God of War (2018) Review


10/10

“She would die to see him live. Only a parent can understand.”“So you would let me kill you?”“If it meant that you would live... Yes.”

With the emerging popularity of multiplayer games and battle Royale games, there has arguably been more pressure put on single player stories. Seemingly everyone in the world (Thanks Drake) is playing games like Fortnite, PUBG and Overwatch. While these types of games are incredibly popular, there are a small group of us that are left wanting more. As a child I was captivated by stories of heroes and emotional hardship. The new God of War hit the mark on what I look for in a good game, and it’s one that I will remember forever. For those of you who haven’t played it yet, this game is remarkably different than the previous trilogy. The most obvious change is the camera angle which has switched from a far view to a very close third person. What is most impressive is how the entire game is one continuous shot, as there is never a loading screen for transitions. Going straight from fighting a boss, climbing on top of a dragon, to simple exploration, all with no camera cuts is just remarkable. The franchise also switched to a much more RPG like theme with an emphasis on crafting weapons and armor. Being able to craft and update new armor, talismans, enchantments, and abilities was a grind, but one that was insanely rewarding and refreshing.

The new game takes the fast paced, combo based, hack and slash combat of the previous installments and slows it down to its roots. Even though it’s slower, the combat in this game feels so much more rewarding. Hitting someone in the chest with the Leviathan Axe gives one this sense of raw power, and using the Blades of Chaos is fast, brutal and yet oddly familiar. The true power of Kratos lies within the Runic abilities you can find or buy. Both weapons have a Light Runic Attack and Heavy Runic Attack that bind to L1, and these are what let you devastate your enemies. These powerful attacks are crucial to defeating tougher enemies such as Trolls and Valkyries. There are endless ways to realize your god-killing dreams such as creating a blizzard, raining down meteors from the sky or becoming a tornado of fiery death. The most pivotal difference in gameplay is an obvious one: Atreus. Never before have you had the ability to control a companion, and I haven’t had one this useful since Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite. As the game progresses, Atreus learns a multitude of incredibly handy abilities. He can shoot extraordinarily fast, stun enemies, strangle them or use chain lightning arrows. He can hit aerial targets with ease, and stun enemies that are too fast for kratos to hit. Upgrade his abilities before Kratos. Seriously, mash Square and you win God of War.

As with every God of War game there is no shortage of epic boss battles. What is incredible is that this game takes it a step further and makes it every fight you have. Every enemy has their own finishing move and no matter how many times I did it, it NEVER stopped putting a smile on my face. Kratos rips people in half, impales them with their own Spears, rips wolves down the middle with their own jaw, chops ogre faces in half with an axe, rips the hearts out of ancient elementals and rips the wings and spines out of Valkyries. I can’t even get the cork out of a wine bottle and my guy is killing lightning dragons with crane claws. When you aren’t beating up gods with your bare hands, you are left to explore an absolutely gorgeous world. Set in the Nine Realms of the Norse mythology, you make your way through all manner of environments. Using the branches of the World Tree Yggdrasil, you tread through the snowy forests and rivers of Midgard, through the twilight land of the Dark Elves, up the roaring volcanos of Muspelheim and to the icy underworld of Helheim. I would like to mention again that this is all. With. No. Loading. Screens. It is a massive gaming achievement that is done flawlessly.

As a long time RPG fan, a strong story has always been the guiding light for me. It’s always been hard for me to get lost in worlds, but I’ve always found myself lost in the minds and feelings of a character. God of War was always a very personal series for me. I played the original God of War as an angry 11 year old child. One who also wanted revenge on the gods for the situation I was given. I felt like everything I loved was taken from me, and Kratos’s fight resonated deeply with me. I played this God of War instead as a 24 year old married man. A man who is exhausted and beaten down. A man who finds strength from the past, and fights for what he loves. As Kratos wrapped the Blades of Chaos around his wrists one more time, I couldn’t help but hurt with him. No longer out of hatred or vengeance, he chained himself again for the life of his child. I thought to myself that if Kratos can own his sufferings, and use them to fight for what he loves, then I can too.

God of War is proof that video games are an art form. This isn’t just a console seller, this is a masterpiece and one of the top games of the past decade. Even if you haven’t played the original trilogy, I tell you, pick this game up. This story is one that deserves to be listened to.

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