God of War
God of War
It has been a while since we last saw Kratos. After murdering Zeus and most of the Greek pantheon, it seems he nally had the time for a much needed break.
God of War picks up decades later, with the Ghost of Sparta now living in the frigid Norse lands with his family. The game opens with you building a funeral pyre for Kratos’ wife, Faye. It doesn’t take long before the Norse gods take notice, wrapping him up in another mythological saga. Out of all the previous games, God of War undoubtedly has the best plot in the series… and it’s only just beginning!
Our new Kratos isn’t the loner he used to be. Life as family man has mellowed him some. He’s now joined by his son Atreus, whose neivety is a stark contrast to Kratos’ harsh, pragmatic personality, and it serves as a great foil to the elder Spartan.
It plays o brilliantly and leads to genuinely compelling moments as they struggle to know and accept each other. Their dialog is one of the game’s high point, humanizing the duo and letting us see Kratos in a whole new light.
Gameplay has seen a tremendous overhaul too, with Kratos now wielding the Leviathan Axe. Imbued with frost, it can freeze enemies and, like Thor’s Mjölnir, be magically recalled after being thrown. Kratos is still dangerous without his axe though. Unarmed blows ll up a stun meter that, when lled, lets you trigger gory nishing moves.
Di erent ghting styles have their own combos and moves, and you can seamlessly cycle between them with the D-pad.
Kratos goes up against a wide variety of enemies: dark elves, draugr, trolls, dragons, and other monstrosities from Norse mythology. And this raises a major peeve for me. Kratos only has a handful of nishers for each enemy type, so be prepared to see the same animations over and over again.
Luckily, God of War ‘s combat is fast, uid and relentless, relying on timing and evasion more than straight button mashing. Kratos responds with no lag and it’s a breeze to engage and disengage foes.
Landing blows will ll a Spartan Rage meter, and triggering it regenerates your health and makes you stronger. It’s incredibly useful when you need to take out tough enemies or when you’re on the ropes and need a quick breather.
As a companion-type character, Atreus’ AI is intelligent enough to assist in battle. He’ll join the assault if he sees you rushing a foe, stepping in as soon as your own combo ends. He can also grab enemies for you to land some free hits and pull o a finisher. Atreus is completely worry-free as he can be stunned, but not killed.
When you’re not fighting, chances are you’ll be solving the numerous environmental puzzles in the game. Most of them are easy enough, but a handful requires some extra thinking.
There’s an underlying RPGlite mechanic system at work in God of War. Your gear adds to your overall power level, which in turn dictates how tough enemies are. Since they don’t scale to your level, equipping and upgrading better gear is pretty much required for tougher enemies and optional bosses.
God of War also has a handful of side-quests and endgame content too. These range from ghting optional, hidden bosses, to nding translation runes to access hidden realms. There’s a ton of meat to the game and it’ll take you quite a while to see it all. I spent two whole days and nights to reach the end and I still haven’t fought any of the hidden bosses.
God of War has some of the best visuals ever seen on the PS4. In fact, every area you visit has its own visual style, from jungle ruins to frozen caves, and they all look great. I’m still in love with the Lake of the Nine, with its huge open map and progressively changing topography.
On top of that, voice acting is top-notch. Christopher Judge (who you might know as Teal’c from Stargate SG-1) was born for the role. Judge’s deep baritone is perfect for a grizzled Kratos, and his deadpan delivery to some of Atreus’ lines made me chuckle more than once.
Santa Monica Studios and Sony have truly hit this one out of the park, and it’s done what I thought was previously impossible: it has turned me into a fan. One who can’t wait for the inevitable sequel, and there’s no higher praise I can give.
A landmark return of the franchise, with boatloads of content, fun gameplay and a great story.
Atreus is pretty useful in battle. He can also help solve puzzles and best of all, 100% fuss-free.
Not just hack and slash. Father and son dialog and story moments are some of the best parts of the game.