God of War: Ascension's game design manager, David Hewitt, has admitted that the Sony Santa Monica team has "pulled back" from depictions of violence against women.
In an interview with IGN that focuses on violence in games, Hewitt referred to the recent controversy surrounding Crystal Dynamics' reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, in which Lara Croft is subjected to an apparent sexual assault.
"I think where this has been an issue is with violence against women - the team's pulled back from some of that and assessed that a little more carefully," he said. "There are certain things that carry a different kind of resonance that we don't want to get into.
The team's assessed that a little more carefully. There are certain things that carry a different kind of resonance that we don't want to get into
"This isn't about statement-making in that regard. It's about fleshing out [Kratos]."
The God of War: Ascension demo was one of the talking points in the discussion about violence following this year's E3 Expo. However, Hewitt defended the series' extreme violence as relevant to both the premise and the motivation of its protagonist.
Indeed, Hewitt suggested that Sony Santa Monica has a "set of rules" regarding the game's approach to violence. Hewitt claims that this is evident in Kratos' lack of "flourishes" when it comes to killing enemies - "There's nothing about this that he's enjoying."
"I think if the context is a wartime setting or something a little more modern than our game it has a different impact. Your reaction to that might be a bit more ambiguous. But we're far removed from what your day-to-day experience is when we're in this vastly different and weird mythological world.
"The series has wanted to keep upping itself in presentation and making sure we have those moments where people kind of recoil a bit - genuinely uncomfortable moments that are part of the feel of this franchise. We've stuck by those, but the game's not driven by those."