The One Thing: God of War
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That One Thing: God of War Edition
Hello everybody and welcome back to our blog! Today we are starting up a new series that I hope to maintain as time goes on. This series is called "That One Thing" and it is a blog series where I discuss that one thing that I hated and that one thing that I loved about a specific movie, book, game; what have you. Hopefully it is a fun read that entertains you while also opening the possibility of discussions and debates.
So let's start things off today's topic: God of War (2018) which I finally completed to 100% thus earning me the coveted Platinum Trophy. Overall it was probably one of the best Sony games that I have played in a long time and it easily ranks as one of my top three games of this generation. The story line, the characters, the graphics, and dialogue was all top notch. But what was the one thing that I absolutely loved above all else?
That One Thing I Loved
Man, this is a tough one. Like I said, there are so many things about this game that are done very well. The game's graphics for one. It is hands down one of the most beautiful games I have ever played. Each region is teaming with small details and you'll be remiss if you didn't take a moment to admire the world around you. Then you have the game's story line which is a huge difference than previous God of War titles. Instead of being centered around revenge, this game has us on a mission to put a loved one to rest. A welcome change indeed.
However there was something that stood out above all others and that something is Kratos himself. This is a sequel/reboot of the God of War franchise that has very little to do with the original games in terms of structure and gameplay yet does not ever once forget the original games' storyline. Kratos is still Kratos. He is the son of Zeus, killer of the gods, destroyer of Greece, and murderer of hundreds (if not thousands). He he still the rage-filled killing machine we all know and loved...
Yet he's not.
This was the thing that I loved about this God of War. We are no longer dealing with the 2-Dimensional Kratos of gaming past. His is not focused strictly on revenge and murder. Quite the opposite in fact. You see, in this game Kratos just really wants to be left alone. He remarried a woman named Faye and together they had a son named Atreus (otherwise known as "BOY!"). When she passes away, Kratos and Atreus go on a journey to scatter her ashes on "The highest peak of all Midgard". Nothing more, nothing less. There is no secret subplot revolving around Kratos secretly planning to use his wife's ashes to destroy the Norse gods, he isn't raising his sun to be a blood-thirsty killer; he just wants to put his wife to rest.
Of course it is never that easy. Along the journey, Kratos and Atreus get swept up in a mystery that revolves around the wife's mysterious past. Gods and monsters alike start getting in their way resulting in Kratos and Atreus needing to defend themselves in order to make it out alive.
Notice that I said "Defend"? That's correct. For the most part, Kratos wants nothing to do with the world around him. He doesn't want to get involved in anybody's business, he doesn't want to save (or destroy) the world. He just wants to be left alone to raise his son. This already is a huge turnaround from the Kratos of the Playstation 2 era. That Kratos would have no problems slaughtering everyone in his path. In fact, during one of the game's first boss battles, we see Kratos actually RESISTING the urge to beat someone. He takes several punches to the stomach and face without so much a snarl of irritation. It isn't until the stranger shows his true power does Kratos fight back.
That alone would be pretty neat character development on it's own but it gets much deeper than that. For the first time in the franchise's history, we actually play alongside another character. Atreus is (thankfully) an unkillable side character who joins you throughout the entirety of the game and is through him we see the true depth of Kratos as a character. Kratos does not truly know how to be a father. Throughout the course of the game, we see him trying to reach out to his son - whether it be to comfort him after a rough hunt, or teach him the difference between right and wrong - and failing several times at doing so. Kratos is not used to being a father figure and it shows.
On top of this, he is also trying to hide the truth of his past from Atreus. This in itself is HUGE. For the first time we see just how ashamed and guilt-ridden Kratos is from his actions back at Greece. He doesn't regret what he did but he is still haunted by it. He wants to prevent his son from going down the same road. He tries to teach Atreus how to control his temper, to be more empathetic, but at the same time teaching him the follies of trusting others. It's an interesting balance. One that pays off beautifully.
The most emotional scenes come from when Kratos must face his past. Several times in this God of War does Kratos need to remember and reminiscence on who he once was. These are the moments where we see the true pain that Kratos has gone through. Not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well. And the way the game portrays these moments is just perfect. There are scenes that have no dialogue whatsoever. Just music and the sounds of the world around you. Kratos doesn't need to say anything as we all know what he's thinking. We can see the internal struggles, feel his pain, his anger, his guilt. And that is what makes this game stand out above the rest - the evolution of Kratos.
You see, this - to me - is the proper way to reboot a franchise. Change the gameplay, give us a new world with new characters and challenges, but most importantly; allow the main character to grow. He is the same Kratos and yet he isn't. He is still our beloved God of War but there is more to him than just anger and hatred. He's a loving husband, a struggling father, a guilt-ridden soldier, and a teacher. And throughout the game we see him continue to evolve, continue to change, and through that continue to grow as a character.
