The Game Fanatics staff has weighed in on God of War and we’re excited to tell you how we feel about the game. Tyler Chancey, Johnnie McIntyre and myself have some impressions about the game and we hope you join us down in the comments below for a more in-depth discussion.
“We are not men. We are more than that” -Kratos to Atreus
It’s not often we get to witness an established IP undergo such a radical and revolutionary change as God of War. It’s even less common when it works. And boy does it work in spades.
From the rewarding exploration to the snappy, responsive combat sandwiched between an incredibly emotional narrative, God of War delivers an unforgettable experience that feels endless yet concise. This is the fastest 30-40 hours I have ever put into a game and it’s all thanks to the expertly crafted pacing.
The game ramps up early on and pretty much never really plateaus and encourages players to really soak it all in. Kratos as a character has never been this multi-dimensional, in this game he feels remorse. Incapable of redemption yet he carries on and tries his best to be there for Atreus because he knows it’s the right thing to do. It’s a narrative thread that is felt throughout the game, you don’t want anything bad to happen to Atreus and Kratos really embodies this sense of fatherhood and compassion. The writing is also top-notch. Kratos calls Atreus “boy” for about 90% of the game and as a player it’s almost comical how he continuously uses the word, almost to the point of replacing his actual name with it. Atreus confronts Kratos about this very thing and the writing shines because of it. Kratos has nothing to say after this confrontation. Atreus is right.
Silence in God of War is almost as important as the setting and atmosphere. The moments in which no dialogue is spoken serve as some of the better scenes in the whole game. There’s one moment in particular on a lift on the way to the Witch’s dwelling with Kratos and Atreus that is immensely powerful and all you hear is the crackling of fires and the wooden lift ascending. It’s a long lift ride and you feel every second with Kratos. Every second of panicked uncertainty. Every second of desperation. All captured with no dialogue. These quieter moments, although tense, recall some of the greatest moments from video games of the last few years. Uncharted 4 with Nate and Sam just sitting together once they reached Libertalia. In The Last of Us when Joel and Ellie share a dream-like fleeting moment with a giraffe.
God of War borrows from the best of what video games have offered in the past and molds it into an experience that feels surprisingly fresh and unpredictable. I’m not sure where God of War goes from here but I am emotionally invested now, something I never felt before with the previous entries. –Carlos Ovalle
Back in 2010, I buried Kratos. His last big adventure was so cartoonishly horrendous and violent it turned the character into a caricature of what angry teenage boys believe cool. Being angry all the time, killing anyone that gets in their way, and being highly confrontational with daddy. It didn’t matter how satisfying it was to chop apart monsters and gods if the guy doing the killing was infinitely worse than them. And after your last adventure ends with the entire world falling into chaos with all of the Greek gods dead,I wrote Kratos off as completely irredeemable and left him in the past to rot.
When the new God of War was announced, I was beyond skeptical. From the first trailer to all the gameplay shown, it screamed of a game that didn’t know what it wanted to be. A Frankenstein’s monster of gameplay fads. A third-person narrative-focused action game with an open world, RPG elements, and following the Dad Trend by giving Kratos a kid to interact with. The whole thing felt like Sony was trying to wring more cash out of the property. To get Kratos to appeal to players again, like an old man awkwardly trying to appeal the youth that didn’t fully grasp the language.
The whole thing sounded as appealing as a root canal. Even the gimmick of having him wind up in the world of Norse Mythology came off as quaint and desperate. No matter how many spectacular set pieces or satisfying battles there were to be had, I was already writing off this soft reboot as a lost cause.
Fast-forward to me reaching the credits of the new game and I was eating enough crow to give Odin some awkward glances. God of War not only packs some dazzling boss battles and some of the meatiest combat I’ve experienced in a long time, it is a game that finally put its violent protagonist under the microscope. Crucially examining his deeply ingrained flaws, and allowing him to make amends both personally and through his son, Atreus.
But it doesn’t sacrifice satisfying gameplay to make narrative points. The journey travels at just the right pace, with all the appropriate character beats hitting exactly on queue. Ramping everything up to some of the most exciting set pieces I’ve played this year, and an ending that not only promises future installments, but a father-son dynamic for the ages.
It must also be noted that God of War is a giant middle finger to the game industry’s conventional wisdom. A high-budget single-player only experience with no season pass, DLC, microtransactions, or online functionality, all while fully embracing being a video game at its best. In this current climate, many publishers would call such a venture risky, despite it being what video games have been for decades.
To see God of War dominate through shear quality, heart, and soul alone reminds me of why I love video games, especially how they are still able to surprise me. It’s an early Game of the Year contender hands down. –Tyler Chancey
With about half of God of War under my belt and the game beginning to peak in several ways there is a lot that I can say about this game. I could go on about its strong combat and gameplay mechanics that make the controller feel like an extension of my arm directing controlling Kratos. I could talk about how amazing the visuals are and the scope and scale that have been crafted into the world. It would be easy to have a few paragraphs that discuss the amazing and risky change from a Greek mythology-based world to Norse mythology. The game is so good that any full review can go into depth with any of these things.
What I will say is this: Santa Monica Studios took a character and franchise that was more than a decade old and five games in and made it great again (our President would be proud). They did this by both staying true to the character as well as taking him and the world he resides in to new heights and hard lows. Santa Monica did what so many other franchises and storied gaming characters can’t; continue an old series and give it new life. Kratos’ personality, character and his struggles have been lovingly crafted and homed in this new God of War.
Typically a one-note vengeance machine in his previous outings, Kratos has been transformed into a character that players can empathize with and understand. His exploits to accomplish his goals remain the same, but the reasons behind them are what resonate with us; lost love, family and tackling his own paternal demons while learning to reach out to his son. The game is great because it has done what no other God of War has before it. It gave players a great gameplay experience and a story that truly tells a tale we can all enjoy.
God of War is the game that older franchises need to look at as a shining example of a reboot done right. It kept the canon, went bigger in scope but brought the stakes to a more personal level. It’s not always about saving the entire multiverse from complete and utter destruction. Sometimes it’s simply about grieving and moving on after the death of a loved one. Sometimes it’s about fighting the war within oneself, and Kratos now defines that. –Johnnie McIntyre
That is our thoughts on God of War. Do you agree, disagree, or have thoughts of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below.