As God of War: Ragnarok has rightfully claimed its place as one of 2022’s best games, earning itself a five-star score in the GamesHub review. But it’s always important to take a moment and appreciate the stories that live behind the games we hold in such high esteem.
What began as a suggestion from Jake Snipes, a Gameplay Programmer at Santa Monica Studio who lost his life due to epilepsy in 2020, grew into something so much more, as his partner and fellow Senior Gameplay Programmer, Sam Handrick has outlined in a heartfelt Twitter thread.
After meeting and working together in 2019, the pair quickly fell madly in love, travelling the country and building a life together that shined beyond the studio that brought them together. Wanting to leave a piece of them in-game, Snipes had mentioned leaving a heart somewhere on the map with their initials carved in Norse runes. After Jake’s passing, Sam presented the idea to the Game Director of God of War Ragnarok, Eric Williams, who with the team created the carvings, along with a playable side quest as a way to honour their story.
The side quest in question, entitled ‘Across the Realms’, centres on the Ballad of Jari and Somr, a couple who travelled across Midgard, Svartalfheim, Vanaheim, and Alfheim until they eventually found a place to call home, leaving a recipe book at the Eternal Campfire. The player is then tasked with collecting four key ingredients, which in turn will grant them a ‘meal of comfort’ permanently increasing their stats.
Both Sam and Jake’s initials are now forever etched in Norse within God of War Ragnarok, with the carvings now taking pride of place as Sam’s profile picture on Twitter. I’d highly recommend giving his thread a read in its entirety, in which Sam includes a quote for what he hopes players will take away from this quest:
‘I wanted this story to be one many queer people know: journeying through a world that doesn’t always understand you to find a place that truly feels like home.’