For the last month or so I’ve taken a break from everything game-wise and have put everything into God of War; it’s not very often I play one game exclusively for this long and there’s good reason for it.
You’ve read tonnes of great reviews telling you to play this game, and I completely agree, you need to play this game without a doubt, but I’m not gonna review it… I’m just gonna crush on it – There are major spoilers ahead.
God of War is a continuation of the series, although at the beginning it’s not obvious. It takes place mostly in Midgard, but you do travel to the majority of the other Norse realms too – The story follows Kratos and his new son Atreus as they struggle with their identity and the death of Atreus’ mother. The main story line is essentially that Atreus does not know he’s a God-by-birth as Kratos has hidden his past from him – Presumably due to Kratos’ actions in the previous games, the Norse gods are hunting them for otherwise unknown reasons; in order to lay Atreus’ mother to rest, they must get to the highest point in the 9 Realms to scatter her ashes, which is known simply as Jotunheim. Along the way you meet a handful of allies and hell of a lot of enemies and have a fucking good time, all things considered – The story is absolutely fantastic, the dialogue has been perfectly written and there’s never a lost moment. My only issue with the whole thing was right at the end. It was too much of a cliffhanger for me and…
SPOILER ALERT FOR GOD OF WAR (2018)’S ENDING. DO NOT READ ONWARDS IF YOU HAVE NOT BEATEN THE GAME.
I wasn’t happy with Baldur being the main big bad, especially as he was pretty easily despatched. This leads us to believe that in the next game, Freya (Who turns out to be Baldur’s mum, now seeking revenge) and Thor will be the main enemies here onwards… So you killed Baldur, and the rest of Thor’s sons… And that’s kind of it. Now this isn’t a bad thing by any means and the valkyries are some of the most fun I’ve had with optional quests, but I feel like another, bigger god should have been in there… Plus I’m wet for Thor.
Anyways, you get to Jotunheim, find out Atreus’ mum was a Norse giant and Atreus’ real name is… Loki. Boom mic drop, credits roll and that’s game end. So yeah that was it. I was a teeny bit disappointed there wasn’t more, but maybe that’s just because it was so good.
With the story, Kratos and Atreus’ relationship develops a lot – At the beginning Kratos is a very angry dad with a lot of secrets and Atreus is a young, immature boy who wants to impress his dad… But come the end there’s a definite and obvious change in both which is pulled off very well.
So what’s kept me coming back so much?
When I finished the story I was thinking about finishing the game, but instead I decided to kill all of the valkyries (In case you don’t know these are optional side bosses), and at this point I thought I was done, but I’d almost finished Nilfheim (An optional realm which loads you with powerful armour)… Then last night I looked through all the realms and realised I really wasn’t far off the platinum, and seeing as I have the plat for the first 3 games I kind of have to. So the main thing that’s keeping me coming back after I’ve finished the great story is the combat, gameplay and the beauty of the game itself.
Jesus Christ they’ve built a good combat system that isn’t just random button bashing, not that it’s ever been, but this really is a 3rd person action game for the mature gamers out there. I remember when I first started the game I struggled a little as it wasn’t just ‘swing your axe around until everyone is dead’, but instead planning and blocking and parrying and dodging. Using Atreus to distract and paralyse enemies, expose your enemies weaknesses, etc is incredibly tactical and rewarding. There is nothing I can find fault with in the combat system, in my opinion. I enjoyed every single battle and looked forward to every big fight that came my way. People have likened it to Dark Souls, which isn’t a bad comparison, but it’s not as brutal, and when you start levelling up and finding your way to fight it becomes very rewarding. And another spoiler..!
You eventually get your Chaos Blades, although quite far into the game. These are so fun to pick up and just go crazy in a big group of enemies, also to grapple and burn certain enemies. But I still found myself relying on the axe much more. The throwing mechanics are great, without anything else, you can throw the axe anywhere and call it back any time. It sounds ridiculous but its so cool when you do it and pull it back through an enemy to stun it. The axe is a brutal but quick weapon that never gets old as you cleave through hordes of draugr, werewolves, elves and many more.
There’s a subtle brutality that runs alongside all of the combat which results in some really satisfying gore (My personal favourite was stunning a werewolf until you could beat it then rip its jaw down its entire body), you can always use the axe as a cleaver which can slice certain enemies all the way down.
It isn’t just the combat, but also the settings of each location and the world that you’re playing in; every moment and place you visit feels epic and huge. There are times where you approach massive dead giants, statues as tall as the sky and towering dragons and nothing feels small. I was constantly panning my camera around, taking screenshots and really admiring the craft in this game. None of this would look mind blowing without the amazing graphics in this game, every detail has been picked up and thought about, such as tracks left in the snow.
I’m a huge God of War fan, and quite honestly this game excelled my expectations. The story is compelling, the combat is fresh and exciting and the graphics and environments are absolutely brilliant. My only niggle is that I wanted more at the end, but it’s an almost perfect game. EVERYONE who has a PS4 HAS to play this game.
If I had to score it it’d be a 9/10.