Video game dads usually aren’t Father of the Year material. Bowser and Donkey Kong allow their children to tempt all manner of dangers. Mr. Burnside from Resident Evil: Code Veronica rips off the Umbrella Corporation and that gets his wife shot full of holes, as well as him and his son imprisoned. Kratos from God of War ain’t much better.
He murdered his wife and daughter due to the heartless chicanery of the Olympian god Ares. No Father’s Day cards for him, forever.
As odd as it may sound, 2018’s God of War is Kratos’ redemption as a parent. The perpetually grumpy and forever furious God of War is reunited with his estranged son, Atreus, after the boy’s mother dies. As a final touching tribute, Kratos and Atreus embark on a perilous journey to scatter her ashes on a mountain top.
Throughout their adventure, in-between barking orders at and recounting poorly told fables to Atreus, Kratos lets his adamantium guard down, showing compassion here and there for the boy. Atreus in turn provides comic relief mocking and needling Kratos while also acting as his conscience as they encounter those needing their help along the way to their destination.
The awkward interactions and relationship between the earnest Atreus and the cold-blooded Kratos are at the core of the storytelling. Kratos is thrust into the role of a father. He is not suited for fatherhood in any way. Atreus is the dutiful son, finding it impossible to impress or even live up to his father’s expectations.
God of War takes place in the nine realms of Norse mythology. The previous editions did a far better job incorporating the Olympian deities and their legends into the games. Despite it being picturesque and striking, the Norse setting is not used to its fullest, as the Olympian mythology was in the previous installments. The boss fights against Hephaestus, Hercules, Hades, etc, were visually mind-blowing. The ability to take the boss weapons and add them to Kratos’ arsenal really made the experience satisfying.
All of those weapons and regrettably his trademark double-chained blades are replaced by the Leviathan Axe, shield and Artreus’ Talon Bow, all which can be upgraded. The Leviathan Axe can be thrown and automatically boomerangs back to Kratos’ grip like Thor’s hammer Mjolnir in Marvel Comics. It also has the ability to freeze objects and release bursts of energy. While it’s impressive and fun to use it doesn’t compare to all of the cool weapons Kratos has wielded previously. God of War veterans will certainly feel like something is missing as they engage the enemy. The fights, and in particular the executions, are still crazy entertaining but they feel less rewarding.
Sony’s Santa Monica Studio prudently cut back on the puzzles and riddles when they released God of War 3. However, they return in droves for God of War. Even though most of them aren’t terribly difficult to solve as they are more bothersome than anything else, at times there are too many. Sometimes it gets to the point where they just interfere with the game’s momentum.
God of War uses a third person, over-the-shoulder free camera instead of the fixed cinematic camera. I actually prefer this when it comes to combat. While battling enemies I would rather see everyone around me, the entire battlefield, like in the Batman Arkham games. One element that is kinda cool is that the square button on the controller signals Artreus to fire his bow. That can come in handy when you want to distract foes or deal a long range killing blow while Kratos battles on.
Like all games now, there is a crafting element to God of War. You can fashion new armour and new items to increase the power of your weapons. This is through the assistance of two rival sibling blacksmiths who add much humour to an otherwise very dour story.
God of War stands on its own as a decent game and entry in the Kratos saga. However, it is missing the elements that made all the previous games such epic experiences. Because of that God of War is good, but not great. There are just no wow moments. Moments like the Cronos battle in God of War 3,or the final battle against Ares in the original game. God of War comes close to delivering those memorable moments, however, it just doesn’t reach that summit.
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- THE GOOD
- Fascinating relationship between Kratos and Atreus.
- A gripping story.
- Creepy assortment of monsters.
- Incredible backdrops and settings.
- Lots of violent mayhem.
- THE BAD
- No god-like special weapons.
- Norse mythology not used to its full potential.
- The combat is not as rewarding.
- No wow moments.
- Too many puzzles.
For those who have never experienced the series, God of War is a fantastic game, the best game to be released so far this year. Compared to the other entries in the series though it just doesn’t measure up.