God of War Review - Parenting, Action, Brutality, and All-Time Classic Design


"It's a transformative, introspective sequel, taking up the Herculean task of shunting a series that, for as thrilling as its spectacle was, epitomised an embarrassing adolescent phase of games into something resembling actual maturity", says Gerardi. He has retired to Scandinavia, is recently widowed and father to a tweenaged son who knows nothing of his god-slaying, blood-soaked past in Greece. Kratos doesn't feel like the unstoppable god he has been in the past.

There's a simplicity to this underlying quest, refreshingly devoid of the convoluted God-politicking that previous games in the series have fallen into.

Cory responded: "Thank you, pops". It's a human story, and adds a delicate heart to the adventure's heft.

The game is one continuous shot, with no interruptions; irritating necessities such as loading screens are hidden so effectively that you barely realise they are there. This allows Kratos to become a compelling character again. When he rows, the controller quivers.

The game offers three difficulty levels that range from an easy mode for players who "want a story" to an extreme difficulty for those looking for a challenge fit for a true god of war. Comprehending God of War's memorable places is as satisfying as sinking the axe into a demon's skull - alternating between thinking and fighting gives God of War a rhythm that can be absorbing for hours at a time. God of War is no longer an old-fashioned action series. Even after finishing the campaign and a decent chunk of the side content (of which there is a ton), I'm still learning how to dodge, parry, and use all of the combo moves I learned along the way effectively in battle. You can, for example, hurl the axe onto a target and call it back to you right after, hitting whatever it goes through. The result is frenetic, especially when combined with special "runic" attacks that might freeze everyone in your vicinity or see you diving shield-first into a wall of enemies.

All of this applies to your son, Atreus, too. What could have easily become an annoyance is effective in how it ties your ward into the action, linking his narrative development to the gameplay. The more rare and powerful they are, the more useful.

Good luck trying to complete the story in one sitting, though.

God of War games have always relished a sense of sublime spectacle, with gargantuan enemies and sweepingly fantastical architecture. Like Kratos, God of War recalls the past while acknowledging the need to improve. The game pushes the limits of the PS4 graphically and packs so much mythos and backstory into its world-building that at times it feels more like a novel than a video game. It is among the most visually impressive games made - so much so that rendering it makes the PlayStation 4 sound as if it's about to expire. Kratos is a broken man here, having lost his wife and unable to nurture his son in a meaningful way. The additional visual output seems to take a toll on performance. Numerous issues reviewers have are on the technical side of thing, as God of War seems to push PS4 hardware to its limit. "God of War is a reflection of what we play". Now, those same players have jobs, partners, children; their fantasies of agency tapered with reveries of parenthood. Watching Kratos, who has been a one-note character for much of his existence, grow and evolve over the course of the game, both as a parent and a "person" (even though, yes, he is still a god), is genuinely stirring.

With our God of War review finally live, we can talk about the game's graphic options for the PS4 Pro. There is something very traditional in its design, nearly creaking in its combination of RPG looting and Metroidvania puzzle solving, but this is a game with such grand vistas; such gorgeous production values; such enjoyable setpieces that all its parts come together wonderfully.

The father-son relationship is handled shrewdly by the developers. A fantastic, epic adventure.