Game Review: God of War (2018)

I remember the first time I played the first God of War game. My mom said it was too violent. but my dad bought it for me anyway on the condition I didn't tell her where it came from or let her see me play it. The first time I played I got stuck fighting the Hydra and was so mad I put the game down for no less than three months before realizing I just had a crappy controller and it was back to God of War. That's when my love of the series finally got started. Sure my young mind loved the brutality but Kratos was a tortured soul and a quest for revenge that left him just as scarred as his targets was intriguing through the entire main series and even a few of the spinoffs. When a 2018 version was announced I was hesitant. I wasn't looking forward to another HD Remake, Super Duper Re-release or any of that other stuff companies have been using to milk classic games. Instead we were shown Kratos in a new land alongside his son and interests were piqued.

The story sees Kratos struggle through fatherhood as he and boy, Atreus attempt to scatter his mother's ashes from the highest mountain. Unfortunately, things are not that easy with Kratos. Some of the Norse gods have come to the conclusion that Atreus will cause the prophecy of Ragnarok to come to fruition. Additionally, they've come to learn who Kratos is and about his godhood. This causes them to come into conflict with gods and of course Kratos once again becomes the god killer we all know and love.

That's the short version of the story, because you really have to play it. I'm not going to be one of the hipsters who tell you that the God of War series never had good stories, because that's a lie. I will however tell you that this story is on a different level, especially the characters. We see Kratos kill, but he really tries his hardest not to as to set a good example for Atreus. He's really grown as a character and goes out of his way to make sure Atreus doesn't make the same mistakes he made. Sure there's some moments, where he doesn't deal with things in the healthiest ways. When Atreus is forced to kill a man or be killed, he burst into tears and is traumatized. Kratos tells him repeatedly ton "bury it," while holding Atreus. Kratos isn't the greatest dad, but damn, he's trying hard. We have to remember Kratos grew up a Spartan, in a society with minimum compassion. Now he's hugging, it's a big change.

Atreus was always a sickly boy growing up so he goes out of his way to prove that he isn't weak, not realizing that Kratos doesn't see him as weak, just impatient. One thing about Atreus is that he's a kind kid who likes turtles and witches, but especially turtles. He's also smart and charming, but occasionally his father's personality shines through. Stabbing a dead troll repeatedly and yelling "THAT'S WHAT YOU GET," and his arrogance after learning he's a god and getting drunk don't seem far from Kratos in the original trilogy.

The actual game world is beautiful. It's a lot more diverse in the types of scenery we get when looking back at previous God of War games. There's locations filled with beautiful colors, contrasted by dark mountains, crumbling architecture and almost any other landscape you could imagine. Additionally great detail is visible on the weapons especially the Leviathan Axe. Kratos' beard blows in the wind and Atreus has incredibly detailed tattoos. The photo mode really lets you see some of the crazy details in the game.

Gameplay is really smooth. You're not spending all your time trying to protect Atreus, he's helpful and does just fine defending himself. You also don't have to waste time giving him commands because he'll make himself useful. One thing that I like is Kratos feels old. I know he's half god and he still does crazy god stuff, heal himself on cue, lift super heavy things and so on. He feels old because we see him jump and roll around like he did in classic games, but only during cut scenes where he is notably much older and these things aren't as easy. During the gameplay, he doesn't move as fast as he used to. The dodge button sees him step to the side now instead of rolling out of the way. There's more emphasis on trying to block than rolling out of the way. There's no longer a jump button because at his age, who is jumping just because he can? He' just as strong but his attacks focus on strength more than speed and agility now. It really adds to the idea that a lot of time has passed since the original trilogy.

God of War is a great game and builds on the legacy and the good will that the original trilogy had. I don't care for reboots or rerleases of games but this isn't either. This is a whole new game, continuing the same story. It does so in the best way possible, placing Kratos in a new world. Yet, they make all of his feats known and the other characters are aware of his past after his attempts to hide have failed. The sidekick dynamic is usually annoying but they go out of their way to make sure that's not the case here. If you haven't played God of War yet, you need to.

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Game Review: God of War (2018) Game Review: God of War (2018) Reviewed by Darrell S. on Monday, June 18, 2018 Rating: 5

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