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Santa Monica Studio’s mythological action-adventure game God of War was released in April 2018. It’s definitely a departure form the usual kind of games I tend to play.
I have not touched any other installments of God of War, so this will be an interesting change of pace for me. Hopefully, I won’t become immensely confused because I haven’t touched the other games in the franchise.
God Of War follows Greek god, Kratos, and his son as they journey to the highest peak of all nine realms to scatter the ashes of Kratos’ recently deceased wife. On the way, Kratos teaches his son, Atreus, how to fend for himself and help Kratos defeat the various mythological enemies of the game. The acting in the game is well done, especially the gruff voice of Christopher Judge you hear from Kratos, as it fits the strong character so well.
The story introduces you to a lot of different types of creatures, such as trolls, witches, dwarves and tree gods. You interact with these creatures in a variety of ways, such as hunting them, killing them, buying things from them, or doing quests for them. The mythology storyline does, at times, alienate you from the story if you don’t know about mythology or the Greek mythical creatures where the game takes inspiration. This is especially true when you are attempting to solve puzzles to open a door get past a trap.
The gameplay largely consists of you defeating various different types of creatures with your magical axe and literally punching chests open to collect valuables. I was absolutely amazed that you could feel the sheer size of these creatures, such as the World Serpent as it vibrates the controller, as it moves around in the environment. This amazement is probably because I usually don’t play mythological-themed games. You feel so tiny in comparison, but it still feels awesome. It also feels incredible when you’re punching out rocks or smashing your enemies through trees and walls.
The soundtrack in this game is epic. You feel driven to continue the journey, and the fights feel very satisfying with the battle music in the background. It softens and booms at all the right moments in the story. Speaking of sounds, I was impressed with how clever the programming is, in regards to how sound is directed. When you face away from characters that are speaking to you, their voices go down in volume considerably, giving a sense of realism.
I was impressed with the single camera set up of the game. If you aren’t aware, there are no transitions between gameplay or cutscenes. It feels like a smooth flow, and yes, I have stood somewhere for a bit longer than necessary, thinking the cutscene was still going.
There are details I was in awe of, such as the sun shining into the snowy forests, lighting up the immensely detailed foliage and terrain. Branches will fall off when you carry large chunks of tree logs, your footprints are visible in soft terrain, and more. There are a few minor animation issues I had with this game, such as rowing in the water felt like it was gliding like a slider, and the water doesn’t seem to respond to your boat.
Other issues include the unrealistic chain descent animation, where Kratos is mysteriously able to slide down, rather than climb down. The third issue is ragdoll physics when enemies go down but I won’t say much about it. I believe it probably has more to do with the style of the game, rather than poor programming.
The father-son dialogue in God of War is interesting and rather funny at times, but the distant feel of Kratos’s personality diminishes the story. On paper, this game ticks a lot of boxes but I found the gameplay a little repetitive. The audio and the visuals of the game bring you into the story, but the awe of how awesome the game looks diminishes rather rapidly once you get used to it. It feels like the kind of game someone that enjoys fetch quests, crafting, and killing to advance to the next level of enemies would want. The game does well in a lot of corners but fails miserably when it comes to writing the story.
God of War’s mechanics deserve a lot of points, but from a subjective point of view, it wasn’t my cup of tea. The same enemies would return and it became repetitive rather quickly. The game feels like it was more focused on the stylish tricks it could pull off, than the substance of the story. Kratos feels closed off as a character and having Judge’s voice just does not save him. The gameplay feels like it is a rinse and repeat, like it is there to merely slow you down from reaching your obstacle, rather than fleshing out the story. The replay factor is definitely higher than usual, as you are able to complete optional side quests and there is more variety for what to do as compared to the main story.
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