God Of War (PS4) | Review – A Norse Beginning

Developer: Santa Monica Studio

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Release Date: April 20th 2018

Platforms: PlayStation 4

 

This reminds me of old dads trying to use their cameras for the first time.

Premise

After seeking his revenge on Zeus, the Ghost Of Sparta still failed to find peace. Far from home, he starts a new life in Midgard, in an attempt to move on with his new love Faye, only for her to die to what appears to be sickness. Now, Kratos and his son Atreus must fulfill her last wish; to scatter her ashes on the highest peak of all realms.

Reinventing The Wheel

This game is a complete recreation of what God Of War once was. The controls, camera, and story-telling are entirely different. Actually, it’s easier to tell you what remained: Kratos, pretty much. It’s not the first time a franchise changes itself completely, and it can easily piss off old fans of the franchise. Honestly, when this game first came out, I was not interested at all. It felt to me like one of my favorite franchises simply started to rip off Dark Souls, which I’m personally not a fan of. But, once I gave this game a chance, I understood why they did it. The story was over. The franchise was living out on spin offs, such as Ascension. It needed a fresh start for the developers to unleash their creativity, and so they did it. And it’s definitely worth cheking out.

From the creators of Mjölnir, we give you: The Leviathan Axe.

Gameplay

As said, the game is far different from previous entries. The commands are overall the same, although reassigned on the joystick; two attack buttons – light and heavy – dodge, and block. Now, you have a throwable axe that can come back any time with the press of a button. And don’t worry if you throw your axe; Kratos is quite capable of fighting with his fists. At your disposal, you have Atreus, your son, who follows you throughout the game. At first, he can’t do much more than drag enemies’ attention, but trust me: upgrade his weapons, and he becomes a beast just like his father. There were times I could actually let him handle the entire fight, and I played on Hard mode. He can shoot an opponent with his arrows either by himself or when you press a specific button dedicated to him.

The camera is over-the-sholder now, which gives an entire new perspective on the game (and also made me realise that Kratos really is tall). Your blocking no longer protects you from enemies attacking from behind, meaning you’ll need to stay on the lookout so you won’t get surrounded. Anyway, my only downside is the many RPG mechanics the game has. Nothing against RPG games, they’re some of my favorites, but the fact that a lot of single player games use them now is a bit annoying. I mean, the man who killed Gods shirtless can’t kill a Draugr because the armor isn’t good enough. And Kratos himself doesn’t level up, your level depends entirely on your gear. You do get experience points to unlock new skills, though.

Don’t worry about Boy, he can hold off on his own.

Story

This aspect is one of the most important ones of the franchise. The story was always a highlight on God Of War‘s history. From the suicidal hero who couldn’t forgive himself, to the monster who tore Greece for revenge. This time, however, we don’t have a vengeaful Kratos. He is not seeking any fight, only defending himself. This is a calmer Kratos, trying to accept his role on his past mistakes and move on. Afraid from being affective and getting close to his son. The plot is just as good as the other games, but it also has two other advantages compared to past installments. First, the script is much longer and covers a lot more. Second, the direction is much better. With a camera constantly following what happens, this is the first game to be entirely in one take, at least to my knowledge. There is only one camera throughout the game, putting you much closer to Kratos and the action. A mastermind move from Director Cory Barlog and the technical team who made this camera happen. You’ll be able to notice every action and every nuance from each character’s expressions. Not to mention, the idea to move on to a different mythology was amazing. As much as I love Greek mythology, a different take is interesting, and it sparked my curiosity to know more about Norse mythology now. All the changes to the franchise make sense once you play it.

Different place, different weapon, different story. But the same Kratos.

New Horizons

Despite the narrative focus this game has, the way you go around is quite different. Instead of a linear path leading you throughout the game, you have a beautiful map to explore. And, personally, this is the way to do open-world areas. The map is big enough to explore, and small enough to memorize and travel through it without taking too much time. Many areas can only be accessed after obtaining certain abilities, so the fact the map is easy to memorize really comes in handy. You can also get new gear, skills and learn more about Norse Myths by exploring.

Low Budget?

One thing I don’t consider neither good or bad, but… curious. This game seems to be a bit short on budget, or at least as short as a Triple-A game can be. You’ll notice a lot of repeated enemies (including bosses). Most bosses are Trolls, in fact. And the Valkeryes, who do have some differences between them, but are still quite similar. Those who worked on the game have spoken about cut content as well, which is a bit sad. Regardless, this is a fine example of making a good game with what you have at your disposal, because, repeated enemies or not, God Of War PS4 proves itself to be amazing.

Trolls can be formidable adversaries.

Conclusion

By letting go of the past and trying something new, Santa Monica Studio managed to do what initially seemed impossible; reinvent a franchise without losing its essence. God Of War is at the very least a masterpiece, from the gameplay and story, to the exploration and fighting. The biggest flaw of this game is that it could’ve been longer, although that could be just me wanting to play more. It’s an unique experience which shows that a video game can truly be art.

Like Father, like Son.

Score:

5 Stars

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