SIE Santa Monica Studio (studio)
20 April 2018 (released)
25 April 2018
It’s been 8 years since the last, main instalment (Accession doesn’t count) for the God of War series where Kratos died and we were left in the dark for the series future. After a lengthy development it’s finally here, God of War. But dare I ask if this reboot, sequel mashup can live up to the hype?
Well if you’ve read other reviews then you know it does, but I have a few things I like to clarify, cementing whether or not this is a masterpiece.
God of War tells the tale of gaming's most angry man Kratos, who is now a father to a young boy named Atreus. Their story begins with Kratos furiously chopping down a tree and crafting a cremation pit for his beloved wife who has recently died. Both father and son vow to take her ashes to the highest peak in the land as it was her final wish before death. Kratos honours this last wish along with taking care of his only son who he must train to survive the harsh realm of Midgard. However, things become complicated when a stranger suddenly appears and threatens Kratos with death. What begins as a touching father, son journey turns into a deadly cat and mouse game, where battling beasts, fighting wars and killing Gods is the only way forward.
Now I won’t ruin any major plot points in this review but I will say that this entry to the series is as tightly written as the others, with more emotional depth and complexity to the lore. As before, God of War is a reimagining of the great myths, combining different aspects and characters into a grand and epic drama that’s as violent and heart-breaking as the source material. The foundation of father figure adventure is nothing new, as seen in other games, including another major Sony Exclusive “The Last of Us”. But this is an epic tale filled with great character development and gravitas.
We see Kratos in a new light with a cryptic personally and filled with even more anger but compassion than before. This new venture takes a bold direction for the narrative and it's leading man, building the character into a tortured father figure we can admire, yet places him in a new environment to strive his brutality once more. While we have an interesting lead, we have a supporting cast which is just as strong, all of which add their own elements to strengthen the narrative. Whether it’s to introduce dramatic elements or humour, every character has purpose towards the journey.
The story is enhanced in many aspects by the single shot camera which is highly impressive as a technical achievement but does limit the story telling, especially when it comes to building a interesting villain. The main antagonist has such promise but his presence in the game comes merely as boss fights and we don’t find out nearly enough as we should throughout the 30 hour campaign. There were also some moments where the single tracking shot made some cut scenes a little awkward where a good edit would’ve kept the pacing and flow more on track.
Still I’m happy to see a developer tackle an ambitious technical aspect to the story telling and pull it off near perfect. This is one of the strongest aspects in God of War’s presentation and I must say that everything else is outstanding. This is clearly one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen with the level of detail in the environments, dynamic lighting and highly refined particle effects making this look absolutely godlike. Not to mention the excellent sound design from the small sounds of a vastly organic world, the grasp of the axe as it flies back to your hand or the epic and wondrous scores that accompany each and every encounter making them feel like a grand opera of death and carnage. The only issue I had were with the small text fonts in the HUD, inventory and progression screens. These are being address apparently but unless you have a 52inch HD Ultra 4K TV, then you’ll have squint at the screen or put your face right next to it.
Much like Doom 2016, God of War retains many of the elements that made the original games so loved but adds dynamics to give them new life. Combat is given a personal edge with a tighter, over the shoulder perspective while the inclusion of Atreus allows new tactics to be developed as he can distract or fight other enemies while you tackle larger NPCs or a boss. There is a huge arrangement of fighting skills, close combat tactics, ranged manoeuvres and more to learn that makes combat versatile and meaningful. Old fans and new comers will not be disappointed by the impact of each encounter, with an expansive variation of enemies, locations and set pieces that makes every fight feel a little different from the last.
Also the boss battles are still pretty damn awesome ranging from fighting ice trolls, dragons and Nordic Gods. Yet the best boss fight is one of the first with the stranger. I won’t say more, but it’s freaking epic, almost like a scene from Dragon Ball Z. Although I will admit that there's less violence in this entry compared to the previous games. Gore and blood levels are massively reduced and while this is not a major issue, it's a shame this entry doesn't push the envelope or remain faithful to what made the original games so gripping. The older games were so violent strongly because the myths they were based on were just the same.
Kratos can now acquire gear and craft amour from various resources gathers along his journey. The more adventurous players and keen explorers will be rewarded with new areas, boss encounters and an extreme wealth of loot that enhances your skills or reveals more on the fascinating lore of Midgard. There's plenty to explore with an abundance of side quests to enhance your journey in a meaningful way. I can gather some older fans of the series might not feel comfortable with these new RPG elements in the gameplay, but everything is kept to a safe level that never over complicates stats or progression but rather gently guides throughout.
God of War is an impressive game, almost perfect in every way. There are some minor technical issues and story elements which impair on an otherwise amazing game. However these issues can be brushed off as the remainder of the game from its impressive visuals, beautiful sound design, captivating story and highly immersive gameplay can’t be overshadowed. God of War is a perfect adventure game and a prime example of what Microsoft could have if they did exclusives right.
++ Amazing Presentation
++ Epic story
++ Fantastic gameplay
- Some graphical issues with text sizes
- Not enough time to know the main villain