God of War Ragnarok has many side quests, but none are quite as touching as the tribute Santa Monica Studio crafted for Jake Snipes, a gameplay programmer that passed away back in 2020.
Snipes was a talented programmer and joined Santa Monica Studio back in 2019. In a touching thread from Sam Handrick, a senior gameplay programmer that also worked on God of War Ragnarok and was Snipes partner, the significance behind the tribute is explained.
“There’s something in God of War Ragnarok which is the most special to me,” Handrick wrote on Twitter. “I got to pitch it and the team made it into everything I could have hoped. I had hoped to wait for some time to talk about it but want to share it now, just in case. It’s the Ballad of Jari and Somr.”
The quest, titled ‘Across the Realms’, has players moving throughout the many different locations in God of War Ragnarok to find certain ingredients for a recipe. These ingredients are usually found near a colourful heart with Nordic initials inked in the middle, signifying a love between two individuals. On a surface level, this seems like a small, cutesy bit of environmental storytelling. However, as Handrick explains, the ‘reasoning’ behind this side quest has everything to do with the love between himself and Snipes, as well as the love the studio still holds for Snipes.
“We’d talk about how much we’d love to leave some symbol of us in Ragnarok.” Handrick says. “Some indication within this game that had been the reason we’d first met, our first game made together. He once suggested simply a heart, with our initials in Norse runes, carved into this world we made.”
When Snipes passed away in 2020, Handrick states that when he returned to work on Ragnarok he wanted it to be “everything [Snipes] deserved.” So he reached out to the director behind God of War, Eric Williams and told him of the vision that both Snipes and he had about the impact they dreamed to have on the game.
“I told Eric and the team about Jake’s suggestion of our initials carved into a heart,” Handrick tweets. “And he and the team returned with that and something even more special. A story of two men who find each other in an often cruel world, and who find a place to belong simply with each other.
At the end of the side quest, there is an eternal fire that flickers rainbow flames – a beautiful tribute to Snipes contribution to God of War Ragnarok.
“This fire never stops burning,” Handrick explains. “Through the coldest days, through the nights you don’t want to live through. It will stand in this world we at @SonySantaMonica created for all of time, carrying the story of a man in whom I found something unnamable. Something I still carry now.”