It has been five years since we last saw Kratos make his blood-stained mark on the Gods of Ancient Greece in God of War: Ascension. Among fans, it was rather lackluster, considering the gravity of the original trilogy. Fast forward three years, we had the unforgettable presentation of a new God of War for the PS4 at E3 2016 and its subsequent release, along with enormous expectations and enthusiasm. The reasons for which include the return of Kratos and the end of Ancient Greek mythology and the transition to Norse mythology, a new history and the return of Cory Barlog (God of War 1, 2) as the Creative Director of the game.
Several years after the events of God of War 3, Kratos finds himself settling down in the cold Scandinavian north. In the kingdom of Midgard, He meets and falls in love with a mortal called Faye and has a child named Atreus. For Kratos, concepts such as those of family, paternity, and love, draw from him the forgotten values that he was once unable to see, blinded by hatred. Everything seemed perfect until Faye dies. Kratos suddenly loses his support in the new found effort he has to feel human again. His main concern is the education of little Atreus, who he vows to protect at all costs. The ultimate goal for Kratos and Atreus is that of the last wish of Faye, who just before she takes her last breath asks to scatter her ashes from the highest mountain in the nine realms. Before their journey begins, their plans temporarily overturn after the unexpected appearance of a mysterious visitor. Here is where I stop describing this section of the story because… this will spoil this part and it’s always worth discovering that yourself.
The new God of War won’t start with striking scenes (like a boss fight) like its predecessors. Instead, you experience a nostalgic kick, a move that automatically determines the change in scriptural style. During the game you are witnessing a journey into adulthood and the training of Atreus so that he becomes ready to face the dangers, hardships, and threats that life hides. Kratos appears to be strict, absolute, and bitter about his son. He demands from Atreus iron discipline, respect, and self-control. It quickly makes it clear to Atreus that there is no room for error, selfishness or recklessness. The road to wrath and vengeance has no return. Kratos knows it well and will do everything in his power so that Atreus will not follow that path. He does not want to admit that the sins of the parents will teach the child, Thus, he keeps his divine identity as a seal of secrecy from Atreus.
The first big change you realize is the game world. The game borrows from the semi linear design of Tomb Raider by Crystal Dynamics and Darksiders and assumes a similar open-world/sandbox style. You do not follow a predetermined path until you reach your destination, nor do you see “walls” that trap you and stop you exploring at the time of battle, as was the case before. The world is presented masterfully and well designed and diverse, With an irresistible torque towards detail and realism, grafted with several healthy doses of fiction.
You start in snowy forests with access to abandoned fortresses, entrance into temples of any nature, explore dark caves, mines and tunnels where there’s only dead silence, dungeons in the depths of the earth, climb up steep hillsides, gaze over ponds, waterfalls and lagoons , to end up visiting the realms of Norse mythology. also there is a seamless transition between cut-scenes and gameplay sometimes I didn’t even realize it was a cut-scene. Finally, it is staggering the design and visual changes over the previous games. I stay unequivocally excited and I am more than confident that the same will happen to you.
Movement on the map promotes exploration, allowing for hours of wandering, which is generally enjoyable. There is a typical platforming system that you quickly become familiar with, small boats with which you are floating on water surfaces and a fast travel system (strongly pointing to the first Darksiders serpent holes) to transfer to specific points of interest. Scattered around the world are chests for plenty of looting, plenty of puzzles, collectibles, etc. In the middle of the map is Lake of the Nine. At the center of this lake stands the grand temple of the god Tyr. Inside, the travel room hides the Yggdrasil world tree that unites the nine kingdoms of Norse mythology (Asgard, Midgard, Alfheim, Svartalheim, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Niflheim, Muspelheim, and Helheim). Following true history, you only visit three realms (Jotunheim, Alfheim, Helheim), beyond Midgard of course. Through the end game content, you have the opportunity to find yourself in two other realms (Muspelheim, Niflheim). The rest of the kingdoms (Asgard, Vanaheim, Svartalheim) are inaccessible as Odin has locked the travel runes down (suggesting that there will be future DLC)
My final thoughts on God of War are the game is 10/10 and I highly recommend it from the heavy comedic value of Broc the blacksmith dwarf voiced by Robert Craighead and even down to Kratos having a new voice actor who is Christopher Judge famous for playing Teal’c in Stargate SG-1, even the arduous task of finding all the collectibles in the game I found highly engaging as each one provides you with a slice of history from the mythology of the world, also the little conversations between Atreus and the Broc is hilarious, the best line I heard was Atreus asking how Broc makes weapons from stupid ingredients like the footsteps of a cat and the string of a cloud to which Broc replied “Nunyya” only for Atreus to give a confused answer getting the reply “Nunyya f****** business” this and many other quotes from Broc made visiting the blacksmith one of the best parts of the game for me, the twists and turns the story takes too are amazing and my admiration goes to Sony Santa Monica over the incredible work they have done