|Dev: Sony Santa Monica|
|Release: April 20, 2018|
|Players: 1 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language|
I understood that perhaps God of War was telling me to explore and earn more stuff on the side, but it’s not communicated very well what I should have been doing or expecting with respect to cycling through different equipment. Compared to the tighter and more deliberate combat skills and items, the armor felt way less thoughtful. As a result, I never felt compelled to seek out answers myself. On harder difficulties though, I imagine much more importance lies in the loadout. It’s worth noting that taking on side quests led to both more armor discoveries and more resources, but I still never felt like I had the same kind of room to experiment with armor as I did with my weapon skills.
Another interesting new gameplay component revolves around Kratos’ Leviathan Axe. It’s just as much a tool as it is a weapon, and it is often of utmost importance during puzzle sequences. The axe can be aimed and thrown, which has its own set of combat-oriented skills to unlock. But it also has freezing properties, meaning it’s one of the most crucial tools when it comes to freezing trap parts and mechanical bits in place. Recalling the axe is as simple as the press of a button, which also has neat combat implications. It’s an extra thing to keep track of in the heat of battle, but it never gets old to realize you left the axe hanging somewhere, push the button to retrieve it, and feel the distance as it comes sailing back as fast as it came, tearing through enemies in its path.
Speaking of sailing, many of God of War’s best moments are the times it tells us it’s okay for a big action vehicle to be quiet. As Kratos and Atreus move from beat to beat, they’ll speak to each other, and it’s through these little conversations we can track where we are in both the story, the growth of these two, and the development of their fragile relationship. But it’s not just on boat sections. God of War is full of small moments, whether the two are scaling a mountain, solving a tough puzzle, or barely surviving enemy encounters. Indeed, the great victory in this game’s storytelling is its fearless drive to stare down its loud, angry past and take a breather.
It’s not all perfect, though. We’re still looking at a late sequel in a series to make up for lost time in the character development process. Sometimes things come off as heavy-handed as the game really wants you to know you’re supposed to care about something or someone, but doesn’t always stick the landing. Sometimes the two leads will behave inconsistently for the sake of in the moment drama. Especially early on, God of War seems to undermine itself as the story is still finding its footing. By the end through, I realized how much I did care and was rooting for Kratos, Atreus, and Kratos and Atreus.
God of War feels ambitious in the best kind of way: the messy kind. It’s not afraid to get its hands dirty digging at something it thinks is interesting, while knowing it might not find it at that moment. It’s fine with not telling you everything, or with dialing back on the usual tropes of loud music, brutal violence, and hamfisted emotional manipulation. Sometimes, God of War just wants you to take some time and think about how you feel, and compare notes with Kratos as he struggles through his trauma to relate to his kid. And sure, sometimes you beat group of monsters to death by juggling them in the air with a magic axe and a pack of wolves made of lightning fired from a bow. It’s still a video game about a violent, hulking bald man, but it’s thoughtful and, most importantly, genuine.
Writing Team Lead