Game Review: God of War (2018)

Release date: 2018
Version played: Playstation 4 in 2018

Simultaneously a reboot (for the gameplay) and a sequel (to the story), 2018’s God of War is the eighth entry in the God of War franchise of video games. Taking place many years after the events of God of War III, Kratos (Christopher Judge, Stargate SG-1) lives in Midgard with his young son, Atreus (Sunny Suljic) who set out on a journey to fulfill Kratos’ late wife’s final wish: to scatter her ashes from the highest peak in all the Nine Realms. The game takes place entirely from a third person view, as Kratos battles varios monsters and deities from Norse Mythology, in he same vein as his role in he Greek setting of previous games. For the first time, Kratos’ weapon, the Leviathan Axe, can be upgraded, new armour pieces can be crafted and upgraded, and new skills can be unlocked to add variety to combat.

+ Kratos and Atreus are simply fantastic characters. Judge’s voice is phenomenal as the tormented, angry-but-loving Kratos the father. Atreus’s constant back-talking, and then Kratos’ challenging him make for an almost too realistic father-son dynamic. Atreus’ cotextual dialogue flows so perfectly, where easy battles are met with a boast, whilst clutch wins are met with proud disbelief. Attacking nothing, or destroying surrounding objects elicits certain responses, all of which consistently remains entirely in character for both
+ the game is full to the brim of incredible cinematic set pieces, and absolutely unbelievably stunning vistas, timed to the stories and soundtracks perfectly without ever taking control from the player. I was hesitant from the early trailers that there would be too much “press one button and a long cutscene happens”, but so much control is required for anything to take place, it never feels like a movie
+ the new combat style is visceral and weighty, where every strike and stab and slash and squish feels important. I do have to say, the combat never felt like Dark Souls to me, which is what I had read often leading up to the game’s release. If anything, it might be closer to the heavier weapon style of Lords of the Fallen, but even that doesn’t quite describe it properly. The use of real combos, unlocked through leveling up, is something neither of those games had, and help this game stand out away from the Dark Souls formula
+ the level design, however, is very Dark Souls inspired, and I got the same feeling when finding a shortcut back to a previously explored area as I did there (this was again helped by Atreus commenting “oh, we’re back here, nice”). The game is mostly linear, aside from one or two major hubs, but in many ways that reminded me of a Metroidvania/Zelda game, with new abilities allowing access to previously hidden or inaccessible areas

– once you deduce some things on your own, the game still takes a few hours to reveal them, by which point you will have run over all the possibilities in your head. This might be only for those of us with a love of Norse mythology, however
– there was not quite as many God slayings as the previous games, but it is clear they are setting those up for the sequel(s). Still, it might have been nice to take on some bigger names from the pantheon

> I couldn’t help but think that The Stranger looked a lot like professional wrestler Aleister Black (fka Tommy End) from WWE’s NXT

godofwar_6-stranger

Should you play this game: While the obvious comparison is to The Last of Us, to me this was more a mixture of Resident Evil 4 and the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot. Two perfectly written characters in Kratos and Atreus are the centerpoint for a brutal combat system, a heart-wrenching story and some genuinely intriguing revelations, which everyone should experience themselves.

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