Written by Jose Gonzalez
A god reimagined and reawakened for the current generation of gamers, God Of War takes players on an adventure full of action, tragedy and a quest to lay the past to rest. God Of War places you in the eyes of a redesigned Kratos and his young son Atreus. After a family incident, the two decide they must travel across the lands and realms to finish the job they started and put the past to rest once and for all. Around 15-20 hours (with some side exploration in my personal opinion) and 12-14 running through the main story only, God Of War provides the frame for a stunning masterpiece of an experience that everyone should run out to buy a PS4 for.
The world of the Norse gods is visually stunning to start with. After the initial portion of the game, you’re given the opportunity to view the open-game world and boy does it look like a flawless painting of the Eifel Tower.
The starting world of Midgar (not the Midgar you’re thinking of) has its own feel as every other realm does. Given that it’s the biggest part of the game to explore alongside, Midgar and its’ subdivisions of other locations look stunning but also explore differently. In one part of Midgar, you could be in a mining cave and in another, an open environment fighting waves of bad guys with only your son as you fight to survive or advance the story even.
Other realms have distinct personalities to them. While one may be mountainous, another looks like a frozen land filled with climbable structures. Each realm has its’ noticeable differences which gives the game suitable variance from the previous God Of War games. Presented at 1080p/60FPS on a PS4 Pro, the game runs smoothly thus allowing the environments to stand out noticeably which immerses the player in the game’s world and allowing them to take in every little detail. For those with a 4K TV, the visual fidelity multiplies by at least a hundred if not a thousand.
The voice acting of both Christopher Judge and Sunny Suljic as Kratos and Atreus respectively provide immense talent along with Nolan North and Troy Baker in supporting roles. While Judge sometimes forces his lines, it’s needed to provide Kratos the rough and tough personality needed to deliver the performance to make Kratos the standout protagonist veterans of the series know Kratos to be. Sunny Suljic provides the innocence and naiveté Atreus brings in the beginning but as the story progresses, Suljic’s performance gets a lot better as Atreus hardens and learns from his father.
The gameplay of God Of War has been vastly revamped compared to its’ predecessors.
The first example being the camera. In previous games, the camera panned away from Kratos while here, the view tightens in on both him and Atreus, especially during combat. This is a benefit due to the combat being hectic at times but a good kind of hectic. In tandem with the camera focus, the combat is like other games. For example, if the player performs a perfect block, then they’re able to wobble enemies thus getting in advantageous attacks and with the vast amount of enemies in the game, this provides a lot of different kinds of strategies to try. Another combat element in God Of War is the Spartan Rage. This allows Kratos to enter rage mode where he can relentlessly attack enemies with his bare fists and other upgraded moves that can potentially reduce a horde of enemies to dust or even an intimidating boss fight to child’s play.
While some elements remain the same, the RPG-style of the game being one of them, the major difference is now Kratos wields the Leviathan Axe. The axe is a magical battle axe merged with ice that can be upgraded throughout the game as players progress. The good thing about the axe is that it’s throwable and when paired with upgrades, it deals out heavy damage and throwing it is a smart tactic when dealing with hordes of enemies. Atreus’s bow & arrow throughout the game provides different uses like distracting enemies or locking them in place to provide Kratos opportunities to pummel and attack them as Atreus can equip different arrows. One specific kind of arrow also helps the two traverse parts of the Norse universe.
Along with Kratos’ armor, Atreus’s armor can be upgraded as well. Atreus isn’t only an NPC. His armor gives the player different benefits. For example, one set of armor can expose an enemy’s weak spot while another can provide a small chance that Atreus finds health when the player is on the verge of death. Kratos’ armor has different benefits to upgrading.
Using different kinds of armor sets can either boost or negate stats like strength, defense or cooldown rates and sometimes, you’ll want to stick to a certain set as upgrading it may be better than equipping a better-leveled one as upgrades can either help you level up or de-level and based on the stats, they either provide large or small advantages and disadvantages.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows though. It’s still good, but not immaculate.
The leveling system isn’t compared to other games where you level up traditionally and choose an ability. In God Of War, you’re mainly acquiring XP by completing quests, but you also gain XP in battle and can upgrade your abilities almost anytime. The minor downside though comes when you must pick and choose sometimes what ability you want now and which one to wait on. Every ability has an XP requirement which requires some strategy in saving XP to possibly acquire a few skills at once or take your time and acquire a skill at a time. It’s really up to you, the player, as to what you decide to do, but it’s an extremely minor nitpick as it took some time to adjust to the leveling system but became an expert of it by the game’s end.
One other major change to the game is the addition of runes. Runes can be attached to weapons and armor for both Kratos and Atreus and provide different perks. For example, one rune can provide a defensive buff for a few seconds while another gives Kratos the opportunity to slow down time with a perfect dodge and get in collective attacks while time is slowed.
God Of War is a clean syringe in a pile of dirty and used ones we’ve seen so far this year and has potential already to be considered the outright game of the year. The game delivers in its’ presentation, tone and pacing while upping the ante in the combat and RPG elements. The only minor nitpick slowly erases from the game’s memory as you grind your way through an unbelievable story that’s bound to have you and your friends talking about it throughout the year and potentially forever.
FINAL SCORE: 9.75