+ A perfect refreshing of the franchise that had become stale
+ Beautiful detail in every crevice
- The open world isn’t so open, with limited accessibility
- Incentives for side quests
God of War INFORMATION
Release Date: April 20th, 2018
Developer/Publisher: SIE Santa Monica/ SIE
For some, God of War's formula had grown tiresome by Ascension on the PS3. It was more of the same and even with the solid gameplay it needed an influx of fresh ideas to keep players interested. Enter God of War for the PS4, which despite a slow start, takes the series and expands the world, the story, the characters and the gameplay to a new pinnacle, all while retaining what makes the series great.
Story - God of War Review
In previous God of War entries, the story, while interestingly rooted in mythology, have been simple stories of revenge. Character development is limited to a back story and an angry motivation. While told well it only touched on one emotion; anger. It wasn't until this new tale that Kratos has been fully fleshed out and made to seem more human. The reason for this is that Kratos has a family, and in particular a young son, Atreus, who is just now being exposed to this fantastical world. Kratos has started anew, and his family and his secrets completely humanize him beyond his previous revenge obsessed characterization. This aspect immediately adds more emotional weight to every encounter, especially against bosses.
However, it's not just the new, more emotional and intricate plot, it is the storytelling that makes it so compelling. Now, to be fair, neither God of War's plot nor storytelling are breaking new ground for video games, but it is by far the best in the series and certainly near the top on the PS4. It's such an improvement over the previous games that it stands out even more. Again, it lends much more significance to encounters, especially those of Atreus, which is essentially who Kratos is fighting for.
Technical - God of War Review
God of War is beautiful and one of the best looking games on the PS4. The detail, especially in the shadowing and textures that encompass every step of journey are the reason why this trek is so epic. Emerging from a small stream to the mostly open water with a giant sea creature and derelict but still beautiful giant statues glistening from their gold motif is awe inspiring. It is exactly what you'd expect from this mythological setting and still manages to impress. Character models, specifically the beastly bosses that can be massive, furry and slathering are most impressive. It all comes back to the gorgeous environments however, that really separates God of War on the platform.
Music - God of War Review
God of War's orchestral score is epic and grand but I found myself missing the common theme of the previous games. Granted, this entry has a different tone altogether compared to the others but there are plenty of homages and I had hoped this theme would be one of them. Luckily the disappointment didn't last because of the score's quality, but it didn't beat itself into my head either.
Gameplay - God of War Review
The fighting mechanics for 3D games, especially on the PS2, were in a rut before the first God of War, and the series was always at the precipice of the genre in that sense. By the time Ascension on the PS3 made its debut, the gameplay was still strong, albeit stale. It hadn't evolved at the rate you'd expect or hope. It was still a fantastic system to be emulating, but it had been done five times before. God of War on PS4 completely remedies that issue. The heart of the battle system is still there but it's become much more technical. It's the Dark Souls version of the previous iterations, although not nearly as difficult. Many of the technical aspects of the combat come in the form of enemy types and the versatility in Kratos' attacks.
The axe's ability to be thrown, the arrow support from Atreus, the myriad of different special attack types, and the elemental component all create varied encounters. There are still many moments of button-mashing, but not in any negative connotation. Kratos can simply overpower many opponents, he is the God of War after all.
Quick time events do make an appearance, but they are relatively minimal and rarely happen more than once in a row, all but impossible to screw up. Getting an enemy to that point is the name of the game, not your ability to do a quick time event and it still is used effectively as a cinematic tool, an absolutely great way to finish an enemy.
Puzzles still make up a majority of the non-combat, and they haven't really changed. Using the axe to freeze mechanisms,, elements and Atreus' arrow types all play a part. These are also relatively easy and short, break up the combat bit still provide a sense of accomplishment.
God of War, unlike its predecessors is "open world" but that access is very limited to start. In that sense I didn't feel encouraged to get off the beaten path. Fortunately these side quests are fulfilling and never seem like fetch quests or filler. The experience and upgrades gained are worth the trek as upgrading can be rather slow if only focusing on the campaign. The abilities afforded are definitely worth some straying from the primary path, even if that path isn’t easily accessible.
God of War Review Roundup
God of War on the PS4 was the much needed reinvigoration that the series needed. The series was never dead, but it was stale. It is a beautiful game that keeps the epic nature of the series without having to top itself, but instead makes subtle changes to the gameplay, has a semi-open world and finally has a worthwhile story that makes Kratos a less one-dimensional character. There are several things that bring down the experience slightly the biggest being a limited open world with side quests that sometimes feels out of the way instead of a natural branching path, but overall God of War is an accomplishment.