Music Inspired by God of War Ragnorak
With God of War Ragnarök recently released into the gaming stratosphere, today we focus on the music and ideas that Bear McCreary has developed into this new rebooted era of the iconic series.
What is God of War?
God of War is one of Sony Playstation’s prime first-party titles and an award-winning franchise currently spanning over 15 games over four generations of Sony’s Playstation consoles. The early games developed by Santa Monica Studios focus on the main protagonist, “Kratos,” and his battles and struggles with the Greek mythological gods. With its dark emotional story, incredible set pieces, and straight-up visceral combat, the series is well-loved within the gaming community and has sold millions of units.
In 2018 the studio released a soft reboot of the franchise for the PlayStation 4, titled God Of War; this new take of our favorite angry bald aggressive warrior puts him within a new mythological landscape, pitted against Norse mythology. Not only that, but we see Kratos from a slightly different angle; as a father to his young teenage son Atreus
The game follows both characters fighting through many obstacles, demonic enemies, and unique mythological gods, in order to reach the tallest peak in the land to spread Kratos’s lover and Atreus’s mother’s ashes.
Bringing a new era and sound to God of War
You could have everything perfect within a game. Smooth and fun gameplay, a gripping story, breathtaking locations, and memorable characters, but without music to set the tone of a particular scene or moment or bring ambiance to a new area for the player, these points don’t make the game memorable or strike a chord to the audience.
The rebooted series not only wanted to bring Kratos into a new mythological timeline and give the player a new perspective on the character itself but also change the way the music integrates with the story and gameplay. Gone are the pounding drums, huge brass sections, and crashing of symbols of the older titles and bringing in a new sound with the introduction of instrumentation from Northern European folk traditions.
Award-winning Bear McCreary was brought onto the project very early and worked closely with game director Cory Barlog and the team. Initially, the early variations of the songs and central theme were very melancholy, sad, and lyrical, which didn’t fit the representation of Kratos. After it was canned, Bear started working on a new melody that would become the game’s central theme, representing Kratos’s main qualities: Age, Wisdom, Power, and Masculinity.
McCreary did his homework and thoroughly researched Nordic folklore and music. He traveled to Iceland and not only got immersed in the land’s beauty but wanted to record with an Icelandic choir that could read and pronounce the Old Norse dialects correctly.
From 34:02 in the video below, you can watch a small snippet of the soundtrack’s creation.
The central theme is based on three notes looped throughout; these three single notes drive home the dominance and presence that Kratos brings when he enters a scene.
Listening to the full 4:07 of the main track “God Of War” makes you feel like you can accomplish anything with the brute power and fearless nature that Kratos has; the roaring deep Icelandic choir vocals, intense strings, and war-ridden brass elements make it an actual iconic theme that rivals most blockbuster films produced today.
Having complete control over an orchestra of 50 strings, 17 brass instruments, six low woodwinds, Iceland’s 22-singer Schola Cantorum choir, and a 48-singer choir from Prague, he was fully committed to bringing a rich, authentic, and textured orchestral sound into the game.
It’s not all just about the main theme song but the entire soundtrack itself; it makes you feel deep emotions. The music was created to go alongside the incredible cinematic moments and story the game brings, from the ethereal sounds of “Memories of Mother” to the scary and lurking sense of being watched in “Helheim.”
Success and Ragnarök
The 2018 release of the rebooted franchise has sold over 23 million units as of November 2nd, 2022 being one of the biggest titles to be released exclusively for PlayStation, bringing in multiple games of the year awards and other accolades, including many nominations and wins for its original instrumental work and cinematic audio.
Being one of McCreary’s most prestigious pieces of work, it was a no-brainer for Cory and the team at Santa Monica Studios to bring him into the next game of the rebooted franchise, God Of War Ragnarök. Time will only tell how many awards and nominations the next game in the series will bring.
God of War Inspired Music
I don’t know about you, but after countless hours playing a game, I’m more than often inspired to create something akin to the media I’ve just played. If you, too, are like this and find yourself wanting to make a short inspired by the visuals of God of War, then you’ll need some music to go with it.
Now, of course, you can’t just pinch the music used throughout God of War, but you won’t need to, as that’s where we come in. In the playlist below, you’ll find countless tracks similar in style to the music found throughout the Norse-infused God of War games.
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