After all the hype, God of War has finally arrived and the wait has been completely worth it. The franchise has been around since 2005 and this latest iteration mixes up the typical formula in more ways than one. It brings an incredible story with fantastic gameplay that’s deep and satisfying. All the changes made for this installment pay off in ways that make it stand as one of the best PS4 games out there.
The narrative in God of War is simplistic in the best way possible. You follow Kratos and his son Atreus on a quest to scatter the ashes of Kratos’ wife, who had a closer relationship to Atreus. Themes such as grief and the father/son dynamic are explored perfectly and you’re never beat over the head with them. Other stories with those themes might present them in a tacky way, but those themes are Brough tup in natural ways that don’t feel forced. There’s the occasional bit of funny dialogue and the grief they both feel is felt throughout the roughly 20 hours I spent on the story. The boss battles present not only make sense to the narrative progression, but are satisfying to play and the action always ramps up. In that vain, the antagonists in the game are far from two dimensional characters and you can understand where they’re coming from. There’s a complexity to them and what they bring to Kratos and Atreus’ journey that makes the plot more compelling.
As if an amazing story wasn’t enough, it’s also one of the best looking games on the PS4. There’s so much detail put into every part of God of War and it’s nothing but beautiful. Other than one bit of slow frame rate, the game never broke down or froze on me. It uses every ounce of the PS4’s power and it easily stands beside Horizon: Zero Dawn as one of the most visually impressive games on the platform.
Gameplay wise, it feels like an evolution from the previous God of War games. While it looks similar to the other games, there’s no more combos and you can unlock more moves to do in combat. While in combat and in certain situations, Atreus can be controlled to fire an arrow at enemies or hit environmental objects. To get even more out of gameplay, God of War has an RPG leveling system that lets you unlock skills for Kratos and Atreus. The skills range from new combos for Kratos’ axe to Atreus’ bow and they all offer up new ways to make combat fresh and exciting. To add more effects to Kratos’ axe, you can equip enchantments that have unique abilities that can aid in combat. Once the credits roll, there’s more to do (side quests, trials, etc.), but it’s not exactly an open world game like Horizon or Skyrim. Areas in the game are open, but they aren’t as expansive and full of things to do like other open world games.
To accompany an already excellent game, the score and voice acting are fantastic. Bear McCreary (Outlander, The Walking Dead) does a phenomenal job on the score and it intensifies everything from core emotional moments to action set pieces. Both Christopher Judge (Kratos) Sunny Suljic (Atreus) do incredible jobs in their roles and have great chemistry together. Kid actors in any TV show and movie can be annoying, but Sunny Suljic (Atreus) never gets that way.
God of War is a triumph in more ways than one. Each part of the game (story, gameplay, etc.) all compliment each other and one wouldn’t be right without the other. The story is incredible with even more to do once the credits roll. Gameplay feel familiar, but adds more mechanics to make each battle feel unique. The music and all the performances make the game feel more alive. Overall, God of War easily stands as one of the best games of the current console generation and it might just be my favorite game of all time.