It’s hard to miss the God of War praise sweeping the internet right now. Some are already claiming it as Game of the Year while others are beyond pleased with the franchise’s latest addition. Unlike Fortnite, all this hype is very well-deserved.
Tears of War
Despite never having played any of the previous games before, the action-adventure series is definitely recognizable as a mythology-driven game. It originally debuted in 2005 on the PlayStation 2 and revolves around a Spartan warrior named Kratos (voiced by Christopher Judge) who becomes the Greek God of War and sets on a journey of training with his young son, Atreus (Sunny Suljic), to teach him how to survive in an unforgiving world of monsters and gods. The two end up in the world of Norse mythology in the PS4 version of the game, also deemed as a new direction (or second era) of the franchise.
At its core, God of War is an emotional and cathartic journey, unlike anything I have ever played before. It’s impressive how fully fledged these characters seem from the start, even for a game that appears to work just as well as a standalone entity as it does as a new version of a 13-year-old game.
Kratos and Atreus’ complex father/son dynamic carries the heaviest weight from start to finish with some of the game’s most heart-wrenching moments occurring on a canoe. There are genuine, raw moments in God of War far more tear-inducing than your typical video-game. Think of any episode of This is Us and multiply it by two.
One-Shot for the Win
In a groundbreaking new style that covers 35+ hours of gameplay, God of War appears to be shot entirely as a one-shot game (if you don’t count the times you die). It’s a flashy gimmick for sure, but an effective one nonetheless as it allows us to stick alongside Kratos during every fight, monster, challenge, and most importantly every thought. The single-camera shot style also allows the gamer to become much more invested in the hero’s journey, which brings us back to the emotional aspect of the game.
Unlike two of my favorite games ever (Uncharted and The Last of Us), it’s refreshing to see God of War rely heavily on the sidekick in appropriate amounts. Without going into spoiler territory here, it’s safe to admit that Kratos utilizes Atreus perfectly throughout the game thanks to Atreus’ backpack arrows. The only drawback is probably having to listen to Kratos call him “boy” about a million times, but at least that gave us a couple of hilarious memes. Silver lining, I guess.
Also ridiculous amount of fun is Kratos’ first weapon of choice, an upgradable Leviathan Axe that is just as exciting and cool as Thor’s hammer, Mjlonir. There’s an indescribable, satisfying feeling that comes with throwing the axe around and whipping it back to your hand with the press of a button. The sound effects, topped with the slight vibration from the controller, make slicing and killing an enemy all the more entertaining.
It’s almost difficult to pinpoint who the main villain of the game is, if only because a good chunk of it is spent on world-building and area discovery that by the time we meet Baldur, it feels like he is just another one of the monster bosses Kratos needs to kill to advance in the game. With that said, there’s no denying that even the supporting characters get a decent amount of screen-time here, all of which who are just as well developed as the main characters, making God of War an all-around masterpiece of a game.
God of Quotes
Athena: There’s nowhere you can hide, Spartan. Put as much distance between you and the truth as you want, it changes nothing. Pretend to be everything you are not: teacher, husband, father. But there is one unavoidable truth you will never escape. You cannot change. You will always be a monster.
Kratos: I know. But I am your monster no longer.
Atreus: You sure I can’t turn into a wolf?
Kratos: You are welcome to surprise me.
Atreus: I wish I knew I was a god. I wouldn’t have felt bad I killed so many elves.
Mimir: I’m not sure that’s the lesson.
Atreus: (to Kratos) Just because you hate being a god doesn’t mean I have to.
Atreus: So, are we really doing this, letting the serpent swallow us?
Kratos: You don’t have to come.
Atreus: Well, I’m not missing this.
Atreus: I’ve never been in a giant’s belly either. How about you, father?
Kratos: Never one that was not trying to eat me.
Mimir: We really should expect that sort of response at this point.
Fueled by an emotional story, a pulse-pounding score, and unique gameplay, God of War is undoubtedly one of the best video-games of the year. Highly recommended.