After more than a decade removed from the last God of War game, Kratos is back, but he’s not the same bloodthirsty death machine he used to be. Instead, he’s become a sensitive father-figure that wants nothing more than to protect his son and be a positive role-model. If you’re an old-school hardcore God of War fan just wanting to play for the nostalgia, then this might infuriate you at first. However, the game’s story plays out so well that you’ll be hooked by the end of it.
The game is set in a brand new world inspired by Norse mythology which stars our old friend, Kratos. The focus is kept on the Norse mythology, the Greek gods, and legends that were important in establishing the previous games as well. However, as the times have changed, so has the game. It retains most of the elements were loved about the previous games, but it also ventures off towards the open-world, RPG side of things.
Some might question the changes, using the argument that “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”, However, growth and evolution are needed in order to keep content fresh and exciting, especially in video games. Otherwise, people eventually grow tired and the game doesn’t do as well as the developers would hope. Sometimes change can be bad too, but in this case, it was a welcome one as it opens up new routes the game developers can take if they decide to make another one.
The game focuses heavily on Kratos and his young son, Atreus. The game also shows that although Kratos seems to be a changed man, he does have some of his old killer instincts still in him. Kratos also carries a huge burden upon himself because of his past, and the story revolves around how the once killing machine now forms a strong relationship with his son which helps Kratos overcome his grief.
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However, the game is not just about the growth of Kratos, throughout the story, we see the development of Atreus too, how he’s given guidance from his father and how things could’ve been much different if it weren’t for his father. Although reading this might make it seem that Kratos and Atreus are very close, that’s not at all the case when the game started. Think of it as Joel and Ellie during the beginning phases of The Last of Us.
The plot of the game is really simple, as is the start of the game. The game begins with Kratos and Atreus being nothing more than being acquaintances, both having to be together due to an obligation rather than choice. Kratos is mourning the loss of his wife and both father and son set out on a journey to fulfill her last wishes. Atreus always loved and bonded with his mother more, therefore, he has little or no connection with his father. However, that soon changes as the story unfolds. The plot is very simple, but the actors, music, and the way everything unfolds makes you want to keep coming back for more.
Of course, as with every game that sets you up on a journey, the destination may be close but the path is never going to be easy. This is true in God of War 4 too as the obstacles and everything makes it an action-packed, thrilling 25 hours of gameplay for you to play.
The gameplay is great. Like the previous God of War games, this one delivers as well as it looks absolutely beautiful. It’s perhaps one of the best looking games to be released in 2018 so far. Everything in the game, from characters to the environment around you is made beautifully with attention given to every little detail. If you’re not convinced, look at Kratos and you’ll be able to tell that a lot of time went into designing this character.
The visuals change the environment and climate around you which is nothing short of impressive. The land you’ll be traveling has many different areas that are available to explore including a huge lake that can be explored using a canoe. You can then trigger optional puzzles, or fight enemies by exploring new areas. Even if you don’t want to explore, you’ll still get a glimpse of almost all these places as the story takes you through them one at a time.
Even though one might think that the premise of the story doesn’t make sense, a guy like Kratos, with all his experience from the past shouldn’t have any trouble traveling to the highest peak to fulfill his wife’s wishes. However, even Kratos isn’t all-knowing as you eventually find out, neither is the boy you take with you useless.
In fact, Atreus plays a key role in the story. From deciphering languages to telling his father know how to fight certain enemies to actually helping fight some enemies by shooting arrows or choking some enemies, the boy plays a key role in the game. The best thing about the game is how the relationship between Kratos and Atreus develops. Kratos initially disapproves of Atreus, who doesn’t seem to have the same fighting prowess or thirst as himself, however, he does love his son as he will beat the life out of anyone looking to hurt Atreus.
What’s painful to watch is how they show Kratos’ dilemma, it’s perfectly executed. Kratos wants to teach his son how to fend for himself but is also afraid that he might also turn into the monster he once was. Some of the dialogue in the game shared between father and son is surprisingly very realistic. A lot of the things they say are relatable which makes the game even better as you’re able to buy in on what’s going down. Not all games capture the father-son dynamic, as well as this one does.
The combat, abilities, new camera angles, everything works smoothly. There is a new feature that lets you magically pull your weapon towards you (like Thor does), something which always looks cool no matter how many times you do it. There’s an entire Skill-Tree for you to explore as you can expand your moveset by acquiring experience and skill points and use them to expand your skill tree. The combat is great but it gets even better as you progress through the game and start to learn more and more new things. The difficulty of enemies also starts to gradually increase but if you’re good at dodging attacks (are you a Dark Souls player), then it shouldn’t be that big of a problem.
Although Atreus can’t be upgraded that much as Kratos, you can still do a lot with him to make him better. You can add different types of magic to Atreus’ arrows and make him summon different animals that go after enemies. Moreover, there is an endgame too as there’s still a lot left to do once the game ends. Even though the game isn’t set in a massive open-world setting, it still has a lot of secrets for you to discover, enough to keep you hooked even after completing the story.
Overall, the game delivers on all ends, action, graphics, music, and story. The story’s pacing is on-point and the music elevates every good scene to a great scene. The music plays a large role in making this game work. The game deserves all the praise it’s getting as it’s no longer the game it once used to be, it’s so much more now which has left fans excited for things to come.