God of War is one of the goriest, brutally violent videogame franchises in the past 20 years. That’s a strong claim, but the series backs it up with one key component. It invites players to be active participants in the most explicit, focused acts of digital violence.
Kratos, our “hero,” is on a mission to kill literally everything in his path. Most of those things are as evil or worse than he is. The main character’s whole schtick is he was tricked into murdering his own family. Now, his body is covered in their ashes. That would drive anyone to murder. His rage and contempt for the gods, and life, in general, leads him to dish out the most savage beatings in gaming history.
Some games would simply show you the worst of the worst in a cutscene. Not God of War. The early 2000s saw the refinement of a revolutionary videogame mechanic that let players participate in the cinematic carnage. These events allowed players to participate in very specific, cinematic acts using quick time events (QTEs), button-mashing sequences, and good old-fashioned gameplay. But God of War took it to the extreme. Here are six of the goriest, player-controlled moments in the God of War franchise.
Eviscerating the Titan Cronos
In God of War 3, Kratos finds his way to the former leader of the Titans, Cronos. Apparently, the giant has a McGuffin called the Omphalos Stone somewhere in his guts. Of course, Kratos simply must have it. How would you go about getting such a thing out of a titan?
Well, if you are Kratos, you jump down his throat, slide down his esophagus using your Blade of Chaos for stability. Then, grab the ridiculously named stone and slice your way out of the massive god using a giant, glowing blue sword named the Blade of Olympus. Simple, right?
Sacrificing Prisoners in a Fire Cage
In the original God of War, Kratos finds himself in a moral quandary in a temple. An environmental puzzle blocks his path, and the only way to get through it is to sacrifice a human.
Lucky for him, and us, there happens to be a heap of trapped Greek soldiers nearby. After a brief exchange in which the soldier begs for his life, players take the wheel, dragging the prisoner to his death.
As an extra layer of irony, you must protect the prisoner from a number of spawning enemies as you guide him to the sacrificial chamber. All so he can die at the right time. It’s all about timing in these games.
The Blinding of Poseidon
God of War 2 is chock full of graphically violent scenes. None are as conflicting as the encounter Kratos has with Poseidon. After rendering the ocean god helpless following an epic boss battle, Kratos, of course, decides to murder him. As the player, you are allowed to beat the fallen god to a pulp. The catch is, many of the moments are from Poseidon’s perspective.
You are essentially kicking your own ass. After a prolonged beating, Kratos ends the subversive whooping by jamming his giant, god-murdering thumbs deep into Poseidon’s eyes. This ultimately ends the perspective change. Oh, and Poseidon’s life.
Exposing the Brain of an Elephantaur
Kratos is no stranger to mythical creatures. He tends to kill them every day. The ruthless protagonist has gouged out the eye of a Cyclops and even ripped the wings off harpies. However, there is no kill quite like tearing a brain from a giant pachyderm’s skull.
After being ambushed by, and defeating, the Elephantaur in God of War: Ascension, Kratos sets out to give that monsters’ brain some air. Using the Blades of Chaos, the player must rip open the head of the elephant-like beast to expose its gray matter. You better believe he will never forget that.
Punching a Hole in Hercules’ Face
The inclusion of Hercules as a boss and extended family member to Kratos was a nice touch in God of War 3. He’s voiced by Kevin Sorbo, of Hercules fame, himself. Luckily, this isn’t Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules. I like that version. But this version gets his face punched into a fine pink mist.
As you mash circle down, each punch removes a little more of the demi-god’s face. By the end of the player-controlled massacre, Herculean face meat is easily sliding off the bone, almost like a well-cooked rack of ribs. Did I just ruin ribs for you? Blame Kratos.
Ripping Helios’ Head Off
God of War 3, Kratos actually rips a god’s head off. As the player, of course, you are an active participant in the gruesome scene. After incapacitating Helios’ chariot — causing a Titan to slam a god into a mountain — Kratos decides that the head of his fallen foe will be pretty darn useful in the fights to come.
So, Kratos grabs Helios by the face and the player assists him, mashing buttons as Kratos twists and tugs at Helios’ dome. The faster you mash, the more strength you feed to Kratos, culminating in the decapitation of Helios. You even get to witness the unimaginable pain written all over Helios’ face. Poor Helios. Poor us!