You can uncover several significant hints that point toward the game’s main shock if you pay close attention.
Sony Santa Monica knew going into God of War Ragnarok that no amount of writing magic they could conjure would ever be able to match the sheer impact and shock value of the Blades of Chaos moment in the 2018 game. In fact, the fact that someone can refer to that scene simply as “the Blades of Chaos moment” and most people will understand what that refers to should tell you everything you need to know about how deeply it’s ingrained in people’s minds.
WARNING: There are significant God of War Ragnarok spoilers here.
However, God of War Ragnarok took on the task of attempting to outdo its predecessor in as many ways as it could, and there’s one specific twist in the plot that’s obviously designed to be that major moment to accomplish that goal. Early in the game, Kratos and Atreus free Tyr, the previous Norse God of War, from a protracted sentence of incarceration. Tyr was taken by Odin due of his links to the Giants, and he had been imprisoned for so long that most people thought they had lost hope for him when Kratos and Atreus discovered his location and freed him.
From that point on, Tyr is shown as a crucial friend of Kratos and Atreus’ and a significant member of the ever-expanding coalition of troops they join during their quest. This is true up until very nearly the conclusion of the game. However, it is revealed just before Ragnarok that Tyr was truly Odin all along and was only a mask for Tyr. He infiltrated them from the start, and during the entire process, he has been lying to them and manipulating them. He culminates this deceit with Brok’s death, and then he departs back to Asgard.
It’s a startling moment since you didn’t see it coming in the least, yet while being stunning, the surprise doesn’t make you feel deceived. God of War Ragnarok’s huge revelation is foreshadowed in smart and subtly ways when you examine the game’s plot in more detail and go further into its seemingly unimportant minutiae.
In fact, the game’s director, Eric Williams, has specifically criticised a few of these. After the game’s release, Williams discussed one fascinating feature that is very, very simple to overlook, especially on your first playtime, on an IGN spoilercast. One of the first things Kratos and Atreus see when they arrive at Svartalfheim in quest of Tyr is a dwarf across the river in the distance. He peers at them, spits at them, and swiftly disappears from view. Williams asserts that the Dwarf is actually Odin, who once more assumes a different identity to spy on his adversaries without having them know he is there.
Interesting enough, Williams also mentioned that when you reach the Aesir prison in Niflheim, where the real Tyr is being held captive, you can locate the dead of everyone that Odin can pass for, and that Dwarf’s character model is there, too, among the other corpses, within the jail’s cells.
You can find raven feathers on the floor in one corner of the chamber where Kratos and Atreus initially discover Tyr, if you search every nook and cranny carefully. This is another clue pointing to Tyr’s true identity. The fact that Odin just teleported inside the jail with the help of his ravens is obviously a clue. In retrospect, it’s also sort of obvious that Odin is holding Tyr hostage there because of the abandoned mine and the small number of Einherjar that are guarding it. He chooses to settle in a broom closet when they initially go to Sindri’s house following the phoney Tyr’s rescue, which is also the case. Tyr doesn’t actually need so much space to be comfortable, especially after having spent so much time in a jail, so is this simply the type of person Tyr is trying to convey? Maybe. On the first playing, the player’s thought process is undoubtedly that. Then then, perhaps he realised that the broom closet would be the ideal location to covertly employ his ravens to teleport in and out of.
In addition, there are a number of other, more subtly placed cues that repeatedly allude to Tyr’s true identity. Conveniently, Tyr has entirely renounced violence and promised to never again take up a weapon. As a result, when hostile troops attack Sindri’s house, Tyr doesn’t even attempt to assist his alleged allies by picking up anything other than a shield. Atreus also appears to be rather horrified to find that Odin had been misled into believing a false prophesy and that the actual one talks of his death and the devastation of Asgard earlier in the game, when he opens up Groa’s shrine when Tyr is travelling with them. On the surface, that appears to be a perfectly reasonable response, but when you take a step back and realise that that was truly Odin discovering how he had been duped, you can’t help but view things differently.
Tyr’s discussions with Freya and how he occasionally calls her Frigg are another intriguing topic worth focusing on. Of course, Odin used to call her that, so it makes sense that she doesn’t particularly like the term. Even in his role as Tyr, Odin can’t help but engage in subtle digs, using the term Frigg to target Freya. You may also pay close attention to the game’s subtitles if you want even more subtly worded indications about the twist. If you have speaker names enabled for your subtitles, you will see Tyr’s name printed as Tr with an emphasis above the y since that is how it is actually spelled when you locate the real Tyr in the post-game. However, there is no accent above the y in the subtitles whenever the false Tyr speaks. Is it absurd that Sony Santa Monica picked such a remote area of the game to bury hints in? Of course it is, but in the greatest manner.
Actually, God of War Ragnarok’s second playing demonstrates exactly how skillfully the game conceals its twist, how skillfully it continues teasing it and foreshadowing it, and how skillfully it finally pulls it off in such a manner that you feel astonished but not cheated. When it initially occurs, it’s a clever twist, but as you consider it further, the more admiration you have for it rises. No, it doesn’t even come close to the Blades of Chaos moment, but expecting that in every new instalment might be a bit unrealistic, to put it mildly.