Read this, boy! – God of War Review

by Sammy Chan
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God of War has been an absolute pleasure to play. This review, unlike every other, is probably late – I can explain! The reason being I decided to play this game on the hardest mode available. I regretted everything. It took me two weeks to achieve 100% completion. But, I also thoroughly enjoy every single moment of it. And I’m glad I took my time with it. Rushing through it just to write a review would not have done this game justice. Now, it’s safe to say that this God of War review will contain spoilers but I will try to be as vague as I can when it comes to detailing the game’s story.
Next, I also want to preface by saying I’ve never played any game in the God of War series. This is my first God of War game. Though, the stories of his god-killing and lady-plowing endeavors are one that even a person with no access to a console to play the series back in the days, have heard of. Other than that and the fact that he’s a Greek god, I’m pretty much clueless about the game’s history.
In this new God of War, you’re obviously playing as Kratos. But, you’re not the raging dude you used to be. After taking down Olympus and slaying every Greek god out there, Kratos finds himself in a new land. He fell in love with a woman from the new land, Faye, and from this union comes a son named Atreus. The game begins with you preparing for the funeral of Faye in the land of Norse mythology. Prior to her death, Faye has requested that Kratos and Atreus scatter her ash from the highest peak in the land and that’s what your journey is all about.

Atreus, boy!

Atreus (Image via Santa Monica Studio)

From a glance, it’s easy to write this game off as a giant escort mission. Essentially, it is. You’re taking care of Atreus as the both of you sets out on this journey together. I must say, Santa Monica got the whole mechanic down to the t. The interaction between Kratos and Atreus is one of the best if not the best I’ve ever witness.  Last of Us had a similar system and that was done pretty well too but God of War takes the cake, in my opinion.
Atreus himself is actually really helpful both in and out of combat. In combat, his arrows help in stunning enemies. Sometimes, he’ll even jump on them, providing you a window to dish out a charged heavy attack. He’s also capable of tripping enemies. As you progress, he learns to do all these better from experience. Having played this game on the hardest mode, I really appreciate his runic attack. It’s usually a key factor in winning a fight when you’re surrounded by numerous enemies.
Outside of combat, he sometimes assists you with puzzles. He can also point out hidden paths and objects. I often find his assistance helpful, especially with things hanging from the ceiling or just generally above me. They tend to go over my head. But then again, he’s also a smartass. He tends to make comments when you fail to handle a certain puzzle mechanic. This doesn’t bother me, not all the time at least. He just complements Kratos really well both in and out of combat.

The father and son dynamic

One of the things I enjoy the most about this game is the growth I see happening before my eyes between these two. The conversation between them as you travel in the realms are my favorite. Let’s just say you’ll have a grand time listening to Kratos trying to tell fable stories to Atreus.
Besides that, the development of their relationship was truly amazing. The way I feel towards Atreus, especially.

Kratos and Atreus (Image via Santa Monica Studio)

You’ll feel proud, angry, frustrated and annoyed even, at your boy. At one point of the game when you tell Atreus the truth (I’ll not get into that), he turns into this big-headed schmuck. I got extremely annoyed with him at this point. It was like he skipped a few years and went straight to becoming an angsty teen. But this is what I meant though, how well the whole game was written to invoke real feelings from the player. I truly felt like I was Kratos, fully immersed in this world and fully invested in my son, Atreus. When you play and reach that point, you’ll feel just like I did. I wanted to just throw him off a cliff. But then you come to the realization – this is just like real parenting. This is what our parents had to go through during our pre-pubescent phase. It was a moment of revelation that was also kind of funny.
I’ve always been a person who gets attached to the character I’m playing. Which is why I had a problem enjoying NieR: Automata since you have to play as three different characters. So, obviously, I was fully attached to Kratos and Atreus, Mimir even. The game has got me so invested in their journey that I truly care to see it through. From the beginning ’til the end, you can see how their relationship went from mentor and mentee to actual father and son. He learns how to be a proper father, how to share and how to show he cares.

The frustratingly satisfying bits

Playing this game on the hardest mode available was complete hell. I pretty much ate one-shots for three meals a day, two weeks straight, no lie. I lost count on how many times I died. Honestly, don’t do this to yourself. I must say, however, it’s extremely satisfying once you manage to win the battle though. It’s insanely hard and feels almost impossible. That was the satisfying bit, overcoming difficult combat.

