Get prepared for the Feels
As an avid fan of the original ‘God of War’ series, I am not gonna lie; I was super pumped for this game. Not like the regular level of pumped where you casually think about it for a few minutes, smile gleefully inward with anticipation, then get back to your day. No! Not with this game. I was actively watching all the available video footage, reading all the online interviews with game developer, and discussing theories intensely with coworkers leading up to the day of the release. I had the weekend of the release off from work, and was stocked up on all essential weekend marathon gear.
Needless to say… I was excited! Then the game came out, and all my preparation leading up to that point hadn’t truly prepared me for how different this game was from the original series. I had a basic understanding of the new fighting mechanics, and I could appreciate the fact that Kratos had a much more stoic attitude after (spoilers from God of War 3) practically destroying an entire nation for his revenge, but it still took a lot for me to get used to everything new the game had to offer. It wasn’t till I was halfway through the game, still mastering the new and much more controlled fighting style, that it hit me. The reason this game felt so different, and what I believe the developers of the game where trying to do is force the player to mature.
Kratos has matured in his life, both through becoming a father and realizing the error of his ways in destroying multitudes of gods. It explains everything from the way he fights to the way he interacts with his son, even through the main plot of the story, which is simply spreading his wife’s ashes on the tallest peak in the all the realms. He uses his anger as a tool to be used for certain moments in time instead of something that he lets run ragged and destroy everything around him. With combat you have to carefully analyze the enemies before you and then plan how you are going to incapacitate them, while in previous games you could easily get through hordes of enemies by alternating simple button presses. It was once I realized this that I was truly able to appreciate the game as I continued to kick butt throughout the nine realms of Nordic Mythology.
Anyways, with that rant / precursor out of the way let the official SloothGames review begin:
While the basic plot of the story was already mentioned earlier, it is really so much deeper than that. The story of God of War is deep story about Fatherhood and absolution from sins of the past. Kratos tries to prepare his son for the road ahead of him, while trying to bury his past in the dark. A majority of what makes this game such a beautiful piece of art and story in a playable form is the true and seamless development of this relationship between Kratos and Atreus as they traverse the harsh Norse environment to spread the ashes of Atreus’s mother on the peak of the highest mountain in all the realms.
One big warning going into this game: if the only Norse mythology you know is a certain “god of thunder” from a certain Marvel movie series, your going to be surprised at how little mythology you know. I pride myself in a deep appreciation of true mythologies, ranging from ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian, to Greek, Roman, and Nordic cultures. This game truly delves into some of the deep dark areas of Nordic Mythology. Be prepared to see some truly dark stuff.
I’m not going to go too much into the story of God of War because it truly is a journey that needs to be experienced fully to be appreciated. However, I will say that it was one of the better story-based games that I have played in a long while. The story progression was truly a masterpiece in form of gameplay and narrative. The characters and voice actors truly brought to life every Character in the game, making each a unique encounter with loads of interesting dialogue and backstory.
One of the great new things that was introduced during this addition to the God of War series is the heavily altered combat style. Instead of the previously aggressive and fast-paced top/down action of the original games obtained by Kratos’ Blades of Chaos, this game provides you with a much more strategic approach through the use of Kratos’ new weapon, the Leviathan Axe. A frost axe that was originally forged for Kratos’s now deceased wife, Kratos wields the axe with deft precision and deadliness. Along with the new primary weapon is a different, over-the-shoulder camera angle that makes combat feel much more intimate and deadly.
The default combat style is new to the series and prominently relies on using the right and left bumpers during combat (as seen in the above photo). It can be customized, along with several other button options within the control’s settings. On top of simply being able to strike with the ax, Kratos is able to throw the ax and summon it to return, very similar to another well known Character of Norse mythology. Kratos has a light ax throw (R1) that bounces off enemies and can stop certain foes right in their tracks, and a heavy axe throw (R2) that will actually cause the weapon to imbed itself into weaker enemies and cause them to freeze. In addition to everything listed above, when the Axe is out of Kratos’s hands, there is a whole new set of combat styles that are made available through the use of melee combat. With all of these options available to Kratos a world of combo possibilities are opened.
