This new God of War for the PlayStation 4 is in a word a masterpiece, that does not mean it’s perfect but a seriously great game. To be able to take the rage fueled revenge machine that is Kratos from the original God of War games, and turn him into the multi faceted character that he is in this game Sony Sana-Monica has achieved something truly remarkable.
In this new title Kratos has left the destruction of the Greek Pantheon behind for the Norse realm of Midgard where he is living a peaceful life with his wife Faye and son Atreus. And doing so by hiding the truth of his God-hood as best he can.
The game begins straight from the title screen the first time you boot the game up and if you were to marathon the story from there you may notice that the game will never cut for a single moment. This technique makes God of War incredibly immersive as you are always following the main characters from the very start of their adventure.
God of War begins with Kratos and Atreus collecting wood for Faye’s funeral pyre. The main quest of this game is set off by her final request to have her ashes scattered from the highest peak in the realm. So Kratos does what any good Spartan would do and begins by testing Atreus to see if he has the skills needed to survive the journey. And so begins the games tutorial.
In just this simple tutorial you can see how Kratos has changed, he is genuinely sad over his wife’s death, there seems to no longer be any rage left in him. However he still has his hangups, as seen when he and Atreus have a moment where they can see the far of peak that is their goal and reminisce about Faye, but he is unable to comfort his son.
This is God of War’s crowning achievement, its characters. Kratos and Atreus’ relationship and they way it evolves throughout the story is incredible. Even the other characters that weave in and out of the story are thought out and evolve alongside, and often due to Kratos and Atreus.
What is just as great is that as the story progresses I found that every question I had about this new realm and the people within was answered, and often not in the ways I was expecting. This made the story compelling and its twists and turns difficult to predict. Which I like very much in a story driven game.
As in the Greek mythology driven God of War games, this new Norse mythology based game is woven around Kratos and his family. Some of the twists and turns will be seen well in advance if you have some knowledge of the Norse mythology. So for me some of these didn’t have as great a pay off as they might for someone with no knowledge in this area. However that should not take away from the many twists and turns that this game has that no-one will see coming.
Generally game-play is great as well Kratos’ new weapon the Leviathan Axe, which mimics Thor’s hammer from the Marvel films, feels incredible. The act of throwing it at an enemy and ripping it back into your hand is probably the most satisfying weapon I have ever had the chance to use in a game.
Even with the axe embedded in an enemy or pinning an them to a wall Kratos is by no means powerless. He still has his fists and a shield that can be used to lethal effect and there are even some brutal execute animations that show just how powerful this God can be. There are other weapons in the game that Kratos can use but they are spoilers and I wont mention what they are here.
Atreus is always by his Fathers side and becomes very useful in any fight. He uses a bow and various types of arrows to inflict damage and help to stagger the enemies you are fighting with Kratos. All under the guise of being trained by his father.
Here I should mention the voice performances of Christopher Judge ( Teal’c in Stargate SG-1) as Kratos, Sunny Suljic as Atreus, Jeremy Davies as the Stranger, Danielle Bisutti as the Witch in the Woods, and Alastair Duncan as Mimir. All of these actors give superb performances, which only serves to heighten the excellence of God of Wars story and characters.
It is a story you should experience even if only for the relationship between Kratos and Atreus, and by no means do you need to have played the original God of War games. You only need the idea that Kratos killed all of his Pantheon in rage fueled revenge for his first families deaths.
This game should be in any PS4 owners library, it is another in an incredible line up of first party PlayStation games.