In God of War, Kratos and his son, Atreus, must venture through the harrowing world of Norse mythology to complete a quest that means more to him than razing Olympus. God of War is an epic masterclass in gaming, keeping the fun and mythology of the original three, while grounding this world with meaningful characters, beautiful story moments and refreshing combat.
From the moment you press start, you are thrown into a heart wrenching story of Kratos and the loss of his wife. You soon discover Kratos has a son with this woman and the story quickly comes into focus. In this new iteration of God of War, Kratos is a much more fleshed out character. He is older and tougher than the audience has ever seen, yet he is more relatable than ever before. His relationship with his son, Atreus, is clearly jaded. Yet through this relationship we see a side of Kratos that is sensitive and caring, even if he does not want to show it. Kratos clearly fears getting too close to his child considering what happened to his previous family. The strained relationship between father and son helps keep the drama and story interesting, wondering how this child can possibly capture this man’s heart.
Atreus is a young and rambunctious child who is desperately trying to hold onto his innocence throughout the story. The developers struck a fantastic balance of making Atreus childlike in nature yet not annoying. He questions everything but is smart and strong enough to help his father through the toughest challenges. Atreus quickly becomes a favorite character that you’re glad is along for the ride. He could have quickly become an annoying nuisance than a helpful warrior that he shows himself capable of being.
The gritty and realistic nature of this world helps the combat mechanics shine through in God of War. Gone is the wild hack and slash of the chain blades from the original God of War trilogy. Kratos is older and slower than he used to be and the combat shows this perfectly. In God of War the combat is somewhat slow and methodical, timing your blocks and rolls is just as important as landing the perfect strike. The Leviathan Axe that Kratos wields adds plenty of cool flavor and touch to the combat. You can throw the axe only to have it return to you no matter where it is. The Leviathan Axe also adds plenty of fun ways to solve puzzles and navigate the world around you. The most refreshing part of the combat in God of War is the use of Atreus and his bow. While the developers could have gone the route of Bioshock: Infinite or The Last of Us by making the companion an ammo or health pack, they decided to have Atreus be an integral part of the fighting mechanics. Atreus can stun enemies, help keep them off your backs when your health is low, or even help finish larger enemies. Using two characters at once brings refreshing combat to an RPG genre that desperately needed it.
The RPG elements of God of War are also there, allowing for players to upgrade everything from the Leviathan Axe to Atreus’ bow. You can spend experience points to customize Kratos’ gameplay style to your liking. If you want to be more aggressive, you can choose abilities that allow you to do more damage and enter combat easier. Yet, if you prefer to be more skilled and protect your life, you can put skills into locking down enemies and timing blocks to be more effective. However you like to play, God of War allows you to tailor the game to your liking.
The biggest drawback to God of War is the confusing controller mechanics. Getting use to the combat can be a challenge to those who don’t play Playstation 4 very often. Many of the mechanics are similar button combinations that produce very different results. I often found myself trying to throw the Leviathan Axe only to throw up my shield. This is only a small tidbit however and it’s something that is easy to overcome after the first few hours of gameplay, making the combat fluid and fun.
The newest God of War is absolutely breathtaking in its design and execution. The developers did an astounding job of bringing back God of War while making it new and refreshing. The grittiness shows through in every facet of the game. From the combat mechanics to the grounded yet mystical story, this video game will you keep you on the edge of your seat while blowing you away with its beautiful visuals. I would give God of War a 9.5 out of 10 and would recommend it to anyone who is even slightly interested.