Game Review: God of War: Ragnarök

Release date: 2022
Version played: PlayStation 5 in 2022

Developed by Santa Monica Studios for PlayStation Studios, God of War: Ragnarök is the 2022 action adventure entry in the God of War series; the fifth mainline entry and ninth overall. Three years after the events of the previous game, Kratos (Christopher Judge) and Atreus/Loki (Sunny Suljic) are training for the prophesised and impending Ragnarok, an inevitable battle to end all things. Along with the decapitated head of Mimir (Alaistair Duncan), and the assistance of the Dwarven brothers, Brok (Robert Craighead) and Sindri (Adam Harrington) the pair must contend with a vengeful Freya (Danielle Bisutti) and the interference of Odin (Richard Schiff) and Thor (Ryan Hurst), as well as numerous other characters from Norse mythology.

+ most of the characters are very well voiced, and I thoroughly enjoyed their interactions. Obviously Kratos and Atreus are almost inseparable in quality, and both are given much more emotional time to grow on their roles in the first game. Brok and Sindri once again are joys, with Sindri in particular being given a few standout moments. Not just because of Marvel’s take on the character, but for his role in the story of Ragnarok, Thor was a big deal and I think Ryan Hurst pulled it off really well in his gruffness and subtle threatening nature; the first interaction between Kratos and Thor is something really intense. I wasn’t on board with Schiff’s Odin at first, but eventually his voice began to match his slimy character
+ the combat has lots of flashy abilities which can all find a use in various situations. I’d be surprised if it was possible to win the game without using each weapon, but I wouldn’t call the game ‘difficult’ either. I thoroughly enjoy the brutal “glory kills”, though much like the last game there are a lot of re-used animations. Players can have their companion do some ranged attacks to draw the enemies’ ire or act as support, but this is primarily a ‘one versus all’ situation
+ I think we can all agree that the 2018 game was a genuine surprise, and it’s not a fair negative to say that this sequel doesn’t quite have that same ‘shock’ factor. That said, there were a lot of fun surprises here — some of which I was able to infer early on — that keep the game fresh, at least the first time they occur
+ the game looks gorgeous. There is no easier way to say this but that every character, every location, and all of the fantastic motion capture animations are a thing of beauty. The game once again occurs in a ‘single shot’, with only a few cuts or scene transitions when the story calls for it, which is a really technically impressive thing to see. Though, it does mean side stepping through holes in the wall, or crouch-walking under a fallen pillar so the game can load in the background

– my biggest negative is that the story is just absolute garbage. It felt like every time I was getting invested in something, the writers would pull the rug out to try and subvert my expectations which rather than keeping me on my toes, only made me not take anything that happened seriously. The event of Ragnarok is not really something that allows for much wiggle room, and the fact that Loki is already not a character in the mythological sense of what Ragnarok is throws a spanner in the works, so I didn’t like that the writers seemingly went out of their way to make it different
– two characters, unnamed due to spoilers both major and minor, were some of the most cringe-inducing, meme-spouting Marvel quipster types that I hate so very much. I think one of them literally said “Ah, a little help here?” at one point, and I wanted to claw my own face off. Another new character was just a big exposition dump, and I don’t recall featuring at all into the story in any meaningful way afterwards. It felt like an extremely lengthy chunk of the game for something so unimportant
– I really struggled with some pacing issues, and the ending in particular felt incredibly rushed and out of nowhere. Lots of times the game says ‘we have time to do other stuff if you want to finish any missions off’, but lots of side activities are locked behind story points or abilities you get later, so it was often not worth going to complete some of an area when you could just go back to it in the post-game to complete it fully anyway

> they keep teasing Egypt. Kratos tearing the wing off of Ra, or battling Anubis in the middle of a sandstorm would have been phenomenal, but I don’t think it fits the story anymore
> at the time of writing, there is no in-game camera mode, which was a late addition to the previous game. So please forgive my all in-game shots above

Should you play this game: I liked this game, but it was definitely not the best God of War game, nor as good as the 2018 entry. This is well worth playing, especially for fans of the 2018 game, but something about it just never clicked in the way that game did.

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