“The gods of Olympus have abandoned me.” Ironically, these were the first words we heard in God of War. This series can boast of being on the Olympus of the video game industry since it began its journey 17 years ago When we helped Kratos in his revenge mission to finish off Ares, the god of war from Greek mythology. An action adventure for PlayStation 2 that amazed us with its fantastic mix of combat, puzzles and platforms, its spectacular bosses, the brutality of its executions, its multiple moments and its incredible graphics. From there, the series became synonymous with quality, something that its sequels and prequels made sure to entrench with outstanding games that pushed the consoles on which they were released to the limit of their technical capabilities.
Moreover, we are talking about a series that, in 2018, dared to completely reinvent itself by changing its gameplay, structure, development, setting and even the tone of its narrative. A brave and risky installment that not only ended up becoming one of the best games of the last generation but of the history of the industry in general, making it clear that the Santa Monica Studio series are big words and that, regardless of the Whichever way it takes, it never disappoints.
Now, the journey of the Ghost of Sparta continues with God of War: Ragnarok, a work that promises to put an end to the story of Kratos in Norse mythology and improve on what was seen in the 2018 title. ? An instant classic that, building on the foundation of its predecessor, raises the series to the next level, becoming, of course, its best installment.
An Unforgettable Trip
Three years have passed, and Fimbulwinter, the eternal winter that, according to prophecy, precedes Ragnarok, is already ravaging the Nine Kingdoms. With the end of the world knocking on the doors, a new story begins starring Kratos and Atreus that we are not going to tell you anything else about since it is such a fascinating and well-written journey that we do not want to risk spoiling you or just one of his many surprises.
If the 2018 installment already conquered us with its narrative and its revolutionary use of the sequence shot, here it has gone a step further with a much more exciting plot that brilliantly reinterprets the Norse myths that we thought we knew so well. The script is impeccable and boasts an enviable rhythm that perfectly combines the most intense moments with the most emotional and moving ones. Each step of the journey is a discovery and a new adventure. The dialogues are written with such great taste that it is impossible not to be mesmerized by them, something that is reinforced by the magnificent use of the camera, the direction of scenes and a section dazzling audiovisual capable of transmitting with a simple expression on the face of the characters more than entire games loaded with lines of text.
And it is here, in its characters, where the game stands out and demonstrates a humanity that very few titles have managed to achieve. The evolution of Kratos and Atreus and the relationship between the two is fascinating on many levels, with the boy being the one who has gained the most by uncovering himself as someone much more exciting and valid after a debut in which he did not end up like the majority of players. And beware, since all these praises can also be applied to the rest of the actors, from allies and secondary to the great villains of the show, who are much more than simple enemies that must be defeated. There isn’t a single character that hasn’t been taken care of, or that lacks several layers of depth as soon as we are attentive, which means that all of them and the relationships they have with each other are believable and very interesting.
If at this point, you are wondering if the ending is up to the task and successfully closes the adventures of the Ghost of Sparta in the world of Norse mythology, we are happy to answer with a resounding yes. We are not going to give more details, but at least we liked it a lot, and we believe that it is consistent with the new narrative tone of the series, culminating with great success in the journey of personal growth of its protagonists.
The Most Brutal and Fun Fights
It is focusing now on its gameplay, commenting that we are facing an action adventure that follows closely in the footsteps of its predecessor. The base is the same, and if you have played the 2018 installment, you will feel at home from the moment you take control; since the controls have hardly changed, the combats allow us to put practice the same combos, and its development again alternates battles, puzzles and exploration of scenarios with great success.
However, everything is much better than before, something that is especially noticeable during the confrontations, where we will have new tools to unleash our creativity beyond the use of skills with recharge time, relics and executions when filling the bar of stunning the opponent. In addition to the possibility of infusing our weapons with their corresponding elements to execute new types of blows and punish our rivals with various altered states, we can now also move at full speed around the battlefield using the Swords of Chaos as if they were a hook. . This, added to the fact that Kratos has greater mobility and that he can use heights to fall on enemies with a very powerful attack, makes the fights have won in verticality, variety, agility and dynamism.
In addition, we have more ways to control the terrain; there are multiple elements that we can interact with to use them against our opponents, and we have new types of shields that allow us to focus our defensive strategy on perfect parries or to accumulate blocks, there is a counterattack with the one that interrupts the opponent and destroys their protections, and the enemies are more likely to be sent into the air to make them bounce off the ground and the walls while we lengthen our combos.
Of course, we cannot forget that here the bestiary is much broader and more varied than in the previous game, so there are lots of different creatures with unique characteristics that will require us to learn to deal with them, something that also encourages them to Give yourself more combinations of enemies. And yes, the arenas are so well designed that very different situation that always invites us to use all our combat tools occur through them.
As you can see, fighting is an experience very similar to that seen in God of War 2018, but also much more fun (and bloody, since now we can dismember whoever dares to get in our way, and each weapon has exclusive painful animations for executions), agile, varied and deep, which is not saying little when we are talking about improving something that seemed unbeatable.
The Best Bosses
But the good news does not end here, since to all this paragon of virtues, we have to add many different bosses, thus solving one of the most significant shortcomings of its predecessor. And the best: they are quite a spectacle, both graphic and playable, offering us very intense battles, very different and with multiple phases that have left us unblinking and our mouths open from start to finish. Specifically, the big bosses we will face during the main story are lovely, one of the best in the entire series, with moments that have been burned into our retinas—pure epic.