And that, my readers, was the One Thing I loved the most in God of War (2018).
That One Thing I Hated
Whereas I had a whole list of great things to go through for my Loved list, I found that I did not have to think to far to understand what I hated. The game does many things right and very few things wrong. In fact, the only things I disliked had nothing to do with the main game itself but instead the tasks needed to Platinum (100% complete) the game but there is one task specifically that I just could not stand.
Whenever I purchase a new game for the Playstation 4, I take a moment to research what is needed to 100% the game; to get that preciously and highly sought after Platinum Trophy that signifies a perfect 100% completion of the game's achievements. If there are too many achievements that I find uninteresting or unnecessary (Beat the game on Ultra Mega Supreme Hyper difficulty, kill 10,000 other players online, anything to do with time trials), I ignore the platinum and focus on just playing the game. Any trophies I unlock are just for giggles.
Ah, but if the trophy list seems reasonable, I tend to give platinum a try. This is usually done on open world games as the platinums are pretty straight forward. "Open X portion of the map, collect Y amount of items, kill Z types of enemies, repeat". God of War's trophies seemed to be on the level so I decided that I would work towards getting Platinum.
This itself is not a problem. The majority of the trophies can be easily unlocked as you play. Things like "Explore the world", or "Upgrade Armor" were simple enough. No biggie, no problems. But as you get near the end of the game, you realize that you only found 20 of the 51 ravens you need to kill! On top of that, you are still missing 4 treasures that you never even knew existed! With that knowledge under your belt, you either force yourself to explore the entire world all over again or use a guide.
Using a guide for such things is no problem for this player. Collecting items or hunting missing treasure can be a royal pain; especially considering the lengths developers go to hide these things. Some of the ravens, for example, were so well blended into the background that I had ran past them several times before finally realizing that they were there. It's mildly annoying, yes, but not too difficult once you know where to look. Thank you internet guide makers!
Yet, despite having some guides in front of me, there was still one side mission that irritated me. Well, irritated isn't really the right word. Bored would be more accurate.
You ask me; "Mazer? This is God of War! An adrenaline pumping action rpg! How in Kratos's name do you get bored?"
One word: Niflheim.
God this place bored me to tears...
There is an achievement called "Darkness and Fog" that has Kratos enter the smoke-filled realm of Niflheim. To get this trophy, you must find the center of a maze (super easy as it's literally one room away from the starting point) and open all the treasure chests found within. Oh, and destroy three "rifts" in reality that basically translates into "summon bad guys then kill them.". Doesn't sound too bad now does it?
Here's the kicker. To open these chests, you need to find something called "Mist Echoes" and to close the rifts you need something called "Anchors of Fog". To get these items you must enter the maze and hunt down treasure chests containing these items. But before you can open the chests, you must kill all the enemies in that particular room. And to get to the room you must avoid 1-hit death traps. And finally you need to hurry because you can only tolerate the poisonous fog for so long.
Oh, and did I mention you need to collect around 69,000 of these Mist Echoes? Or did I mention that if you die while in the maze, you lose everything you collected during that particular run through (every time you exit the maze, you "deposit" the Echoes and Anchors).
Yes, there is an item that slows down the poisonous gas effect considerably but that does not negate the fact that you have to traverse through the same 10 rooms over and over again. Some things are randomized (the chests, the traps, and enemies) but it is still the same circle over and over and over and over again.
Originally I played this on the normal difficulty which was how I beat the game but I found that the timer (even with one of the artifacts to slow it down) was still pretty fast meaning I could average about 3-4 rooms before turning back. This meant I was only scoring between 1,500 - 2,000 Echoes per run. Combine this with the fact that the Anchors appear in Boss Chambers (usually mini bosses like Travelers or Ogres) and I was getting bored real fast. I finally decided to switch the game to Easy Mode which meant I could tear through the maze and all of it's rooms in a single go (netting me between 5k-8k worth of materials). By and by, it took me approximately two hours to gather all 69,000 Echoes and 3 Anchors.
Mind you; I am no stranger to grinding in a game. It's actually quite expected in RPGs but that doesn't make it any less boring. For two hours I was literally running in circles killing the same enemies and gathering the same materials. It was dull, it was tedious, and frankly the worse thing this game has to offer. It really is just pointless and to make matters worse, the armor you get for completing this quest NEEDS MORE ECHOES to upgrade it!
I just said "Screw it", took the armor and left. Mission done, trophy gathered, end of story.
And that, my readers, is that One Thing I Hated about God of War (2018).
What about you? What was the one thing you absolutely loved about God of War? What was the one thing you hated? Please let me know in the comments below and we'll see you next time!