In God of War, traveling between the many realms of Norse mythology is an essential part of the game. Two realms in the game are special, though: Muspelheim and Niflheim. Both are optional locations with some of the toughest challenges and best equipment in God of War, but they require some extra work to unlock.
To get to Muspelheim and Niflheim, Kratos’ son, Atreus, first must be able to read their languages. For that to happen, you have to find and complete two language ciphers, one for each realm. The ciphers are split into four pieces and hidden in special purple treasure chests throughout Midgard. Here’s where to find all the pieces of both ciphers so you can take your adventuring to the fiery and misty realms of Muspelheim and Niflheim.
Cipher Piece No. 1: Forgotten Caverns
When you first reach the Lake of Nine, your search for the ciphers will begin. Land at the Forgotten Caverns on the west side of the island, and head past the rune-covered yellow Nornir chest. Look for a green brazier (part of the “Unfinished Business” Favor) and nearby you should find chain you can climb up. At the top, you’ll find the first cipher chest, marked by a strange mask lock and purple coloring.
Cipher Piece No. 2: Cliffs of the Raven
The second piece is at the Cliffs of the Raven, on the eastern side of the lake. Land at the dock and follow the path up to the giant body of the dead troll there. Go around the troll and you should find a spot where you can boost Atreus up to a ledge above to have him kick down a chain for you. Climb up to find the purple chest.
Cipher Piece No. 3: Tyr’s Temple Bridge and Vanaheim Tower
The third piece of the Muspelheim cipher is on the path toward the Mountain when you leave the Lake of Nine. Take the big bridge from the Tyr’s Temple at the center of the lake to the Vanaheim Tower at its end. Inside, you’ll pass various poison-spewing torches before dropping down into a cave-like area just outside the tower. Look to the left for the third cipher chest.
Cipher No. 4: Witch’s Cave
You can’t get the last piece of the Muspelheim cipher until you’ve met Mimir. Once that happens, the story will bring you back to the Witch’s Cave, which you’ll enter from the lowered water level of the Lake of Nine. When you dock in the cave, take the elevator up to main level. Use a lightning arrow to clear the sap barrier and head to the west wall, instead of heading up the path to the house. You’ll find the chest inside a small stone structure with green energy glowing on it.
With the cipher complete, you can now venture to the fiery realm of Muspelheim and compete in its tough combat challenges. It’s a good idea to check out Muspelheim, at least a little, soon after you discover it. Its tough battles will earn you crafting materials to make some extremely powerful Epic gear, but that gear is especially useful in the middle of God of War. Wait too long, and the Muspelheim gear will be rendered obsolete by even more powerful stuff you’ll discover later.
Cipher No. 1: Ruins of the Ancient
After the Lake of Nine has been lowered a second time, you’ll be able to reach a bunch of new locations around its coast. Row up to the north end of the lake to find the Ruins of the Ancient. Land at the beach and head inland to find a Frost Ancient patrolling the area. Just past it is the first cipher chest.
Cipher No. 2: Lookout Tower beach
Find the beach east of the Vanaheim Tower and land there after the water has been lowered the second time. You’ll see spikes on the beach blocking you from checking out the area to the right of where you landed. Look up and to the left for a big wooden gear you can spin with your axe. Hit it once to clear the spikes to your right, allowing you to cross the barrier. You should then find the second cipher chest, but it’ll be surrounded by spikes. Hit the spinner a second time — make sure you’re not standing where the spikes come out of the ground — and the spikes around the cipher chest will drop, allowing you to open it.
Cipher No. 3: The Mason’s Channel
Head to the eastern side of the channel and look for a beach near the tower. You’ll pass a chest covered in blue brambles, then find a wall you can climb upward. Continue on, past the Realm Tear, and look down at the path below. You should see a World Tree sap crystal you can blow up with one of Atreus’ lightning arrows to clear a barrier. Beyond it, you’ll find the third cipher chest.
Stop! Beyond this point, this guide contains unavoidable story spoilers! Don’t read on until you’ve been to Helheim!
Cipher No. 4: The Mountain summit
Your final piece of the Niflheim cipher won’t be available until after you’ve ventured to Helheim, and then made a return trip to the Mountain. When you reach the big room that formerly held the mining claw that you used to ascend the first time, you’ll clear some brambles and take an elevator instead. When it reaches the top, the path will take you past one of Sindri’s shops and back outside, where the chest is waiting near a Realm Tear.
With the last piece of the Niflheim cipher, you’ll be able to access that Realm. It contains the Ivaldi’s Workshop challenge, some of the toughest content in God of War, and along with it, some of the best gear you can find in the game.
Now that you have both languages completed, Atreus can read the names on the giant brazier torches on each of the Realm Towers in the Lake of Nine. Reading the names lights the braziers, and if you light them all, you’ll complete one of your Labors to earn experience and a special item for fighting the eight optional Valkyries spread throughout the Realms.
Finally, nabbing the fourth Niflheim cipher unlocks the “Trilingual” trophy.