I need to admit a little bias.
Usually I don't play most games because I am not attracted to the hypermasculine "HHHHHHHHHHHHNNNGGGGGRRRRRRRRRR GEARS OF WAR STEROIDS WHEY PROTEEEEEIIIIIN" vibe I get from them.
However, upon seeing a full playthrough of the newest God of War I decided to go back to the original game. I got the original God of War in my teens and...it was frustrating. I never finished it because I regarded it, even back then, as clunky. Tried to get it out again earlier this year. Yep. Still as clunky as ever. So I casually slid to Youtube for a commentary-free playthrough so I could enjoy the story.
Kratos is a character I kind of regarded as a male power fantasy and make no mistake, he fucking is. But like Doom 2016, there's a few layers you can pull back. The narrative presented paints an extremely empty character in a shitty world where gods act as warlords and kill for petty reasons. Kratos aspires to kill the current God of War, Aries, for that reason. But through the game, you slowly come to realize that Kratos is even more monstrous than he initialy comes off as. He is ultimately responsible for the things he did in his past and upon realizing this, and realizing that the gods will not let him forget, he tries to kill himself.
Instead, he becomes the new god of war and lives a life of eternal suffering, bestowing his torment upon the helpless humans for all ages to come.
Now, any game not bearing 1, 2, or 3 I am not familiar with. But I do know that Kratos has had brushings with with the Titans and other gods in between these games. God of War 2 paints Kratos as a rampaging monster just as bad as Aries and the gods of Olympus cast him out and trick him into draining his god power. The rest of the game, Kratos embarsk on yet another quest to defy the gods by changing his fate.
...by starting a war that by God of War 3, pretty much ends the world.
At the end of God of War 3, Kratos finds Pandora, an automoton who is supposed to be an object, but both her creator and Kratos consider her human and for the first time in the main series of games, Kratos begins to take responsibility through sheer regret of his actions. He tries to prevent Pandora from dying, and fails. Once he has killed all the gods on Olympus, he angrily reflects on how there is nothing left, how it will never stop, and to prevent it from happening again, kills himself, releasing hope into the world...whoever would be left to use it.
By the fourth game, Kratos has had a complete 180 of character.
I have no given this franchise enough respect. This is effectively a game where you play as a villain, doing evil things to innocent people and fucking over the world you know to achieve your selfish ends, and how in the end, it isn't worth it. Kratos is someone defined by pain. He lives in constant agony, trying to shut it out.
I'm reminded of a quote from another game that wasn't quite as well received even though its story is on par with God of War.