God of War has grown into more than just a video game franchise. It's reached the point where it has entered the cultural lexicon, with even non-gamers having heard of it to some degree.
Few games have shown the ability to draw in audiences like God of War can, blowing us away with Kratos's adventures across different realms, meeting foes and friends alike, caught up in epic twists on the myths and legends of different cultures.
But why does God of War have such an impact? There's the exquisite writing, the fantastic gameplay, but perhaps most of all the gripping performances of every actor and actress involved.
Here are my picks for the best voice acting performances in the God of War series as I celebrate what makes this franchise so outstanding.
7. Atreus (Sunny Suljic)
The son of the mighty God of War himself, Atreus is ultimately just a boy who has to grow up in the presence of a powerful father and the absence of his mother following her death.
However, as the story of God of War continues into God of War Ragnarok, we learn that Atreus is Loki, the Norse God of Mischief.
Through the games, Atreus comes on as a warrior, and the performance is tracked by the brilliant portrayal given to him by Sunny Suljic. Suljic excels in the role and gives a fully rounded character to the games, all rooted in his wickedly sharp acting skills.
6. Zeus (Cory Burton)
Zeus is the mighty King of Olympus, the god who spawns the other gods. Throughout both God of War II and God of War III, he acts as one of Kratos's biggest villains.
In those games, Cory Burton voices the character of Zeus, giving the fabled god a voice that matches the stature and poise of the mythological King of Olympus, rendering him with the respect he deserves.
Zeus's death at the hands of Kratos marks the end of the god's rule over Olympus, with Kratos finally killing the person who caused him so much pain in life. Watching that scene unfold is voice acting at its best.
5. Mimir (Alastair Duncan)
Mimir, the severed head who travels with Kratos, is one of the most entertaining characters in the rebooted God of War, who always brings something new to the journey.
Mimir originally asked Kratos to cut off his head and have it reanimated so that he could continue being the smartest person alive. Now, his fate is attached to Kratos's belt whenever they travel together.
Alastair Duncan voices Mimir throughout the franchise, and he's one of the best parts, with the character now a fan favorite.
4. Odin (Richard Schiff)
Richard Schiff's performance as Odin in God of War Ragnarok is absolutely delightful. He imbues the character with all the hallmarks of a great villain, especially in how he draws us in with a veil of civility.
Throughout God of War Ragnarok, Odin's power is subtle, which is all the more tense since we know he's a Norse god.
At the end of the game, Odin's full power is unleashed upon Kratos, and it's a sight to witness—especially when Odin goes as far as killing his own son in an act of pure, cold, and brutal rage.
He comes across with such depth that it's hard not to be absorbed by Schiff's performance, which made God of War Ragnarok so thrilling.
3. Freya (Danielle Bisutti)
Freya is the woman cured by Odin and the person who most helps Kratos and Atreus in the original reboot game. She has a story that feels like no one else's, especially once we reach the end of God of War Ragnarok.
As she lives a reclusive life in the woods, she's found by Kratos and serves as an ally to him and his son; however, after he kills her son to save her life, she turns on him and tries to destroy him.
Danielle Bisutti gives Freya her nuanced voice in the games, and her performance matches the tone and evolution of the series perfectly: first as a friend, then as a powerful enemy.
2. Thor (Ryan Hurst)
Ryan Hurst has always been an actor who demonstrated great versatility. When he agreed to voice Thor in God of War Ragnarok, the Sons of Anarchy actor had to find a way to avoid comparisons drawn with Chris Hemsworth's Marvel hero.
Hurst's performance as Thor goes in a vastly different direction from Hemsworth's own Thor, as Hurst's version drips with menace and drunken power that sees almost everybody tremble before him.
Throughout the game, Hurst is a presence that can't be ignored. When Kratos eventually faces off against the god, the battle ends up being truly worthy of the titular character's might.
1. Kratos (Christopher Judge)
How could the number one spot go to anybody else? Kratos is the central figure in the God of War series, after all.
Ever since the franchise was brought back and rebooted for a whole new generation—despite backlash from fans for the character's recasting—Kratos has only gotten better.
Yes, Terrence C. Carson was the first voice of Kratos in the original trilogy, and yes, he was perfect for it. He deserves all the praise he got.
But when it came time for the series to be rebooted, it only made sense to give the character of Kratos more life beyond his initial concept. A change was warranted, so in stepped Christopher Judge.
Judge gave Kratos renewed energy and the physical performance the character always deserved, on a next-generation console that demanded everything be more cinematic. And it's thanks to his performances that Kratos grew into the icon of gaming culture he is today.