The Mark of Kri is a game I have incredibly fond memories of. And at the time of its release in the summer of 2002, it helped redefine the hack-and-slash genre into something a little cooler, a little grittier. Developed by SCE San Diego Studio and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PS2, The Mark of Kri was widely praised for its innovative combat system, dynamic environments, and engaging storyline. However, what many people may not realize is that The Mark of Kri played a significant role in paving the way for another iconic PlayStation franchise, God of War, which SCE Santa Monica would release over three years later.
What is The Mark of Kri?
At its core, The Mark of Kri was a hack-and-slash game that follows the story of Rau Utu, a skilled warrior who is on a mission to defeat an evil sorcerer and his army of minions. The game is set in a mythical world inspired by Polynesian culture and folklore. Rau lives on the island of Naha, where he spends most of his days hunting and fishing with his pet bird, Kuzo. However, his peaceful life is soon interrupted when he is called upon by the High Priestess of the island to embark on a dangerous mission.
The mission requires Rau to leave his home and travel to various regions, including the snowy mountains of Naggiar and the desert wastelands of the Shivering Fens. Along the way, Rau encounters various enemies, including bandits, mercenaries, and other deadly creatures.
As Rau progresses through the game, he learns about a dark conspiracy that threatens the entire world. The conspiracy involves a group of powerful individuals who seek to gain control of the Mark of Kri and use it for their own purposes.
Throughout the game, Rau uses his combat skills and weapons, including his signature machete and bow, to fight off enemies and complete his mission. He also gains new abilities and upgrades by completing side missions and acquiring new equipment.
The game’s absolutely brutal combat system is based on a unique mechanic called the “Combat Targeting System,” which allows players to quickly switch between enemies and execute a variety of brutal attacks. The game also features a stealth system that enables players to sneak up on enemies and take them down quietly…and OH was it satisfying!
The Mark of Kri vs. God of War
While The Mark of Kri received positive reviews upon release, it wasn’t until the release of God of War in 2005 that people began to see the connection between the two games. God of War, which was also developed by SCE Santa Monica Studio, shared many similarities with The Mark of Kri, including its hack-and-slash gameplay, dynamic environments, and brutal combat system…not to mention the strong similarities between Kratos and Rau Utu.
One of the key innovations that God of War brought to the table was its use of quick-time events (QTEs). QTEs are interactive sequences where players must press a sequence of buttons or perform certain actions in a limited amount of time to successfully complete the sequence. While The Mark of Kri did not have QTEs, it did have a similar mechanic called the “Gory Finisher,” which allowed players to perform finishing moves on enemies that were near death.
One major difference between The Mark of Kri and God of War is that the former is enveloped in Polynesian culture and the latter is painted in Greek mythology (albeit loosely).
Another major difference between the two games was the narrative approach. The Mark of Kri had a relatively simple story that focused on Rau Utu’s quest for revenge, whereas God of War had a much more complex and intricate storyline. However, both games had a strong emphasis on mythology and drew heavily from ancient cultures such as Norse, Greek, and Roman.
Perhaps the most significant contribution that The Mark of Kri made to God of War was its combat system. The Combat Targeting System in The Mark of Kri was a major influence on the similar system used in God of War, which allowed players to switch between enemies quickly and execute a variety of brutal attacks.
The Mark of Kri on PS5
If you want to get your hands on The Mark of Kri for a nostalgia playthrough (or if you’ve never heard of it), it is available on PSN with backward compatibility.
But I’m trying to imagine a world in which Sony would want to revisit this retro gaming gem that just hit the 20-year mark since its release. Is it possible we’ll see a Mark of Kri reboot in the near future? Unfortunately, it doesn’t look likely that we’ll see a Mark of Kri PS5 reimagining anytime soon.
Sony’s San Diego Studio now focuses almost exclusively on MLB: The Show, save for a couple of other nonsports games that flopped miserably (looking at you, Drawn to Death). And, frankly, I’m not even sure The Mark of Kri would be commercially successful, given that it’s so similar to God of War.
While The Mark of Kri is often overshadowed by its more famous successor, it played an essential role in paving the way for the God of War franchise. From its innovative combat system to its dynamic environments and engaging storyline, The Mark of Kri established a foundation that God of War was able to build upon and improve. While both games have their unique strengths and weaknesses, they share a common thread that has resonated with gamers for nearly two decades.