Five years after the last game in the series and three years after the remaster of God of War 3 on PS4, Kratos is back with a new adventure, taking on new mythology with new gameplay mechanics… and a son! Find out more about THE best game on PS4 in our God of War review!
Set many years after the events of God of War 3, Kratos is living a quiet life in the realm of Midgard, with his wife and son, Atreus. That is until his wife died, leaving him alone to raise Atreus, with whom he didn’t have that much of a relationship. The two will set out on a mission to bring her ashes to be scattered on the highest mountain of the realms. Even though Kratos only wanted to complete this noble quest, the visit of a mysterious stranger leads him to think that their quest will not be as easy as he thought since the Norse Gods seem to have taken an interest on the stranger that has entered their lands.
Telling more of the story at this point would be getting into spoiler territory, which I will not do, as the game’s story is a strong point that you need to experience. What I can say is that the narrative and story in this game are far more elaborate than anything we have ever seen in past God of War games, which were pretty much all about going on a warpath eliminating all the Gods standing in Kratos’ way.
The gameplay went through a lot of changes too when compared to all those other releases in the past. Gone is the hack and slash game with 100-hits combo that you could do by just mashing the square or triangle buttons over and over again, easily eliminating all your enemies with no difficulty. Instead, the game is now presented from a fixed third-person camera and has you attacking using the right shoulder buttons, similar to what was done in games like Dark Souls or Bloodborne.
And speaking of attacking, Kratos has left his trusted Blades of Chaos in his past life and is now equipped with the Leviathan Axe. This axe has the ability to freeze enemies when it’s thrown at them, which adds a new strategy to the mix. While the axe is away, Kratos will rely on his good ol’ hands to fight off enemies, and this build up a stun meter that, once filled, allows you to activate finishing moves you can pull with the press of the R3 button. At any time, if you want your axe back, it can be recalled with the press of a button, and it comes back at full speed, similar to Thor’s hammer.
You can also count on the help of Atreus during battles, as you can command him to shoot arrows to distract enemies, and he will eventually grow into a better fighter that can even attack enemies. And even if you don’t directly command him (which is done by simply pressing the Square button), he will still shoot some of his arrows here and there to help.
Another thing that’s gone with this new release is the linear path that all the previous games were known for. This new game is more of an open-world experience, with side quests that you can tackle pretty much whenever you want, and there’s a lot to explore away from the main quest path. And when you enter the game’s menus, or when you visit shops, there is so much that can be done to customize how you will evolve through the game.
As for the visuals, to put it simply, this is the best game I’ve seen rendered by a standard PS4 on a 1080p TV, and I’m pretty sure the same thing can be said for those lucky people out there who’ll play it on a PS4 Pro with a 4K TV. Everything, from your characters to the enemies and the cold environment of Midgard is beautiful, and you also meet up with creatures that are bigger than ever, but the beauty of it extends to small details like the animation when you recall your axe, or that incredible one-shot sequence that the game’s director has proudly talken about. This creates an incredible sense of proximity with Kratos and Atreus since you never leave their side, never wait for any loading screens, you just feel as if you were with them. The only times where this one-shot will take a break is if you die or when you get into menus.
Previous God of War games always had epic soundtracks, but this time they found a way to raise the bar even higher. Famous composer Bear McCreary has been in charge of the whole score, and he’s created a masterpiece to listen to. A lot of effort was put into the authenticity of it all, even going to Iceland to have a choir sing in Old Norse to be able to craft something that really fits the universe in which this game is in.
The evolution that Kratos has gone through to arrive in this game is just awesome. The man, who was once the kind of guy that killed on sight in hopes of easing his inner pain, is now grieving over the loss of his wife, but does everything in his power to focus on fulfilling her last wish, all while trying to protect, educate and help his son go through the loss of his mother. The rage that consumed him in the past is still there, and we can feel that he’s doing all he can to not show his son this side of him. There’s also so much detail and effort that was put into recreating the Norse realm, with lots of runes, relics, and stories about the world that you gradually learn while the story plays out, the whole thing feels like a 30 hours movie marathon that never gets boring.
Then there’s the world we’re in! The change from a linear game to an open-world one (although not as open as a game like, say, Horizon Zero Dawn) is a more than welcomed addition. There’s some stuff that you could just go by and miss if you don’t take the time to explore, but believe me, there’s never a moment when it feels boring to go out there. And with so many customization possibilities, you’ll want to find the loot you need for that special armor piece, or to be able to upgrade another one. Speaking of customization, there are so many things you can do for your Kratos/Atreus build, way more than any of the past God of War games, but it never feels overwhelming as the game does an excellent job of introducing all the aspects gradually.
Oh, and for fans of the series that are wondering if there are still epic fights in the Norse realm, fear not, because God of War has not lost its touch and is still full of beasts so gigantic that only Kratos himself can defeat them. Did I mention this game is beautiful? Because Santa Monica Studios has always been claiming the top spot in terms of graphics when they released a new God of War game, and this one is not the exception. They are awesome at what they do, and God of War on PS4 is a visual masterpiece – I can’t wait to see the awesome images players will take once Photo Mode arrives!
As for the trophies, this should be the easiest God of War game to get a Platinum. Gone are the difficulty trophies, which could have been a pain to get as the game can be pretty challenging on higher difficulties. All you have to do is basically play the game and find everything there is to find. While this might seem time-consuming, the game is so good that you’ll eventually get your Platinum without even noticing, as you’ll probably just want to complete all objectives.
Santa Monica Studio have taken their biggest franchise, in fact, one of the biggest franchise of the whole PlayStation brand, completely changed things while keeping the same core character and feel, and produced a game that’s better than all they’ve done in the past. This is not only a must-play title, it’s the best thing you can find on PS4. Now I’m just hoping we won’t have to wait another five years for a sequel!
PSN Game Price: $59.99
This God of War review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy purchased by the reviewer.