Now let’s get one thing completely clear before we start – I’ve NEVER played a God of War game before Santa Monica Studio’s latest release. I’ve had a turbulent relationship with Hack-N-Slash games previously. I’ve found them to be too needy… they’re all like “go Hack this”, and “time to Slash this”, and “don’t forget to N this” – it’s all too much of an attack on the senses. So, when I tried out this 2018 instalment, I had little to go on in terms of story and gameplay – I was flung straight into it and, lo and behold, here I am, several months later, loving it and writing this bite-sized review. Here goes!
The story focuses on the bond between Kratos, the ancient Greek God of war and strength, and his son Atreus as they are both pitted against all manner of monsters, Gods, and creatures from Norse mythology – watching the two of them grow together as characters is infinitely rewarding. Alongside the story, the realms are packed with other activities and quests, as you travel the world by the conventional ‘leg’ and one of the many longboats that conveniently populate Midgard. Together with the game’s stunning graphics, the fantastical settings of the nine realms certainly evoke the ancient feel of Norse mythology – that raw, earthy quality which always seems to go hand-in-hand with Scandinavian folklore.
While God of War isn’t technically another huge-open-world title, other areas of the Midgard hub are opened up as the story progresses – the world is always changing, increasing your desire to discover more. However, it is the immersive gameplay which makes the game truly exceptional. The puzzle areas are intuitive and, while finally cracking them feels great, they perfectly complement the fast-paced action sequences and fierce combat encounters.
And what a combat system this game has! The Leviathan Axe serves as your trusty primary weapon, which can be utilised as classic close-quarters, or launched and summoned back from a ranged stance (personally I could throw it and have it return all day and never tire of that satisfying rumble of the controller as it hurtles back to you). The variety of enemies you go up against offers an unlimited combination of combat scenarios, so you are never short of new things to slice through.
All in all, a great introduction to the series for me. I’d best get back to it though. BOY!