'God of War' quick review: All things bright and brutal

 

Took me awhile to think of a title suitable for this review. After 12 hours of playing the latest installment of God of War, it’s tough putting into words how I feel about this game. One thing is for sure however, I can definitely conclude that this doesn’t seem like the God of War we’ve come to know and love in the past - but it’s all for good reasons.

All things bright and beautiful

PSEUDO-OPEN WORLD. The structure of the game is a lot less linear than previous games, allowing for more freedom in exploring beautiful locales such as the 'Lake of Light' featured here.

PSEUDO-OPEN WORLD. The structure of the game is a lot less linear than previous games, allowing for more freedom in exploring beautiful locales such as the 'Lake of Light' featured here.

Let’s start off with how the game looks. When the game was first announced back in E3 2016, the first thing I noticed was how different the game’s environment and atmosphere felt. What was once a series that felt dark and dreary, is now one that opens you up to some of the most wonderful sights and arenas I’ve seen in the past few years.

Lush greenery, brightly colored and sparkling skies, stunning mountain top views – this was not what I expected when I explored God of War, and yet I loved fighting baddies against such gorgeous backdrops.

And yes, you do get to explore a little bit more in God of War. Traverse different lands and fight a variety of enemies that give the game’s world more layers and depth. While not a fully open world game, there’s still quite a lot of spaces to venture into for a God of War game.  And the rewards of doing so are quite worth it. There were plenty of moments where I just wanted to pause the violence for a bit to venture into the unknown – and occasionally be met with even more violence.

Dad of War

Joining Kratos on his quest is his son, Atreus. We can consider his introduction as a catalyst to Kratos’ shift. However, make no mistake. This is still the same, brutal Kratos we’ve met in the past. Only this time he’s obviously a little more mature and slow to anger – well, as slow to anger as you’d expect from a god of war.

It’s also fascinating to witness the dynamic between Atreus and Kratos. Their interactions and conversations are a highlight of this game. The one thing I can tell you without spoiling the story is that both characters are essential to each other’s growth, justifying the arrival of Atreus in Kratos’ life and vice versa.

As for the entire story itself, well, from the 12 hours that I’ve gone through, you ought to prepare yourself for a slow and steady build up, with more questions than answers at first. The start of the game will make a strong impact, and it’ll be sustained by the way your journey unfolds. It’s compelling and it will keep you curious, whether or not you’re into Norse Mythology.

You should also keep in mind that if the previous God of War games would take 10-15 hours to finish, Santa Monica Studios mentioned that this game would take roughly 35 hours to complete.

All things big and brutal

NORDIC TRACK. A different set of creatures and gods await Kratos as he steps into Norse mythology

NORDIC TRACK.

A different set of creatures and gods await Kratos as he steps into Norse mythology

But is it still violent? Yes. It absolutely is. Despite the arrival of a child, God of War remains to be as brutal and as bloody as we all know it to be. It’s not consistently over-the-top violence and that’s a good thing, because it  does have special moments in the game that will either make you turn away from the screen or keep watching in fascination.

Keep in mind though that the gameplay is vastly different, owing to the change of perspectives and the developer’s decision to stick with one weapon, the Leviathan Axe. Combat is just a little more complex now with the inclusion of a couple of fancy tricks from the Leviathan. You can, for example, hurl the axe onto a target and call it back to you right after, hitting whatever it goes through.

The best part about the combat though is that you can almost feel the impact of each hit and each bash. And if you get to stun the enemy and press the appropriate button, you get to witness a brutal takedown worthy of a Mortal Kombat fatality screen.

Another note to make is Atreus as a battle companion. I’d venture to say that Atreus is one of the most useful companions in a video game ever. While not perfect and sometimes prone to making mistakes, Atreus usually knows what to do in certain situations. And if you level him up appropriately he makes a significant impact in the fight, without needing your protection at all.

You do have some semblance of control over him. You can tell him which enemy to target with his arrows. You can command him to make summons. Atreus also has a handful of utilities that will aid you in your exploration. He even warns you of incoming attacks which is great if you’re overwhelmed by enemies.

Still the same at its very core

As I wrap up my first 12 hours of the game, it’s obvious that there’s much more to unpack in God of War and I welcome it. There’s a chance that all the changes in this game would cause polarizing opinions, especially for purists of the game. But I’d say give it a shot as even though it looks and feels like a completely different game, God of War’s signature violence, intriguing hero, and epic battles remain.

If anything, these restructures and refinements might even give God of War another set of reasons to keep you playing and compel you to explore the land, the lad, and the lore of the game. – Rappler.com