Review by J.T. Johnson
DEVELOPER: SIE Santa Monica Studio
PUBLISHER: Sony Interactive Entertainment
If anyone needed a master class in how to redefine a series while staying true to the original concept, then look no further than “God of War”. There are several things that make this game stand out as a reimagining of the long-running series, but it also keeps the same frantic action and puzzle solving that the series is known for. The biggest change, though, is the utterly engaging story of a father and son that find themselves on a deeply personal journey.
It has been many years since Kratos took out his vengeance on the Greek gods and he has since moved to Midgard. He got married to a woman named Faye and had a son while trying to live in peace within the forests of this new Norse world. Unfortunately, his wife has recently passed away and he must take his son, Atreus, to a mountain where they can spread Faye’s ashes.
Before they can begin their journey, though, a stranger suddenly appears and soon reveals that he knows who Kratos really is and tries to kill the former Ghost of Sparta. After dealing with the stranger, Kratos reveals to Atreus that they must go sooner than expected. On their journey, a son will try to bond with his distant father while the father tries to protect his son from a past he is still trying to escape.
The first thing that you will notice about this game is that it is absolutely breathtaking to look at! I have not seen too many games that look this good. Developer Santa Monica built their own in-house engine to run the game and it works almost flawlessly. There are times where I would forget to play the game because I just wanted to look around at this new world filled with world-sized serpents, dragons and, of course, Norse gods.
The most important thing, though, is the gameplay and Santa Monica has perfected their new direction. While there are still plenty of monsters to beat up, there is now strategy and skill involved instead of just smashing buttons and taking part in old fashioned QTE moments. This time, Kratos has an Ax and a shield that he can upgrade along with his armor, meaning that if you get into a situation you can’t handle, you can “level up” your armor and stats in order to get the upper hand.
You do this by two means. In the game, you will meet two dwarves named Brok and Sindri, two feuding brothers who also help with upgrading your weapons and armor. After this, you can also set runes into the weapons and armor that will give you more powers and defense. Another way to upgrade is by unlocking new moves and combos via easy to use skill trees.
The biggest change, though, is the fact that this time Kratos is not alone. His son Atreus is along for the ride and he too can be upgraded to a certain extent, especially his bow and arrow. During your fights, you can have Atreus attack an enemy in order to do damage and distract them, thus adding another strategic element to the combat.
During the game, you will be traveling through various realms via the Bifröst. Most of the time, you’ll be in Midgard where you take care of most of your challenges and side missions. In the other realms, you are usually there to track down an item or overcome specific challenges.
While the game has many open world elements, the truth is that the game’s story is still fairly linear and what a story it is. The conflict between Kratos and his son is intriguing all the way through as we learn more about both of these characters, specifically what Kratos has been doing since the original games and Atreus’ own insecurities. Don’t worry about the past games if you’ve never played them. The game tells you exactly what you need to know about Kratos’ past and it is a great jumping on point for new players.
The truth is that I didn’t know what to think when Sony announced that they were softly rebooting the God of War franchise. Thankfully, they have breathed new life into the series with a game where I seriously found very few blemishes. It is a genuine masterpiece and a title truly deserving of its Triple-A status. This is one epic journey that no self-respecting gamer should miss!