God of War Review
Our resident God of War experts has scoured the realms of Norse mythology and is ready to tell you all about it. Here’s Pause Resume’s God of War Review from Alex Sodhi …
It feels like a lot of time has passed since we last saw Kratos, and a lot has changed from the days of tearing off Greek Gods heads, laying with many fair maidens and necking a bottle of red. The franchise that once thrived on its adrenaline rushing combat and brutality has shifted slightly but in the best possible way. The story continues on from where it left off in God of War 3, however, the whole story and Kratos himself have been revitalised, leading to a slower paced adventure with much more character and narrative depth than ever before.
Things kick off with Kratos in the Norse realm of Midgard, where it seems Kratos has set up a nice little retirement nest egg for himself. The whole story revolves around Kratos and his son Atreus fulfilling his recently deceased wife’s last wish: to carry her ashes to the highest peak in the realm.
From the outset you are thrown into a deeply immersive storytelling experience, everything flows from one continuous camera shot. There were often times where I would be watching a cutscene and it would end only to realise a few moments later that I was back in the driving seat. This whole approach means your focus is always right there with Kratos and Atreus. The only time you will ever see a loading screen of any type is if you die – by never leaving Kratos’ side you are so immersed in every aspect of the world, which for me was one of the most enjoyable stories I have played to date.
The whole premise of God of War is set around one underlying element, Kratos’s relationship with his son – specifically guiding Atreus to become something better than Kratos. Atreus, who at the start was at best an acquaintance, grows and evolves over the 40+ hours I put into the game into a character I feel I couldn’t live without in a God of War game now. His impact on God of War is something that really surprised me. The dynamic between the two evolves and you feel you are really part of that. When Atreus does something stupid or says something dumb the typical response will be “Boy!” but as time goes on and Atreus proves himself you start to hear “My son”. Dad of the year award will certainly go to Kratos this year.
God of War has always been known for its hard-hitting combat style, throwing waves upon waves of enemies at you and letting you rack up huge killstreaks. Again, the tone has shifted, the combat whilst it still maintains the classic brutality, feels more impactful. Kratos moves like a heavy hitting boxer, with purpose and every single move comes with huge weighting behind it so that you feel you’re controlling a wild animal at times.
Previously, Kratos would have access to a wide array of weapons to cut through his enemies. Now players must use the Leviathan Axe, a weapon that itself has a deep and meaningful history. The way you use the axe is up to you, it has the ability to be thrown and recalled and, if you are like me, you can just picture being Thor and recalling Mjolnir (which is one of the most satisfying feelings in the game). It has a light and heavy attack and also two different special moves that can be upgraded and swapped out as you acquire new moves throughout the game.
Kratos also isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty with just his bare hands, so going for hand-to-hand combat is not just an option, at times it’s the preferred method. There are so many combos and ways to utilize the tools you are given, it becomes a preference thing by the end of the game as to what sort of play style you want to use because the choices are yours.
One of the only things I really missed from previous God of War games was the crazy boss battles, especially in God of War 3. Whilst there are still some huge enemies to take down and some of the best boss fights in the series, they just aren’t as frequent as players have been used to. Some may say that this isn’t a bad thing because it allows the story to develop more and put emphasis behind the limited boss battles that you do have.
Whilst our two lead characters are represented brilliantly, the supporting cast is second-to-none; in particular, Mimir. I won’t spoil much about who he is, but during your time on a boat whilst rowing between different zones in Midgard he tells some of the most interesting stories and does a great job at explaining the overall points of Norse Mythology. I’d often find myself not docking so I could finish listening to what he has to say. Before you cross paths with Mimir, Kratos does take a crack at telling stories during the short boat rides that you traverse but his blunt attitude doesn’t really make for great storytelling – although it does have some comedic effect.
God of War has some of the most interesting lore I have ever seen in a video game. I found myself reading every bit of lore readings, artifacts and attentively listening to every story. Going out to find every single script, artifact and side quest never felt like a chore but more something I felt I simply had to do. I found it was more of a reward in itself to go out and collect all of the knowledge that was available in the game, as it will definitely pay dividends in future games in the series.
God of War Review Conclusion
There is no other way to put it, God of War is a masterpiece. It takes a huge step away from its roots but still manages to hold onto the things that made it great in the first place. The new direction has set up a lot of potential in the future and I can’t wait to see what comes after this.
We tested God of War after purchasing a retail copy. God of War is available now for PlayStation 4.
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