In Defense of the Dead Mom

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Some people on the internet have been raising complaints with the story in God of War, notably around the choice for Faye to have passed away before the game begins. I don't want to pick apart people's interpretations of story elements, because I see where they're coming from. but this particular choice was really effective for me personally for a few reasons.

For starters, let me make the obligatory comparison to The Last of Us, which I've done before. When the intro of the game shows the daughter, Sarah, I couldn't care less. We know what kind of game this is, and its attitude towards concepts like "happiness" and "being alive." Sarah practically has a target painted on her face from the beginning. So, why should I get invested in this character that only exists to make Joel sad and have him do some dumb things?

Faye is handled differently in a way that gets me actually invested in her story. We don't see her brutally murdered like Kratos's previous wife. She's one of the only entities in the series to die from something resembling natural causes. The game is ostensibly about the people left behind mourning her after the fact. I love this choice because her death isn't played for shock value or as a trigger for revenge, but a tragedy. One that ends up bringing everyone closer, through murder I guess.

While we don't see the real Faye in the game, we hear her memory. She was a great warrior and a caring mother. Bits of her poke out in Atreus's stories. The players only have the idealized version of Faye, not the actual one. The ending reveals that she kept as many secrets as Kratos, and he and Atreus don't quite know how to react. They may feel slightly betrayed, but Faye's machinations ultimately succeed in bringing them together. For that, they are grateful.

As seen in the image, Faye's is the invisible hand that guides Kratos and Atreus on their journey, in more ways than one. Her power in the story comes from her absence. Had she made a physical appearance at the beginning, I believe a lot of the impact would evaporate. In the narrative weight of her death, she pulls off one final miracle.