God of War is not just a series of video games much loved by many players, it is one of the flagships of the PlayStation brand, and returns after five years of absence, with a really great game, impeccable and forceful in all aspects. A demonstration of a first party title by Sony with which reaffirms their commitment to great blockbusters for their fans, we have seen this in the past with exclusives like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (2016) and Horizon: Zero Dawn (2017).
Sometimes it is not necessary to wait until something is dead or exhausted to revive it, and that is what Santa Monica Studio has done with this new God of War, which redefines the pillars of the series by borrowing some of the current trends from other popular video games, but which in turn connects perfectly with previous deliveries and recovers its greatest virtues, being finally more similar to the first adventures of Kratos than many expected .
The new title has a more elaborate and sophisticated narrative, from the size of the script to the dazzling cinematographic direction, and the combat is more deliberate and strategic, less frenetic than in previous episodes. But once you get on the job you discover that the mix of action, exploration and show is quite similar to the first two installments, and any fan will feel at home, as well as satisfy any newcomer in the series.
While the mix of ingredients is familiar, the ambition is unparalleled within the series, with a much larger adventure than anyone expected, which can take about 25 hours to overcome, and close to 40 if you want to complete it everything, since it has many secondary objectives to make you wander in its fascinating world, one of the most beautiful that we have visited in recent years.
This obviously charges a price, and its development is not as intense or as fast as in previous deliveries, more condensed. But being a bigger game than usual, in addition to satisfy us with more hours of entertainment, takes advantage to build the characters very well and develop in a surprisingly rich and meticulous way the new mythology , really interesting, and with a lot of potential for face to the possible future deliveries, that we are sure that they will arrive seen the superb result of this game.
The return of Kratos
After devastating the Greek Olympus in a thirst for revenge that seemed never to be able to appease, Kratos finishes in Nordic mythology, in Midgard, the world of men that was created by the gods. Without many more explanations, in a story that defies your answers and surprises very well, we embark on a journey with Kratos and his son Atreus, a character totally protagonist in both the narrative and the playable, which is not a mere comparison. The relationship between father and son is really well written, and its interesting evolution throughout the game is the epicentre of the story, maintaining the usual intrigues and conflicts with gods and other creatures, as well as those epic moments that leave your jaw open…
And evidently so that you enjoy it as we have done, we will not give a single detail of a story that has more weight than ever, but that said the God of War formula is not changed to The Last of Us, as some feared after its presentation in the E3 of 2016. Despite its great length and have a much more elaborate narrative, the story flows with great rhythm , the cinematics are never too long, and we are facing a terribly entertaining game, with a perfect mix of combat, exploration, puzzles and history, everything in its proper measure, something that is not easy to achieve.
The new camera that follows the action, now attached to the back of Kratos, makes it completely changes the playable approach, now with a few more deliberate and strategic combats, which invite you to think more about each action and to observe the environment and the enemies with attention instead of pressing the buttons frantically as in a traditional hack and slash.
With the attacks located on the top buttons R1 and R2, it is inevitable to mention the influence of FromSoftware, which has reached so many games in recent years, but based on this scheme the fight of God of War has its own personality and is growing and evolving throughout the game in a very satisfactory way, that end up being much more complete, and intense and spectacular than it may seem at first.
The Leviathan axe is one of its great novelties, a weapon that behaves like the hammer of Thor, that we can throw and returns to our hands when we wish it, which contributes a lot to the game both in the combats and in the exploration and the puzzles, some riddles that are simple but quite abundant.
Its progression system, very complete and more typical of an RPG – in a new demonstration that the role elements are already everywhere – gets the combat to grow constantly, adding new layers. You acquire new moves and abilities, both for Kratos and Atreus, improve weapons and armor, both their stats and their properties to adapt their virtues to your game style, and you get all kinds of special attacks and magical powers, which do not stop increasing the possibilities in the fighting, at the same rate as the threats you face grow.
But the combat is not only quite complete, but also surprisingly versatile, as it allows you to play in different ways, such as consciously exploiting the melee with fists, shield and parrys, or opting more for long distance and throws of the axe. You can create different configurations, more defensive or offensive, thanks to the complex system of runes that we can equip weapons and armour.
In short, the combat system is really satisfying and fun, complex enough to perfectly endure such a long adventure without symptoms of exhaustion, and controls respond perfectly, something required in a large production like this, but never we must take it for granted and we should always praise.