As you progress through the game, more and more combos become available to use as you acquire experience points through killing enemies and accomplishing different combat feats. On top of your own abilities you are able to command Atreus in encounters to shoot arrows at enemies, this also gets better through time and invested experience. Another new addition to this new game in the series is the addition of leveling up through armor and equipment. Unlike other standard RPG games, you cannot improve Kratos’s level through any other means then forging or upgrading Kratos armor or weapons.
It is only through carefully manipulating all of these gameplay elements that you can truly master all that this game has to offer you. However, a word of warning: This game is unforgiving in its style of combat. You will die, probably a lot, and that is okay, it is required to get better at this game and to realize the strengths and weakness of each enemy you fight. The save system does a good job of not making you have to back track a long ways when you die, but if you aren’t prepared and you haven’t mastered the fighting system, you will have difficulty with this game, unless of course you choose the easiest difficulty… but that’s none of my business.
Atreus: The unwanted key that made the game great
I’ll be honest here for a minute, Atreus pissed me off at the beginning of the game. He would barely help during fights, and his complete attitude just rubbed me the wrong way. As a gamer, I have never been a fan of allies that I have had to baby sit (e.g Ashely from Resident Evil 4 or Claptrap from Borderlands), and I was really concerned that this kid was going to be just that. He was this loudmouthed little kid that would constantly do the wrong thing at the wrong time and completely mess up my flow in combat.
However, as the game continued, Atreus slowly started becoming more efficient in combat. He occasionally knocking enemies down or hitting and enemy that were trying to attack Kratos from his blind side. Over time, my feelings towards this kid started to change as well, from the child that I felt I had to baby sit while I did all of the work, to a kid who was doing things that I was really proud of and actually being and asset to me in battle. There were moments towards the later portions of the game that I was verbally praising Atreus after fight sequences because his perfectly timed assistance saved my skin.
It wasn’t till the end of the game that Atreus truly started to shine, almost always following up one of Kratos’ attacks with either arrows or attacking the enemies directly, and I truly felt proud to have this child watching my back while I was playing. The developers did a great job of manipulating my emotions towards him so that I truly felt I was taking this kid under my wings and making him into a powerful warrior that could handle himself in battle.
God of War takes everything that you loved about the original games, flipped them upside down on its head, and makes you fall in love with it all over again. The characters are well rounded, fully fleshed out characters. The controls are difficult to grasp at the beginning but once mastered allow a beautiful style of combat that allows you to feel like a total bada** as you fight through hordes of enemies. And the feeling of pride you have towards watching Kratos’ son grow from a whiney, useless child to a powerful source of strength and reliability that you are proud to fight by. Santa Monica Studios has truly developed a game that not only lives up to the hype that was portrayed leading up to its release, but also establishes itself as a new generation of the God of War series, and if what they have said about the future of this series is to be believed, there are many more games in store for the future.
Story 10/10 – Well crafted and gripping story plus character progression that truly pulls you into the game and makes you feel a part of the story.
Gameplay 9.5/10 – Cleaver combat designs and controls that allow you to conquer the world as the God of War, only slight complaint here is the somewhat difficult learning curve that is required to do master elements of the games.
Sound 10/10 – Beautiful soundtrack that accompanied the game, perfectly using the music and environment to immerse the player into a Nordic world.
Replay ability 9/10 – With the new implementation of an open world environment and multiple difficulty levels to satisfy even the most masochistic of players, this game offers loads to do even after you complete the main campaign.
Investment (does not effect final score) 7/10 – This is definitely a game that you’ll want to make sure you can put a good hour or two in during each play session. The story alone will make the game hard to put down. But if you’re willing to suffer through breaking up the story into smaller pieces you should be able to manage. It definitely would be wise to wait to start this game till you can invest approximately 2-3 hours into it, as the beginning of the game throws a lot at you and will take a little time to implement as you learn combos.
Final Score: 9.75