Title: God of War
Available On: PlayStation 4
Developer: Santa Monica Studios
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Official Site: God of War
Release Date: April 20, 2018
Where to Buy: Local Retailers, PlayStation Store ($59.99)
The God of War series is one that I have loved from the very beginning. So, needless to say, I was counting down the days until the newest part of the franchise was set to release. And I was far from disappointed. Every element in God of War seamlessly flows together to create a unified, powerful experience that will have you glued to your PlayStation 4. From the music to the gameplay, the environment to the story, and the well-written cast of characters, you’ll find nothing to complain about in this brilliant masterpiece.
After destroying the whole of Olympus, Kratos finds himself in the realm of Odin and Thor. The death of his wife compels Kratos and his son, Atreus, to spread her ashes at the tallest peak in all the nine realms. However, things are not as simple as they appear. As Kratos and Atreus develop a deeper bond, the secrets of his past and his rage continue to haunt the Grecian god.
This is one of the most powerful and well-written stories to ever grace the video game industry. Interactions between Kratos and Atreus clearly illustrate the evolution of their relationship as the game progresses. While the overall narrative beautiful, the small bits of dialogue between cutscenes is where the writing truly shines. Small bouts of humor and its small cast of well-developed characters escalate the game’s narrative to something quite remarkable. My advice to you, if you are as crazy about the writing as I am, would be to spend as much time in the boat as possible.
While the story is excellent, when talking about God of War there is one very important: How’s the combat? While it still has the elements of the hack-and-slash gameplay favored in the earlier parts of the series, this combat does require a bit of strategy. One of the best things about the combat is that it allows you to adapt to your own unique style through an upgrade system. The ax can be used in hand or as a projectile or you can focus more on hand-to-hand and shield combat if that’s your cup of tea. Atreus adds an interesting addition to the combat as well, unleashing arrows upon your command.
Atreus was a source of some anxiety for fans of the series when the trailers started to release, but he truly is a great addition to the game. Aside from his dialogue and his effect on Kratos, he is an excellent companion reminiscent to Ellie from The Last of Us or Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite. The enemies are tough, and Atreus is definitely an asset with his arrows and stun abilities. The combat is, much like the rest of the game, seamless as you switch between directing Kratos and Atreus.
Graphically, God of War pushes the boundaries of what the PlayStation 4 Pro can do with it’s large, dazzling environments. From the World’s Serpent to the Witch’s Home, it is a dazzling show of artistic direction that keeps you exploring. Exploration will lead to side quests and extra goodies, that are really worth your time. Whether it is for an extra bit of lore or an awesome piece of armor, the side quests are worth the effort. There isn’t a massive amount of them, and that’s one of the best things about the addition to God of War. The narrative is still the main focus, but it allows for a bit of exploration otherwise unseen in the franchise.
Bear McCreary’s (Outlander, Black Sails) soundtrack is the bow tying the whole package together. It’s rousing and inspirational and sets the tone perfectly. (Full disclosure: I’m listening to it as I’m writing this.) It’s a beautiful blend of heart-thumping tracks from larger than life boss battles to softer, more heartfelt tracks that really move the story along.
All in all, Cory Barlog and the team at Santa Monica Studios really did the franchise justice with God of War. It’s beautifully done; everything is well-written and wonderfully crafted with care. This is an experience that is nothing short of astounding and another fantastic addition to the PlayStation exclusive family. And I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Kratos and Atreus!
Verdict: God of War is a brilliant masterpiece with a powerful story. The evolution of Kratos’ character combined with new gameplay elements, like side quests, weapon upgrades, and Atreus, come together seamlessly. Don’t let these changes fool you, it still feels like a God of War title with its quick combat and epic boss battles. Whether you’ve followed Kratos since the beginning or this is your first time with the series, this is something you will not want to miss!
- Beautiful, well-written narrative
- Fun, strategic combat
- Dazzling cinematics and score
- Plenty to see and do