Both God of War and Immortals Fenyx Rising take advantage of one of the central aspects of narrative design: the storyteller. God of War‘s Mimir and Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s Prometheus take on the role of the bard as they accompany the player throughout the game, either literally or in the background, and provide narration and explanation of many different things.
Video game narrative design teams have a variety of options available to them when they write a story arc, because of the different forms that video games can take. In a book or a movie, there is a limit to the ways in which writers can tell a story. Books rely more on description, dialogue, and literary devices, while movies forego extensive narration and description for narrative directed visuals. Videogames have cutscenes that can tell stories, but they also have environmental storytelling, character relationships, player choice, and many other aspects that can lend themselves well to the narrative. God of War and Immortals Fenyx Rising both use unique storytellers in their narrative design that, though they don’t play direct roles in the central arc, still make an impact on the characters and player alike.
Mythological Background in God of War and Immortals Fenyx Rising
God of War‘s Mimir is described in 13th century writings as a man of great knowledge and wisdom. In the myth, the war between the Aesir Gods and the Vanir Gods results in Mimir’s beheading; the war that is referenced on countless occasions in God of War. The Aesir and Vanir eventually join together to create the unified Pantheon of Deities in Norse Mythology, which is where the Norse Myth and God of War seem to diverge, as the Vanir Gods, especially Freya, seem to be ousted from their place of power and prestige. In the Myth, Odin carries Mimir’s decapitated head around with him and seeks out his counsel for different problems and obstacles, which is exactly what Kratos does in God of War.
Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s Prometheus is described in ancient works as a Titan God of Fire, best known for stealing fire from the Gods and giving it to humans, allowing them to develop knowledge, technology, and civilization itself. In punishment for his transgression, Prometheus is bound to a rock by Zeus, king of the Gods, and is made to endure an eternity of torture in the form of Zeus’s eagle eating his liver again and again until the end of time. Immortals Fenyx Rising gives Zeus and Prometheus a much less dark and more humorous tone, though, cleverly bypassing these ideas of torture and spite. As Immortals Fenyx Rising is reportedly getting a sequel that moves away from the Greek Pantheon, it will be interesting to see where Ubisoft takes the character of Prometheus next.
God of War’s Mimir as a Storyteller
God of War depicts Mimir as a being with an extraordinary amount of knowledge and wisdom, though he can’t always remember it. Mimir’s humor breaks the intensity in God of War just enough to give players a break from the emotional roller coaster that is the rest of the game. When Kratos and Atreus are on their boat, traversing through Midgard, around the Lake of the Nine, or anywhere else for that matter, Mimir will tell stories to Atreus that strike parallels to the characters’ lives. For example, on more than one occasion, Mimir tells stories about children killing their parents and how there can be no greater transgression, to which Kratos has nothing to say, because he is hiding the fact that he killed his own father, Zeus, from Atreus.
During battle, Mimir helps Kratos by warning him of enemies behind him, as he hangs from Kratos’ belt. Further, when traversing the world, Mimir will sometimes offer information and history that aids Kratos and Atreus in their puzzle solving. As a storyteller, Mimir shines as a provider of context and layers the narrative in God of War with legends and tales from Norse Mythology. He replaces more traditional ways of providing this background information such as making players read it in various scrolls or books that are found throughout a game. God of War still has these pieces of lore, but not so much that the player is forced to read constantly. Players love the character greatly, sometimes enough to get God of War‘s Mimir tattooed on their skin.
Immortals Fenyx Rising’s Prometheus as a Storyteller
Prometheus from Immortals Fenyx Rising plays the role of a storyteller in a very different way. While Mimir travels with Kratos and Atreus through the realms and is an active partner with them throughout their journey, Prometheus (along with Zeus) acts as behind-the-scenes narration while Fenyx is going on her adventure. Zeus asks Prometheus for help in defeating Typhon, a giant, evil monster that has escaped imprisonment. Prometheus makes a wager with Zeus that if a mere mortal can defeat Typhon, then Zeus has to set Prometheus free from his eternity of torture. Though Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s Zeus has seen some post-launch DLC action, Prometheus, unfortunately, has been largely ignored.
As Fenyx traverses the world, Prometheus will occasionally mention something about the area that adds some contextual information for the player. One of the best purposes that Prometheus serves is to provide all of the narration and background information about many of Immortals Fenyx Rising‘s side quests, of which there are many. Prometheus will explain things about characters like Hera or Daidalos. Prometheus helps illuminate the narrative while the player simultaneously experiences it for themselves.
Some games like Kirby and the Forgotten Land emphasize environmental storytelling, while others focus more on narration, cutscenes, and dialogue. Mimir and Prometheus in God of War and Immortals Fenyx Rising respectively add the element of the participating storyteller to the mix. Though they do it in different ways, both of these storytellers give the narrative design in their games fresh, new ways of adding contextual information and color to the story, allowing players to experience it in a completely different way.
God of War is available on PC, PS4, and PS5.
Immortals Fenyx Rising is available on PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.