I had no idea God of War was going to be good. I had no idea it was going to be incredible. Even just a month or two before release, I still didn’t know what I was in for. See, I played the three main-line God of War games, a tale of Kratos dismembering and disemboweling the entire Greek pantheon across three games. He shouted “Ares!” and “Zeus!” more times than I care to count in a game series filled with some sex minigames that could only say don’t age well if they’d been good to start.
And then God of War did the last thing I expected: it grew up.
I don’t need games to be adult and mature to have fun with them. Look for my write-up on Donut County, a game about a raccoon collecting trash with a trash hole. Silly games can be good! But the God of War series had devolved from edgy to immature in the years since the first game, and a shift toward the mature is exactly what the series needed to live.
God of War takes the Kratos we knew and owns that. The old games don’t go away. Kratos did what he promised at the end of the original trilogy, leaving Sparta and ancient Greece behind, and we find him years later, a father and a widower. Older, wiser, and quieter, but no less dangerous than he’s ever been.
Sony Santa Monica took this new Kratos and built up the world of Norse mythology around him and what we ended up with was a game about parenthood, about what parents owe their children, about the legacies we left behind. Kratos fights gods and monsters to be sure, and Jormungandr’s first appearance is one of the few moments I’ve felt truly small in games – even in previous God of War games. But this game isn’t about Kratos collecting the heads of every member of the Aesir and Vanir. We meet just a couple Norse gods along the way, and none of the ones I would’ve guessed.
The linear action of the previous games was replaced with a carefully curated hub world filled with interesting puzzles and secrets, interesting art, and just enough downtime to get to know your son, Atreus, and to hear some stories about Norse mythology. Combat got slower and heavier, and the Blades of Chaos were replaced by the Leviathan axe. What first appeared to be a stand-in for Mjolnir turned into one of the most satisfying video game weapons of this generation of consoles, and gave me enough fun that I kept playing the game long after the credits rolled.
A month before I played God of War, I didn’t care about it. A few hours after I started playing it, I went and bought a PlayStation 4 Pro. As the post-credits stinger ended, I was wondering when the next game is coming. I’m in love with God of War.
Make sure to check out our original review of God of War from April.
TechnoBuffalo LLC (dba TechnoBuffalo.com) has affiliate partnerships with various companies. These do not at any time have any influence on the editorial content of TechnoBuffalo. TechnoBuffalo LLC may earn a commission from these links.