgard gods couldn't stand her. Her fate is to lord over the souls people who died for "bad reasons" like sickness, age and suicide.

Then it gets into Loki, himself. Druth mentions that Hela's bloodline is feared and hated on both her father's and mother's sides. But ESPECIALLY her father's side. That's Kratos's side. So, I'm wondering if the story is going to get extremely dark for Kratos and Atreus in the coming installments of God of War.

Is Kratos going to fail as a parent? Will Atreus fail as a son? What inspires the realms to hate Hela and her parents and their parents?

My point here is that, when multiple stories both share and respect a collection of source material (here: Norse Mythology), they can all start to feed one another. You play God of War and get this inspiring story about Kratos getting to know is son and Atreus getting to know himself. And then you play Senua's Sacrifice and see "Atreus's" daughter as a horrid, decaying, universally feared monster giant in Hel with a cursed bloodline.

My God of War experience has heightened my enjoyment of Senua's Sacrifice. And Senua's Sacrifice is making me wonder where God of War is going next. These are two sources of enjoyment IN ADDITION to those that are intrinsic to each work. God of War by itself is a wonderful story about family and parenting, and Senua's Sacrifice is a stirring tale of self loathing and redemption.

While cribbing from pre-written material is sometimes a drag (i.e. it's unoriginal and doesn't say anything new), I'm seeing with these two games how it can be wonderful.

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