Ever since its reveal in 2016, God of War has been one of the most anticipated games of this year. The continuation of Kratos’ story sees him in Midgard, many years after the events of God of War 3 which saw Greece and the entire Greek Pantheon destroyed. Kratos is now much older and hides his true nature from his son Atreus. Kratos’ reservation soon changes with the death of his wife, and he must embark on a journey with his distant son to scatter his dead wife’s ashes from the highest peak of all the realms.
The whole game is an epic personal journey of Kratos, a character who is elevated from a cold-blooded godkiller from the previous installments to a father trying to raise his son in a harsh world filled with gods and mythical creatures. The story never shifts focus from the heart of the game—Kratos and Atreus’ relationship. It’s is packed with twists and emotional punches, and it does a great job at delivering them. As you follow the main characters, you see them growing and changing, with Kratos becoming a better man and Atreus slowly becoming the God Kratos couldn’t be. The side characters also shine in the game, bringing a lot levity and a breath of fresh air to the story. My personal favorite was Mimir who constantly educates the player on the lore and mythology of the Norse world. The simple plot of the game works in the favor of our main characters’ journey, and the dialogue between Kratos and Atreus elevates the entire story as both these characters learn from each other. In addition, the one-continuous-shot style of game keeps you constantly engaged in the cutscenes, which allows the story to really be delivered without distractions.
Christopher Judge, who plays Kratos, adds so many layers to Kratos’ performance as he comes to terms his own flaws and internal pain. Overall, the story is a beautiful journey for the main characters as they come to terms with each other.
Santa Monica creates its most beautiful looking game yet with God of War, which pushes the PS4 to its absolute limits. From small details to massive boss battles, the God of War engine creates an immersive experience in the vibrant world of Norse mythology. The design of Kratos is breathtaking as you see each and every detail on his face, from the wrinkles to strands of hair in his beard. The animations and camera movements fit together perfectly. An example would be the first two minutes of the game as Kratos chops down a tree; you can see the leather of his bag move realistically along his skin. The camera movement makes each blow unique to the tree as it moves along with Kratos’ axe.
The lighting in this game is one of the best in recent history. Each light source reacts and reflects realistically in environments. Each step in snow, each movement in grass can be felt and seen. Even when you throw your axe it creates movement in the environment. Raw details like these are the things which make the whole experience much more vivid and visceral. However, after playing through the game twice, you can encounter frame drops in the opening hours, but this is a very minor complaint which still doesn’t take away from the rest of the technical marvels the game has to offer.
In previous God of War games, you had an extremely fun arcade-like combat design where you would just press a button and go through hordes of enemies. However, it is a different case here. While Kratos still feels extremely powerful, the combat is much more dynamic as each movement matters. The game always makes you utilize every control button during fights as you throw, punch, block and strike your enemies. You constantly find yourself thinking and improvising during fights as each new enemy proves to be a challenge. Kratos’ iconic Blades of Chaos have been replaced with the Leviathan Axe which works perfectly for this world as the combat feels increasingly more personal. You also can use Atreus for long ranged attacks by using him to stun enemies and going for the killing blow. The combat gets harder and harder, and you will always find yourself upgrading and purchasing new skills to defeat the Valkyries who are undoubtedly the hardest bosses in the game series.
In conclusion, God of War (2018) is the best game in the God of War series. It offers amazing gameplay in a beautifully realised world with a story that always keeps you engaged and makes you feel for both Kratos and Atreus. This is definitely one of the best games in recent history.