This is helped by the great variety -and design- of the enemies, although we have missed some more final boss (there are too many “medium-sized bosses”, like trolls or golems), of those epic and gigantic ones that we used to see in previous titles, one of the few aspects in which a fan may feel disappointed regarding previous deliveries . If you want to know a little more in detail everything related to combat, you can read our final impressions where we delve deeper into it.
But what we liked most about this new God of War is how well it mixes its different elements ; never abuses the combats, nor do you miss them, there are exploration and puzzles, but these parts are never complex or prolonged enough to slow down the pace of the adventure, and the story has a lot of weight, both that of Kratos himself and Atreus as the new universe in Norse mythology, but never exceed the duration of the cinematics, and most of the story is told agilely through dialogues and other resources while you are exploring.
This makes it an entertaining game, and surprisingly generous in terms of content. Both for the duration of the main story, as for the multitude of secondary objectives, from large missions to all kinds of collectibles, and even fearsome final bosses that should be addressed in the endgame, once you have passed the game, which has somehow many surprises
You will want to see everything that the game contains, because even some of these secondary missions take you to scenarios that you would not otherwise see, and the world they have created is fascinating, both technically and artistically. There is free exploration and certain doses of backtracking , places to which you must return when you have the right skill, and the structure of the game has reminded us a lot of the latest Tomb Raider , a good reference for you to get an idea of how to mix a linear and spectacular adventure with the freedom to get lost in your world.
As we said at the beginning, this spirit of wanting to be such a big game takes some price, with some more comings and goings that extend the story a bit artificially. But this new God of War flies so high for so long, that we will not criticize him more than the account that cannot keep the same bar for more than 20 hours.
Seen in perspective and with the game already finished, are at least curious some of the critics of the biggest fans of the series for the changes introduced in this new release because it is precisely they who will be more satisfied. It is full of winks and references to the previous God of War, never for free, always with good taste and a narrative motive.
Some of these moments are to get up from the chair and applaud, literally and only those who worked on the series could treat with such respect and affection to their own creation. The portrait of a more mature, wise and content Kratos is great, despite its bloody past, and how they have built a much more complex character, beyond a caricature, without losing its essence along the way.
An audiovisual show
And what has just elevated God of War above average is its audiovisual section, simply spectacular, in all aspects, something within the reach of very few productions, a demonstration of power on the part of Santa Monica Studio. We were not expecting less, God of War since its first delivery was characterized by it, with authentic graphics references on both PS2 and PS3, and here again get the same, but with a little different weapon.
The models of both the protagonists and the enemies are sensational, with details taken care of to the millimetre like the Kratos musculature that is modified in real time, with excellent and incredibly varied animations, and any aspect, be it lighting or textures, It is impeccable.
Yes, technically it is faultless, both in PS4 and PS4 Pro, and is one of the references of the generation, but we were even more surprised by his superb direction of art, with a design of scenarios and sensational creatures, which make excellent use of the rich Norse mythology. It is now when we should thank them that they have not taught the game too much, since they will surprise you many of their locations, with a great capacity to untangle jaws with their beauty.
And if all this was not enough, we have the quixotic of its director, Cory Barlog, who insisted that the entire game takes place in a single shot, a gigantic sequence shot of more than 20 hours, without load screens or fades to black, which is simply amazing, took the cinematographic direction in video games a step further. Something that is not only a technical virtue but also narratively brings a lot, the feeling of always accompanying on his epic journey to Kratos and Atreus and be fully involved in the action, even in the cinematic.
In a game so careful in all its aspects, the sound could not fail either, with spectacularly powerful sound effects, capable of raising the intensity of the combats, a great soundtrack, that accompanies the perfection as usual.
A truly spectacular action adventure
God of War is the triumphant return of one of the great classics of PlayStation, which will like a lot and that will set the path to follow for future deliveries. An action adventure that triumphs in everything that is proposed, and that is a celebration for all the high of a character and a saga, and especially the great games for one player, a product that much still demands, because it is The main reason why we love video games.
Fun, spectacular and huge, with a really interesting history and the universe, visually dazzling, and a feast for any lover of the series; one of those games that justify the existence and acquisition of a PS4.
We have done this review on a PS4 Pro with a digital code provided by Sony.