God of War | REVIEW | PlayStation 4

God of War is back, and we join Kratos for another adventure, this time on the PS4, and this time it’s wildly different than before. Is the change a good thing or is this one of those times where it shouldn’t have been altered? Let’s find out.

From the beginning of the game, God of War embarks you on a massive journey with a simple premise in mind – reach the top of a mountain to spread your wife’s ashes. However, unlike previous entries in the series, you won’t be doing this one along. Enter Atreus, your son, who will accompany you for the entire journey.  The game sets the tone early and you’ll see that you’re about to experience a long adventure that focuses on building a bond between these two characters.

You’ll be introduced early on the primary villain, and while he may not look that threatening, you’ll quickly see that you’re going to partake in some intense battles in the game. Unlike previous titles of the franchise, this new entry isn’t quite as simple in terms of the battle system. God of War was always considered as a hack and slash game where button-mashing could pretty much win the game for you. That’s not the case anymore, and there’s some definite influence from titles like Dark Souls that comes into play here. You’ll still have your brutal melee attacks, and quick axe throws and hacking away at enemies, but you can also parry enemy attacks and perform a variety of dodges and maneuvers that’ll enhance the overall battles.

As the game progresses, you’ll meet the dwarves who will help you on your journey. These brothers add a dash of comic to the game, but they still manage to keep it serious, and they have their own issues to work out and become somewhat of a part to the story.  Destroying enemies will earn you experience points, and you’ll also acquire Hacksilver, the in-game currency.  You can use funds to upgrade weapons along with special items you’ll earn in the adventure. Experience points can be spent on the skill trees that exist for different armors, your weapon, and to unlock new and powerful moves. It’s well-paced and you’ll never really feel too overpowered to the point that the game loses its challenge and becomes boring. In fact, sometimes you’ll find yourself wanting to grind for a little extra experience just to make some battles a tad bit easier.

The story also unfolds at a great pace, but there’s a lot you might miss if you’re not paying attention. While talking with the dwarven brothers, or even just the conversation’s that take place in your boat, you’ll learn about Kratos’ history, his relationship with his wife and son, and more about the primary antagonist of the game. These ‘short stories’ add some of the best dialogue in the game and they’re definitely worth your time. New characters are introduced regularly and add to the overall plot and while some feel like they weren’t totally necessary, the little bit of content they added was pure enjoyment.

Emotions run high in the adventure, from sadness to hatred. Atreus’ character is wonderfully done, and you’ll feel sorrow, happiness, and at some point, you’ll want to strangle that little bastard.  That’s a mark of great storytelling and character development.  God of War exceeds at building relationships and bonds with its characters and they’ll stay with you even after you’ve completed the game. This extends beyond the two main characters as well, and it’ll include the antagonist along with a few other folks you’ll meet on the way but let’s not spoil anything major.

Visually, God of War is a masterpiece. If you’re playing it in 4K with HDR support and on the PS4 Pro then the game looks absolutely remarkable. Crisp textures, long draw distances, and an enormous coat of polish on top of it all. From the snowy capped mountains to the fiery depths, or the foggy lake, God of War never fails to impress you with its sheer beauty.  Characters are well-detailed, along with the enemies. From start to finish, this is truly one very beautiful game.

Beyond the main game, there’s also a fair bit of post-game content for players to extend their game. This is where the real challenges come in. You’ll need to collect some cipher pieces to visit another realm that offers various challenges for Kratos.   Then there’s also the Valkyries, who are the strongest bosses in the game. These gals are scattered throughout the world and you’ll be able to access then after finishing the main story.  If you’re aiming to get the platinum trophy, you’re going to need to up your game to defeat these ladies because they’re fast, powerful, and deadly with both ranged and close-up attacks.

When it’s all said and done, God of War is a breath of fresh air to the series. Sony really surprised me with this one as it really wasn’t what I was expecting, but in fact it was so much more. I haven’t enjoyed a game even remotely this much since I played Horizon Zero Dawn, and this was leaps and bounds better than that. God of War is outstanding from the moment you start until the credits roll, and it doesn’t end there.


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