Spoilers for God of War and Spider-Man:
What I loved most about the Aunt May scene is how it purposefully plays with the notion of player choice versus character agency. From the way the dilemma is set up to the shot composition, it felt like the game was setting you up for an “L2 save May, R2 save the City” sort of moral choice. But that doesn’t happen, because this Peter does the right thing regardless of what he needs to sacrifice. It’s a scene that I was reminded of this weekend as I got near the end of God of War.
In that game, a similar situation arises that telegraphs a possible moral choice. Does Kratos leave Freya to die at Baldur’s hands, as both of them wish, or does he intervene and kill Baldur, thereby saving Freya’s life? But like in Spider-Man, Kratos makes the choice for us. He saves Freya, much to her chagrin, but it never feels like a choice that makes much sense. Kratos wishes to end the cycle of matricide and patricide that plagues the gods, sure, but he does that by perpetuating more violence? Or perhaps he felt that he owed Freya for saving Atreus, but he pays the favor back by going expressly against her wishes? And there’s little reflection of the dilemma in any case, with Kratos and his companions framing it as a difficult but correct choice. It didn’t feel all that correct to me game!
Anyway, the contrast of the two scenes is emblematic for why I feel Spider-Man had the better narrative. It does the work to make us empathize with who Spidey is and make his decisions feel natural to him. God of War, like its protagonist, feels more fractured and inscrutable in comparison.