The time is now and Kratos is back for another installment to the God Of War franchise. It has been a hard road for the Spartan turned God and Santa Monica Studio is here to give us another installment to the franchise. This time with some new twists and turns as well as a new location. Not to mention a whole new pantheon and mythology to have to fight/deal with. If the past titles are any indication, it could be a bloodbath. That is at least if we ignore all of the changes that are coming to the franchise with this new title. It is time for us to dig into it all now though. Here is our review of God Of War exclusively on the PS4.
A good amount of time has passed since we last saw Kratos. He had destroyed the era and world of the Greeks and has moved on, fallen in love, and sired yet another child. This time he has not killed them after being tricked by a god to do so. He is trying to "be better" and pass the lessons on down to his son. Something that his latest wife would have wanted as she has already passed away and not at the hands of the Blades of Chaos. The duo have set out to pay respect to the dead here only to have the world go a bit sideways on them. How will Kratos now handle all of this and still try to be the father he was never let to be? You will need to play the game to find out…
As God Of War has always been one of my top franchises in gaming since it launched, I had to look past the rose-colored lens a bit to truly judge the game. I also had to look past some of the default camera settings to actually play the game as the motion blur and sway of the camera that Santa Monica Studio has here made me physically ill. I am not one that gets motion sickness at all and I have never had issue with "shaky cam" in the past. The way it handled in the game here though, there was just something not right. I was not the only one here to experience as well. Thankfully, it is an option that can be changed in God Of War and after doing so, I never had the issue again. It does feel like I may be missing out on the cinematic vision the team has, at least a bit, but it is something to heed before starting the game up.
The next part of the God Of War that kind of bothered me was the fact that emphasis on the Leviathan Axe goes away at a certain point in the game. I am going to try and not spoil anything here, but while you do use the axe quite often in the game, at a certain point it becomes just a tool and not a new feature added into the franchise. It is a great one out there, it just seems like you have to force yourself to keep using it at later parts of the game. I kind of wished that they would have truly doubled down on this new weapon for God Of War and made it the shining piece we were all lead to believe it would be. This is, of course, based on how I chose to play the game and things could be different for you.
Lastly, also in regards to the camera in God Of War, while the control for the camera system was opened up in the game now, there were too many instances where it was forced and locked down. Many of which being at instances I would have liked to look around or when there was something going on that should have been seen but I was forced to look at a blank wall while Kratos or Atreus did their thing. There were some very specific rune breaking puzzles that when coming to a close had some bigger and more epic sounding things going on, but I was forced to look at Kratos looking down to where I assume Atreus was doing something and could not follow the gaze. Nor could I look up at the results of what was going on until well after everything had played out. I lent to the single camera shot element of the game, but broke the epic-ness of the events too often.
We all knew that the story of God Of War was going to be about how this angry god was going to deal with a new family and keeping them safe. He also wanted to be the father he was never let to be. At least on the basic side of it all without going into story spoilers. I think I have yet to experience any form of storytelling that has hit the nail on the head so perfectly as Santa Monica Studio had here. Too many times I was whisked back to similar points in my life where I was Atreus in the interaction or I was Kratos in the interactions. In characters that I never thought would be able to show these levels of emotion, the team hit it so perfectly. It was so well written and presented that I think many other writers should look at God Of War for a bit of inspiration to show some true human elements in their characters, human or other.
Moving on from the story, I was iffy about the new weapon we were getting in God Of War in terms of the Leviathan Axe. From all of the video and gameplay I had ever seen or experienced before getting to play the game, it never felt like it truly fit; at least in terms of gameplay I have grown to know. Not only does the axe lend itself to the new setting, but it made me wonder why we had to wait through so many other God Of War title to get anything like it. After getting into the swing of it, pun intended, it almost became as second nature as the blades had in the past titles. Sure, it does become a second player in my opinion at a later point in the game, but the whole time we had to focus on it was some of the best in a game that was filled with so many "the bests."
Another thing this God Of War did and gave me was something I never knew I wanted in the franchise, a little bit of open-world-ness. That is a term now. The past titles have always driven us down a specific path and kept us on point from start to end. You can do that in this title as well, but there is a vast and rich world that has been designed for us that needs to be explored here. I would venture to say that this one game has as much world richness and fullness as all of the past God Of War titles combined. You do not feel like it was all set dressing and everything has a meaning. You also want to go exploring not only to find better gear to use in the game, but also to learn about aspects of the game's world that would normally take three games to get. This was another worry I had crushed as soon as I dug into it all.
Last up, as I could keep going on all the positive sides of God Of War all day, has to be the new advancement and gear system for the game. Again, something I did not know I wanted until I experienced it firsthand. In the game here, we now have outside gear that we have to upgrade along the way unlike just the weapons from before. They add a cosmetic change to Kratos and Atreus during the game but also change stats. All of which can be upgraded and micromanaged to make sure you are the best you can be in God Of War. It may seem like an odd thing to focus on, but once you dig in you can find yourself losing a lot of time trying to make sure everything synergizes together well. Something you definitely need to master in the game given how the enemies are not all the same "mooks" from start to finish. They have their own "level" system and knowing how your gear works together can easily grant you extra favor.
As a long-time fan of God Of War in general, it is easy to assume that I will tell you to go out and buy the game now. You would be correct. It is masterfully put together and is an experience even multiplayer-only gamers can enjoy. From the story, to the mechanics, to how it is all presented it is done in a perfect manner. It does have its faults, as I mentioned above, but all of which can so far be mitigated just by player choice and options. Even the one that would require Santa Monica Studio to step in is nowhere near game breaking and more of an annoyance than anything. At the end of the day, it is all worth the time and money to put God Of War into your PS4. Even if you are not a fan or played all of the past title in the franchise.
I give God Of War 296 Killed Draugrs on the Killed Draugr scale.
God Of War — Story Trailer