There are also lots of optional fights and mini-bosses. A reasonable level is maintained with varied enemies capable of making things difficult if we are not careful. In these cases, he is not exempt from falling into the repetition of many of these battles since there are so many that it ends up being inevitable. However, as there is a greater variety of creatures and the conditions under which these confrontations take place to change (for example, putting us to fight against two at the same time or varying some of their attacks), the fun of battling them remains. In addition, there are some very challenging and exciting secret combat mechanics that we have loved.
A Great Adventure Throughout the Nine Kingdoms
Beyond the fighting, we can’t forget that God of War: Ragnarok is, above all, a great adventure, with all that that implies. Yes, the battles are one of the great pillars of the experience, but the puzzles and exploration are also critical in its development. We have been happy to see the high number of puzzles and how well integrated they are with the scenario. None are complicated, but solving them usually involves making ingenious use of our skills and paying close attention to the environment, so facing them always results in something fun, stimulating and satisfying that combines great with the rest of the game—title elements.
Exploration has also gained ground by including several open areas through which we can move freely, performing both main and secondary tasks. Some can even be modified, surprisingly, opening shortcuts and access to previously inaccessible new places. In addition, we cannot forget that many regions we will visit will not be fully explorable at first since, to reach many places, we will instead have to obtain specific tools that are not unlocked until a later point in the story.
Something that should be noted is that in this installment, we will visit the Nine Kingdoms, so the variety of scenarios is much wider. The game is not forced to make us return to the same places repeatedly to extend its duration. That is, each step we take in the story will take us to a new place and even when they make us return to a known location, it will be to take another path that leads to a new area. Thanks to this, the development of the adventure is always fresh and varied, so there is not a single moment that can be considered a filler.
Here we also have to applaud how much secondary content has been worked on, with areas and even entire regions that we will never see if we do not get off the main path. There is a lot to do, see, explore and fight, and most side missions usually provide fascinating details of the story, its characters and its universe, including some other plot that we have loved and that has nothing to envy to what we play in the obligatory parts. Hence, it is a game that always invites us to do everything and continue playing after its credits so that we do not have a secret to discover.
In total, reaching the end is a task that will take you between 25 and 30 hours if you get to the point and don’t stop too long, while if you intend to complete it 100%, the figure quickly rises to 45 hours, which is what It has taken us to the penultimate highest difficulty level, where the challenge is very well balanced.
Updated Progression System
As you can see, it is such a careful game, so well designed and with such great work behind it that it is tough to find faults. However, if we had to mention something that still does not convince us, that would be its progression system, which returns to be based on the acquisition of experience points to unlock skills in a talent tree and improve our equipment.
In the first case, we now have the novelty of mastering a technique we have obtained by using it numerous times. Once we do it, we will be given the possibility of enhancing its effects by choosing between three possible improvements, thus giving us a little more control to define our style of play; however, the increased effects are very little noticeable once we are fighting, so it is far of being a very useful or necessary novelty.
For its part, the equipment has undergone a slight redesign, establishing clearer armour sets and eliminating the rune system of the previous game in favour of an amulet where we can place enchantments to obtain numerous passive benefits. The problem is that it is easy to find a set with which we feel comfortable and never replace it since we can spend the entire game improving it in the blacksmith, which added to the fact that many of them have not finished convincing us Due to the precise nature of the beneficial effects they give us or the attributes they give us, it ends up leading us to accumulate a multitude of armours in our inventory. Unfortunately, this also means that getting gear as a reward for our efforts isn’t quite as satisfying as it should be.
Where it does not fail, as is a tradition in the series, is in its audiovisual section, which is simply overwhelming. The amount of detail the character models have, their incredible animations and facial expressions, their ornate and varied scenarios, the lighting, the effects they put on the screen… Everything is very high, making it one of the most influential games. An unparalleled art direction reinforces it, which does not stop giving us images of incredible beauty with great force. In PlayStation 5, we have two graphic modes to prioritize the resolution in exchange for playing at 30 fps or betting on a dynamic resolution to enjoy it at 60 fps (without a doubt, our favourite option). In both cases, the performance can be improved by activating the high frame rate mode if your television has an HDMI 2.1 input.
The only thing that hints that it’s a game that also releases on PS4 is that it’s riddled with little loading zones camouflaged in the form of narrow gaps or realm travel, something PS5 doesn’t need. They barely last a few seconds, and the characters usually talk in between. Still, it cannot be ignored that there are many and that, although this is far from the norm, sometimes they are a bit annoying when solving a puzzle that requires us to move between a couple of rooms repeatedly.
Finally, the soundtrack is again provided by Bear McCreary, who delights our ears with masterful compositions that behave dynamically and elevate everything we see on screen to a new level, from the most epic combat to the cutscene. More emotional. In addition, the use of music is sublime, becoming one more narrative element with themes that we will soon associate with characters, settings, and situations. The effects are also very varied and sound deafeningly forceful (they gain integers thanks to the console’s 3D audio technology, allowing us to detect their location with incredible precision).
Let’s be clear: God of War: Ragnarok is one of the best video games we’ve ever played. A true masterpiece that delights us from start to finish with an unforgettable story, narrative and characters, more fun and brutal combat than ever, spectacular bosses, an intense, varied and full-of-surprises development, some exciting secondary content and cautious and first-level audiovisual section. And beware, since there are at least two significant novelties that we have loved and cannot tell you about without falling into the spoils, so you will have to trust us when we advise you that it is even better than what we have just told you.
It may no longer have the impact of its predecessor. Still, it is the perfect example that it is not always necessary to reinvent the wheel and that, sometimes, it is enough to polish and improve what already seemed unbeatable to make history again and leave a mark. Indelible in an industry that, with titles like this, reminds us why we keep playing. Simply essential.
We prepared this review with a download code for the PS5 version provided by PlayStation.