‘God of War’ video game review
By Peter Tran, Contributor
It’s not often that a sequel can take a well-established franchise and provide a refreshing new take on its gameplay, characters, and world. However, God of War manages to do just that, delivering an experience that retains the charm of the previous games and yet manages to find its own identity.
This tale follows a father, Kratos, and his son, Atreus, on a journey to scatter his wife’s ashes at the highest peak. From the beginning, this game is markedly different from the intros of the previous games. Gone is the epic opening boss battle, gone is the bombastic orchestral soundtrack, gone is the world of Greek mythology, and gone are the Oscar-worthy sex scenes involving wiggling your joystick (just your joystick, now). As different as this game is from everything that has come before, it is not a reboot but rather a continuation of the series, this time with the beautiful world of Norse mythology as its backdrop.
The new third-person camera is a welcome addition, giving players freedom over how they view the breathtaking realms they explore. This camera never cuts. Cutscenes transition seamlessly to gameplay as story beats weave in and out during any point—whether that’s in a boat, on foot, or during combat. The camera stays with Kratos during the whole journey and sits with him through happy moments as well as painful, which puts you in the same boat he is in.
The game constantly impresses with the way it blends gameplay and story together with the same mechanics. The intro scene already gives the player the control to chop down a tree, teaching basic controls within its first seconds while also pulling the player closer to Kratos during a sombre moment.
The story is gripping, filled with nuance and small poignant moments. Centring around a father-son dynamic, I immediately related to the story because of the communication struggles I have with my father, who is almost as stoic as Kratos himself. While the cast of characters is small, they are all memorable and essential to the plot. This is a treat for lovers of Norse mythology, even if your knowledge ends at Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Combat in this game is hard-hitting and thoughtful. The new Leviathan axe is satisfying and simple: Lobbing light hits, heavy hits, or simply hurling it never get old. Combat requires you to pay attention and react accordingly, rather than button-mashing your way through it.
Exploration breaks up the combat sections with slower moments. Exploring delivers players a childlike wonder of being lost in a fantastical world, wanting to see everything it has to offer. The game encourages backtracking as you learn more skills to unlock areas previously blocked off. Something is always just within your grasp, begging you to take the scenic route.
While the tale is written for new and old fans alike, I cannot express this enough: Avoid spoilers at all costs. There are moments in this game that are best experienced alone (no, it is not a sex scene, you heathen). It’s rare when a game’s story conjures up instances that make you say, “No way!” so don’t rob yourself of these legendary moments. If you have been itching for an unforgettable single-player experience, there’s no need to pray to the gods, for Santa Monica Studio has delivered.