This particular puzzle makes me wanna cut a b – anana. (Screengrab via God of War)

The frustrating bit goes to the puzzles you have to solve throughout the game. Specifically those from the Alfheim. Some of these are the ones that I end up spending most of my time on. Trying to hit several nodes simultaneously while some spinning thing tries to block it. And if you miss – IT RESETS. The puzzles are sufficiently hard. I say this because even though they were difficult, it’s never to a point where you want to just give up and look up a guide. I never felt like there was a moment I needed to pull up a guide to show me how a certain thing was done. This again, for me, was a plus point. It brings back the old day of gaming where you just have to figure things out because there was no way to watch someone else play the game or refer to how they did it in their own playthrough.

Huge spoiler in this paragraph!

As a myth-geek, it was amazing to see how they took the stories of Norse mythology and put a twist on it. Everything I’ve ever known went straight out the window. We’re not even near the end and I’m sure at this point you know how I’m going to rate this game. In this version of Norse mythology, you’ll find that the usual good guys are actually selfish jerks. Thor, for one, is the highlight of many stories you’ll hear either from Mimir or simply just exploring the world. The backstory of how Odin became the All-Father was a rather gruesome one, too.
I’m gonna go ahead and put the font in the next paragraph as white so it doesn’t spoil anyone. If you want to read it, just highlight it. Anything beyond this point that contains spoilers will be in white font. If you’re reading this in night mode on your phone browser – quickly do a swap if spoilers is a huge thing for you. I warned you!
The new version was cool and all but nothing could have prepared me for the ending reveal. Finding out that Atreus was actually the god of mischief (or would become, rather), really put everything into perspective for me. Like the bit of information about Jörmungandr, the world serpent is from the future. If you didn’t know, Loki is the father of Jörmungandr. It wouldn’t make sense for him to be in the same timeline as Atreus now, would it? It does if you pay attention to what Mimir said. According to him, Thor will fight Jörmungandr during Ragnarok and Thor punches Jörmungandr so hard he was sent back in time. Everything just kind of fell into place. I honestly cannot wait to see what the sequel will bring. I’m eager to jump into this new world Santa Monica Studio has brilliantly crafted. It is so easy to get immersed in this game, especially when there’s pretty much no loading screen. Everything felt like a giant one-take. The way they transition between story and scene is beautifully done.

A little bit on the combat

The combat is this game, sometimes, feels a little stiff. Due to the camera locking you to a certain angle. There’s also the fact that every single boss fight feels easy in comparison to mob battle. I mean, obviously, with more enemies present, you’ll have to work a lot harder in dodging their attacks. At the same time, it left me wondering why they didn’t just make the boss fight harder. I had the most problems with fighting normal enemies. Boss fights were a breeze once you learn their pattern of attack. Thankfully, there’s an indicator on screen that signals you when an attack is coming at you off-camera. They were really helpful in keeping my butt alive. If only all boss fight were as hard as that Valkyrie in Alfheim. Heck, all the Valkyrie fights were way harder than boss fights, I personally feel.
Combat mechanics aside, I truly enjoy the runic attacks in this game. Apart from the ones you learn from the skill tree, runes you pick up on your adventure can be slotted into your weapon. Being able to upgrade and switch them out according to what the battle demands were great. The combat didn’t feel bland at all and was enjoyable. You can also craft armors that let you slightly alter your playstyle by picking which stats you value the most. I personally just went full strength because, you know, immersion. I am the Dad of Boy.

10/10, get this game

And when you do, take your time with it. Don’t try to rush through the story. Do the sidequest, see the world, explore the realms. God of War is truly a masterpiece and every moment you experience on this journey, you’ll take with you even after you put down the controller.
I couldn’t find any problem with this game besides the boss battle being too easy. Even then, that was in comparison to mob battle. Plus that was just a personal experience sort of thing. Maybe in the easier modes, the mobs are easier and the boss harder, who knows. Ultimately, it’s not that big of a gripe that takes away from the game. I still enjoy all the moments I had during my playthrough. On a side note, I think I might have daddy issues now. Thanks for reading my God of War review! Also, I’m avoiding including too many pictures ’cause I don’t want to accidentally spoil something.

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