As the great Michael Huber stated during the reveal, “Kratos with an axe!”
God of War (2018) was the beginning of a new era with the series, Kratos is a father again sure, but all in a new world that the player is unfamiliar with. The game takes place in Norse mythology, compared to the series being in Greek mythology for the majority of the series. This change gives some needed change of scenery within the series. You have forest-like areas to visit compared to town based areas in the series’ past. And many other areas I’ll get into!
However, to complement this change is not just the camera view, you now have one of the best implemented weapons in games, The Leviathan Axe. You feel the heaviness of the axe each time you throw it at an enemy and smash through them. As you progress, you have access to various handles for the axe to upgrade different areas of its' stats, or you may attach a handle that will imbue your axe with electricity or extra frost damage.
Another great way to use the Leviathan Axe is using it through range against your enemies, not only as a wrecking ball. You are able to stun enemies by throwing your axe at them and giving a bit of damage in that regard. You have Runic attacks that may help in this ranged regard as well. The Runic attacks are either Light or Heavy attacks that you use to get out of sticky situations, or increase your chances of winning. These can hit your enemies with crushing blows, or one that gives enemies extra frost damage within a certain area.
Another way to fight is Spartan Rage, activated by pressing L3 and R3. An unbreakable fist of fury of attacks that Kratos gives to enemies. If you’re in a bad situation with your health, this is a great way to regain health or give you a better chance at defeating enemies for that limited time.
The base enemies aren’t too varied. You fight draugrs, trolls, rock monsters, and other various enemies. However, the elemental types do help in this regard, as you’ll need to find new ways to fight some of them.
A big part of enemies in the God of War series is the boss fights! Early on, the game tasks you with fighting a Stranger, who eventually reveals himself as Baldur, Thor’s brother, who doesn’t feel anything. A very formidable challenge for Kratos. A great opening boss fight!
Other great boss fights are the Valkyries! Each of them keeps you on your toes and makes sure you’ve learned the games’ combat systems. Once you defeat eight Valkyries, you are tasked by beating the Valkyrie Queen, Sigrun. One of the most legendary boss fights in the entire series, because of how hellish this fight can be for people. Before I mention a way to help in these fights, I should mention the story!
The game opens up by cutting down a tree with Kratos’s dead wife’s hand print so that he has wood to burn her ashes. The prior games would let you know how significant this is, but not in this game! The protection hiding the house is gone! Forcing Kratos’ hands of Faye’s wish, to go on this journey of taking her ashes to the highest peak in all the realms. Even if he feels that he, nor their son, Atreus, is ready for that journey.
Kratos was a father at one point, sure, but Kratos is a changed man. He’s more restrained in his words and actions. Most notably when you are chasing a deer with Atreus. When Atreus is happy for getting the deer with an arrow the first time, Kratos encourages him, but does say to keep after the deer, so Atreus doesn’t lose it. After catching up, Atreus is tasked with killing the deer, but Atreus can’t do it. Kratos helps, but still does have Atreus kill the deer with his own hands. Overlooking the mountains, Kratos reaches to put his hand on Atreus’s back, but hesitates and puts it back against himself. Character storytelling at its finest!
Speaking of Atreus, back to combat! Atreus gets skills just like Kratos that you get to upgrade. All to power up the bow and the arrow amount. The implementation with Atreus in combat is well done as it can be, as it’s just linked to one button, so it’s easy to integrate that into the combat. Atreus does not have a health bar that you need to worry about, but some enemies grab onto him during combat that you must attack, giving the combat stakes in that regard.
God of War’s world is varied and fantastic to look at. In the first portion of the game, you’re in a forest/old ruins-like area. You then meet a witch named Freya. Freya’s house and that subsequent area is filled with colorful plants and lush trees. Something you rarely saw in previous God of War games! A few hours later, you journey to find a chisel from a Giant. This area is a snowy winter area, which is completely different from Freya’s house. You travel to different realms too, like Helheim and Alfheim, adding to the variety of the sights.
While this is a new chapter within the God of War series, the game doesn’t forget its past. Kratos has visions of Athena and Zeus. All after you acquire the Blades of Chaos to save Atreus from sickness, as your Leviathan Axe won’t work in Helheim. The moment is impactful and pure perfection of tension. It exemplifies how heavy this moment is for Kratos to try and push away his past, but always keeps coming back.
God of War (2018) is one of my favorite games. The combat is impactful and adds a lot of layers. The story is amazing at saying things without overtly saying it, and I love the areas of this game, so good to look at! Before I end, the music, Brok, Sindri, and Mimir are awesome.
And let us not forget how great the reveal was at E3 2016 just by showing music. E3 2016 God of War Orchestra Reveal
Love & Respect!