Welcome to Respawning’s Games Club! The purpose of this is to get a bunch of us together every Monday, to allow us the chance to chat shit about whatever takes our fancy in the world of video games and discuss what we’re currently playing.
In celebration of the new God of War finally releasing, we’ve taken a moment to reflect upon the hack ‘n slash genre, looking at our personal favourites of all time!
Oh man, hack n’ slash games – this has to be one of my favorite genres. Specifically, I like myself some Character Action, stuff that’s easy to get into and hard as hell to master but you end up looking cool either way. Overall, I think my favorite game in this genre has to be Devil May Cry 3 for so many reasons (maybe there’s a future article there!). In the same series, I love Devil May Cry 4, simply for the depth of its gameplay and how insane it is to play Dante in that game. Other than that, I love Ninja Gaiden for being really difficult but also extremely satisfying once you start getting good at it.
Metal Gear Rising and Bayonetta are amazing for their production value and absolute spectacle they create with the music and the set pieces. Anything made by Platinum is fantastic, pretty much – even that Transformers game they made was really well done.
One last thing, the one game which I consider Character Action that I REALLY want to get into now is God Hand (PS2). I played it for a while when I was young and remember thinking that it was pretty cool, but after seeing some high level gameplay, I wanna go all in and see how I fare.
Nah, I’m fucking with ya. I’d be a heathen not to mention Diablo III.
Whilst perhaps not a traditional hack & slash title, this game was perhaps the best multiplayer experience of my mid-teens, as myself and 3 friends (Myself a Monk, the Lore freak a Wizard, the Athlete a Barbarian, and the group Douche a Demon Hunter) all shared our first playthrough together, and finishing just in time for the release of the “Reaper of Souls” expansion.
I’m a nut for story and lore, which Diablo has in spades, and I like a chilled out social game. Diablo III was all of those things, making it my go-to unwind game for years on end.
And yes, it is chilled. When you want it to be.
Next to RPGs, hack ‘n slash is my jam! To pick a favourite would be immensely tough, but God of War as a series is definitely up there. The settings, brutal gameplay and puzzle solving in these games just set them apart from a lot of others. I also get a boner whenever Kratos speaks.
As well as this, I’m a huge fan of Darksiders and cannot wait for the third installment. There’s an element of fun in these games that many others don’t capture and it doesn’t take itself too seriously – again the combat, levelling up, and the progression system are really solid.
Going back a ways, I have to give a shout out to Prince of Persia, in my opinion all of those games were awesome. (Check out the 2008 cel-shaded title that everyone forgot!)
God of War was the first game I played on my PS2.
It came bundled in during a time when I had nothing else to play and people were into Greek mythology as a part of pop culture – the Percy Jackson series was gaining traction, and gritty movies about Spartan warriors and their struggles were popular in movie theatres. Of course, I was far too young to play it, surely? But at a mere 11 years of age, I felt determined to take on the world and prove my might against any teenage-only content that this title would have to offer.
And so, for nostalgic reasons like that, I decided that in honour of God of War coming out on the PS4, I’d go back to the PS2 roots of the series and run through them on the PCSX2 emulator (RIP my actual PS2, you will be remembered).
So far, I’m in the latter part of the second title, God of War II, and I’ve finished the original God of War. What surprises me is that the games include a lot more slow content than I remember – after all these years all I remembered was the now-repetitive combat. And sure, there’s a ton of that, but there’s also a focus on environmental exploration and light puzzle-solving that I didn’t expect, at least not in such abundance. My memories of the games made me think it was an 80-20 combat-exploration ratio, but really it’s about 60-40, that’s neat. Not that the puzzles would be challenging to anyone over the age of 6 but still, neat.
These days, it’s easy to dismiss these titles as an inferior version of the critically loved character action games like the Devil May Cry series, PlatinumGames titles like Bayonetta. But I think it’s unfair to look at things in retrospect like that – in my opinion, while God of War‘s combat was ultimately shallower than those games, it still had spectacular graphics and set pieces at the time – and the shallow and mindless gameplay that people now complain about was instead accessible and welcoming to a lot of people who were new to the genre.
It was a different game for a different audience with only passing similarities to DMC or any Platinum titles. And that shows when you compare the sales of all these games – in the minds of newcomers, Kratos was so far above his peers that it was almost an unfair choice, if there was a choice to make at all. The other games were obtuse and required effort, but with Kratos, it was possible to immediately have fun just by pressing square, square, and triangle.
Of course, that didn’t stop the series from stagnating once they’d made a few games – because there was a very real limit to the gameplay variety that they could possibly put in while keeping the accessibility, QTEs were falling out of favor and the story had started to go nowhere once they’d sidestepped around the main conclusion with enough prequels to make George Lucas jealous. And so conclude it did, with God of War 3, a title I could never finish because I didn’t have a PS3 and I’d already lost interest when it came to PS4 (let’s not talk about Ascension).
I’m definitely excited to see what Santa Monica and Cory Balrog have done with the reboot/sequel – because the series was in desperate need of a shakeup to make things feel fresh again, and to make Kratos’ adventures worth experiencing again.
Well, that’s our club folks! Tune in next time to follow the staff on their adventures in gaming!