By Andrew Ayala
“God of War” is Sony’s Santa Monica Studio’s latest and greatest PlayStation exclusive which tells the story of a familiar hero in a new light.
This is the newest addition to the series and follows the infamous protagonist Kratos along with his son Atreus on the biggest journey of their lives. The main purpose of the story is to fulfill his departed wife’s wish of taking her ashes to the highest point in the realm and releasing them.
Despite sounding like a simple cliché task, gamers will soon realize that many twists and turns make the main mission difficult and time-consuming.
Those who are familiar with the series will see that the setting has changed from the usual Greek mythology to a new Norse mythological location. On top of that players will get the feeling that much has changed with Kratos since he is no longer the anger-driven killer that fans are used to.
Now that Kratos is a father it seems as if he is trying to guide and show his son a righteous path as opposed to the violent one he once chose.
One of the biggest shocks is that his newest weapon of choice is the Leviathan Axe and not the Blades of Chaos that fans are familiar with. Along the journey gamers get to see how Kratos must cope with his past, which haunts and torments his mind no matter how far he gets from Sparta and those who defiled him.
Memories serve as nightmares to Kratos and never allow him to keep his guard down or to trust a god even though he is one himself.
Although fans who have played the previous titles will have a deeper understanding towards this new take on the story and Kratos, there is no prior knowledge necessary to gain a deep appreciation for the game.
Thanks to a new chapter he is trying to form in his life, the story doesn’t really carry off directly from one of the previous seven titles.
“God of War” strays far from the usual slash-and-dash style that the series is known for and allows an open-world gaming experience with mechanics that stem back to its original roots of fighting and solving puzzles.
The combat is satisfying and will keep players wanting more combos or devastating finishing moves. There are 4 difficulties to choose from and each affect the approach and playstyle that gamers take to try and complete it.
From beginning to end, the game plays out like a movie since there are no loading screens or long pauses in between unless a cut scene takes place or one dies. Camera settings can even be altered to immersive which allow players to have a very minimal Heads Up Display to give them a different experience.
The graphics and attention to detail Santa Monica Studios put into the game show that it truly is a masterpiece and takes video games back to a time where a good story and fun single-player gameplay is all that is needed. From the tracks left in the snow to the texture of the grass, gamers get a photo-realistic setting that adds to the overall beauty of the game.
The ambience changes as players explore the many realms, which is nice because all depictions of these mythological settings give off different vibes.
Nowadays most companies focus on multiplayer or micro-transactions which allow players to obtain levels or gear that it would take hours of gameplay to reach, but “God of War” doesn’t rely on any of those things and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so refreshing. In order to progress Kratos or Atreus’s skill trees or find better gear, one must be willing to put time and effort into the game.
With a number of favors and labors to complete, players will find themselves fully immersed in a mythological setting with creatures such as giants, elves, dwarves, dragons, trolls and ogres. There are references to gods such as Odin and Thor, along with locations like Asgard and Helheim, mentioned throughout the story.
This along with the few flashes to the past pave a new path for Kratos and Atreus on their long journey through the realms of the Norse. The supporting characters serve a deeper purpose to the story than adding humor or witty remarks and remain relevant. The antagonist and bosses that players fight are impressive and intriguing despite being the bad guys.
The fact that this game is open-world as opposed to the usual mission driven style, shows how innovative and open to new ideas the creators are. Players are not only allowed to customize the gear Kratos and Atreus wear, but are also given the option to choose different moves and skills that will determine how they fight.
There are many different enchantments and runes that can be used to raise levels in traits such as strength or defense, which is nice because not everybody will have their characters looking or playing the same. The save feature is amazing since it is two buttons away as opposed to players having to find a shrine or sleep to save.
The score used in the background adds to the feeling of being in a Norse setting and activate at the perfect moments to keep the momentum up or slow the pace down. The dialogue used between Kratos and Atreus shows a true bond between father and son and keep gamers entertained throughout the story.
It is captivating to see just how deep and realistic the bond between the two characters grows throughout the game. At first they seem to be uncertain of one another but a long quest to fulfill the dream of someone they both loved brings them closer than ever.
Since players are used to only controlling Kratos it is interesting to see puzzles that implement Atreus and his abilities in order to complete them. As gamers explore the realms of the Norse, there are locations that have unsolved puzzles that must be retracted as the player progresses in the story.
This seems a bit tedious but is actually fun since the characters are stronger upon return than when they initially began exploring that area.
“God of War” not only lived up to but possibly even exceeded its hype and expectations since it did receive some of the highest ratings that have been given to any game this year.
Since this game gives players a rich story, full customization, a beautiful setting and a new take on a classic character, make it a definite candidate for receiving many awards. No mention of downloadable content has been made but the game itself has been available since April 20.