Sunday, June 16, 2024

God of War Has a Tyr Problem

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One of the most prominent subplots running throughout 2018’s God of War was that of Tyr, the Norse God of War whose impact is felt constantly despite his absence. Kratos and Atreus use his temple to travel throughout the realms. They discover how his actions helped the race of giants. His past traveling to different pantheons is introduced as a possible threat if found out by Odin, and besides Kratos he is the only character we know of that can travel to different mythological realms.

When one of the trailers for God of War: Ragnarok showed that Tyr would physically appear in the game and play some role, well, of course it made sense. He was too big of a figure in the first game to NOT show up in the sequel meant to end the story.

I wish I could say I am a fan of the role he played. Let’s go ahead and get the big spoiler out of the way. I suggest you stop reading if you have not played near to the end of Ragnarok.

Kratos, Tyr, and Atreus from God of War: Ragnarok

The big twist of the game is that the Tyr rescued from Svartalfheim is actually Odin in disguise. He knew Atreus was looking for the lost god, and so he uses the opportunity as a way to spy on Kratos and company throughout the game, as well as influence Atreus away from his father. This is a great twist, displaying Odin’s cunning and foresight in a way that backs up the reputation other characters build up for him.

The problem is that this means we never, ever see the real Tyr within the main story, and he plays even less of a role in Ragnarok than he did in God of War. The real Tyr can be found in the post-game, having been held captive in an Asgardian prison, but it is too little, too late.

This is a major problem considering how important Tyr was built up to be in that first game.

When the game ended and Tyr turned out to be totally unimportant to the story that I just watched, I was unquestionably disappointed. As much as I love Ragnarok, it is a massive mistake. So much of the game focuses on things Tyr was centrally related to. Atreus seeks giants, and Tyr helped the giants hide from Odin. The actual Ragnarok event is what everyone seeks to make happen or prevent, and Tyr is an important part of Ragnarok. The opening of the game is literally about the search for Tyr.

Ultimately none of it had anything to do with him.

When Odin’s rift in Asgard was introduced, and the whole subplot with the mask began to play out, it seemed like the big opportunity to introduce Tyr’s ability to travel out of the Norse pantheon. I fully expected this rift to have something to do with other mythological realms. God of War 2018 mentions how Tyr hid his travels from Odin because he believed Odin would use this ability to invade other realms.

When the whole mask subplot turned out to be a big nothingburger with no explanation or proper resolution, it inspired most of the disappointment fueling what I am currently writing. It was the last and most disappointing chance for something to happen with Tyr.

Then you consider the actual Ragnarok myth, and the characters in this game that are connected to Tyr in the myths, which is also a disappointment. He is central to the raising and successful binding of Fenrir, and loses a hand in the process. During Ragnarok, he is eaten by Garm. Both Fenrir and Garm play significant roles in this new God of War, yet Tyr is not even remotely involved.

Even his underwhelming post-game appearance could have made up for his lack of role in the story if it did something to justify his absence and introduce something for the future of the series. Tyr could have met Atreus and gave him some information on where the missing giants went. He could have told Kratos, who could then tell Atreus. He could have done something, anything, that would have been meaningful. Instead he seems to only show up as this “oh yeah we never addressed this” last-moment panic move.

I know that Ragnarok is already stuffed to the gills with content, as Santa Monica seemingly avoided a new God of War trilogy by stuffing the final two games into one giant one. Adding fully fleshed out Tyr content to everything that already exists would have made a big game into a giant one. But really, I would easily sacrifice numerous hours of Ragnarok to make room for Tyr. I’d cut entire sections and quests. He was just too important to leave out entirely.

Does this ruin God of War: Ragnarok? Of course not. It is a bigger, better sequel in almost every single way. I absolutely love the game and will have no complaints over the many Game of the Year awards this thing might win.

That does not make Tyr’s lack of involvement any less of a misstep. Leaving him out is like if they left out the giants of Jotunheim. Or imagine if, after all the stories about Thor in the first game, he did not show up in the sequel. Santa Monica knew that, which is why they had the whole fake Tyr plot. They knew he had to appear in some way.

The problem is that so much was set up and just tossed aside, which is a big reason why the one place Ragnarok does not improve upon its predecessor is in its story.

Images Courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment

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