When Polygon's Chris Plante sat down with God of War's director Cory Barlog and chatted about the game, Barlog explained that Atreus began as an interesting concept and soon grew enormously complicated to carry out.
"We started investigating the technical feasibility and the production realities of [Atreus], and that is when people start putting time, personnel, and money to the concept," Barlog told Polygon. "And all of a sudden, reaching the moon has actual distances next to it, right? [...] And then when the real distances get down on paper, you realize, wow, that’s a huge trip."
Barlog's fellow developers feared Atreus would cost too much and require too much manpower, and even Barlog himself wondered if Kratos' son would be "the straw that breaks the franchise's back." But sacrificing Atreus would leave Kratos all alone, which Barlog quickly concluded wasn't fun.
"We’re gonna do this and it’ll be Kratos by himself and it’s, like, you know, the most expensive art house game ever made," Barlog told Polygon. "There’ll be almost no dialogue. There’ll be like 10 lines of dialogue in the whole game."
After Barlog realized Atreus played a fundamental role in Kratos' story, he realized the God of War team would simply have to work through development one step at a time, learning from their mistakes, recovering, and working diligently to create the best product they could.
"We’re gonna just have to jump off the cliff together and take it on faith that we’re gonna solve this," Barlog said. "Because I don’t think we’re gonna solve it on paper. We’re not gonna work out a plan now while trying to do something that nobody’s done before."
God of War is available now for PlayStation 4. Read through Polygon's interview with Barlog and his commentary on the game's one-shot cinematography here.