Ever since Kratos came to life in the God of War in the original 2005 Sony creation for PlayStation, it has always managed to maintain exceptionally high standards. Thankfully, that hasn’t changed with this new release. In fact, this might just be the best one yet. Sony Entertainment has really mixed things up from the aged slash-and-hack theme God of War is usually known for. But, why wouldn’t they after a decade and more into it. It was a very good thing they decided to freshen things up.
Don’t worry, combat is just as brutal and as bloody as ever
The series hasn’t lost its sense of scale. They just redirected and distributed it more equally. The same way in the olden days where the scale of single boss fight scenes just left you in utter disbelief, in this new instalment they apply that in the entire game. Imagine that? Crazy no? Everywhere you visit you’ll come across a colossus Titan or Hydra worth the ‘WOW’ factor and having to fight as well as defeat them is even more unbelievable. Most of the damage Kratos will be doing is in the fictional land of Midgard
Anyway, this new instalment is as brutal and as bloody as its predecessors were. Bare hands are still used to tear apart rib cages, or jaws left hanging from a beaten face. Kratos is still his ruthless old self when the need for it arises. Those vicious curb stomps where he smashes skulls will make you hold your breath a bit before you dive back in. Although unrecognisable in many ways, when in it you’ll feel 100% like you’re in God of War. That doesn’t change.
In the details is where all the beauty lies
The general details of the game are not only beautiful, but they’ll also keep you in awe every single moment. The texture of distant grassy hills seem very real, light dancing off of shiny surfaces look so dazzling and the monsters that come to instil terror in you portray a sense of in-depth detailed decay. Even the sky sometimes almost looks photo-realistic. However, while those beautiful landscapes will captivate you, the smaller details on Atreus (Kratos’ son) and those on Kratos himself will blow your mind.
However, all this comes at a cost. Action games feel smoother because they run at 60 frames per second. God of War runs at about 30. With that said, everything generally runs fine. The two main actors have a wonderful supporting act elevating them. Like the pair of friendly dwarves you meet on your journey that seem like a comic relief at first but inevitably turn out to play an integral role in the story of Kratos and Atreus. Their own tales are fascinating as well. The developers have simply outdone themselves once again.
Kratos is a likable character in this one
In this instalment, Kratos now roams Midgard, a Norse Realm. He’s a much beardier, older, very changed man. He’s mourning his not so long dead wife with Atreus by his side whom he’ll now have to raise alone. There are generally a lot of changes on how this new game works, however, even if you’ve known the man well or this is the first you’re meeting Kratos, you’ll still be able to enjoy it. The misogyny and vicious edge of the original PS2 Kratos who was a cruel, spiteful soul filled with rage is long gone. He’s now a grumpy old man who likes to hit things with an axe. Most of the time he’s trying to teach Atreus to “be better”
The Leviathan Axe
This time out, Kratos’ signature weapon is what’s known as the Leviathan Axe. And, it’s simply amazing. Probably one of the most interesting of all his weapons thus far. They start you off with a few simple heavy and light attacks but you can upgrade and acquire new abilities along your journey. It’s never been this fun slicing and chopping hordes of bad guys. The best trick it has is the way you can recall it back after you’ve thrown it. Kind of like the way Marvel’s Thor can recall his hammer after he’s thrown it.
It’s a satisfying feeling when you throw then recall your Axe. In fact, you’ll probably spend a few minutes messing about with that feature once you’ve learned how to do it. You’ll appreciate how long it takes to return the further you throw it and the reverberating, loud thwang noise it produces at every throw. The cherry on the top is how it’s all precisely paired with the control rumbles the control pad makes every time these things happen.
An Entire New World
The initially linear world of God of War opens a bit during the first few hours. It encourages exploring through the game’s many collectibles and rewards for completing optional fights as well as puzzles. Although the map truly never becomes open world such as games like Assassin’s Creed, Marvel’s Spiderman and the like, you’re still awarded plenty of freedom. Instead, it’s more of an interconnection series of various locations. Much more than God of War has ever offered. In some scenarios, progress requires you slightly stray from your main path. Also, ignoring Atreus’ many reminders that there’s new uncovered terrain could cost you valuable collectibles as well as rewards. Both the main and optional areas make smart use of Norse locations and figures. You’ll never regret that you strayed.
If you’re expecting this new God of War to provide you with great action, then you’ll be happy to know that you’ll get this just that and a bit more. However, you’ll also get an extremely thrilling journey as well. Every aspect of the game complements each other so perfectly that Sony has created what simply looks to be a masterpiece. It’s a game in which the Kratos character that was previously one-note has been transformed into a complex warrior, monster and father. Embattled on the field and in his heart on how to raise his son, Kratos has become somewhat likeable. This is one you can’t afford not to try out.