God Of War Ragnorok Review
It was 2018 when the last God of War title graced our PlayStation 4 consoles to bring us the epic game of that generation. Now, any good PlayStation fan has always enjoyed the God of War games, but in 2018 it brought us a new look and feel of the series that I’m not sure anyone quite expected.
The game brought to us an incredible journey about self-discovery, grief, hope, and a strained relationship between father and son. The game also brought to us a new gameplay feel as far as combat was concerned and gave us an experience that just felt great to play, everything had weight to it. The game itself also looked incredible, had an amazing cast of voice actors and played absolutely flawless.
With 2022’s God of War Ragnarök, Santa Monica Studios is hoping that lightning strikes twice. In a gaming year that pretty much has Elden Ring pegged for game of the year, can Kratos take down yet another god? Well, I can say to you with my expert opinion… 100% yes, he can.
I’m going to keep this review story spoiler free, because it is an incredible journey from beginning to end, with very few pauses or quiet times between epic set pieces of thrill and destruction. But even the quiet parts have a deep emotional connection to what is happening all around you. Now it is impossible to set the stage for this game without bringing up spoilers for 2018’s God of War, so if you didn’t play that already, well you really should anyway. But here we go….
The death of Baldur at your hands in the last game has brought upon the realms Thimblewinter which leads the way to Ragnarök. Instead of Kratos leading the charge in this game he steps back, just a bit and lets Atreus lead the charge on his journey of discovering who he really is, where he fits in the world, and what happened to all of the other giants.
While on this journey they must still deal with the repercussions of their actions (a running theme with Kratos honestly, LOL) along the way. Thankfully in this game they don’t strip Kratos of everything and start from scratch, early in the game you are limited to just your axe for a brief period of time before going home and picking up the chains of chaos as well.
You will still need to unlock more abilities and armors and upgrade your weapons as normal, but it’s nice to have your options early in the game. Atreus has aged and is now a teenager, he is still equipped with his bow and powers as well that you can continue to upgrade and improve as he discovers more about himself throughout this game. His personality definitely has more of an angsty teen feel to it, but not in a whiny emo way, he is on a journey to become his own man and implement all his father has taught him over the years.
The game does a lot of interesting things with emotion that I wasn’t expecting, we always knew Kratos struggles with grief in his own way, but in this game, he is not the only one. The game explores grief, dread, and hope in ways that really caught me off guard. I never would consider or think that God of War could be as emotional as a game like The Last of Us, but here we are.
Mechanically, the game doesn’t really do anything new. But there is nothing wrong with that, the last game felt incredibly good to play and combat was extremely satisfying. I was happy to just experience more of the same honestly and was relived they didn’t try to reinvent the wheel they just made minor improvements and changes to implement more of what the PS5 is capable of that the PS4 could not do.
Sounds in this game is remarkable, from the ambient noise to the orchestral soundtrack it’s all masterful. Every clanging of a chain and collision with an axe is both heard and felt. But the highlight is the voice acting for me. Every single character is done to perfection, which shows the power of good casting.
There are a handful of new faces and voices to encounter here, and they were all selected with intent it wasn’t just filling a voice, it was casting the right person to portray what this person is, what they stand for and what their motivations are. The voice of Odin, who I didn’t know was voicing him prior, was a delightful surprise. When I heard his voice I recognized it instantly and thought, my god, this is perfection for this character. The more you go through the game you realize (if you are paying attention) just how well acted this is, the pain you hear in voices, their aggression, their hope, etc.
Along your journey you will visit both new and familiar locations to complete your objectives, there are some side quests to do along the way if you choose (which you should) as they will reward your curiosity with more resources and items to upgrade your character and equipment for both Kratos and Atreus.
The game also does allow for you to revisit some areas again if needed to claim more chests and secrets you may not have been able to access prior if you wish. It’s so balanced with there is plenty for you to do, but you do not ever feel overwhelmed like you might with something like an Assassin’s Creed map. Puzzles are still present and require some thought utilizing the axe and chain mechanics and such, they get you thinking but are never a point of frustration throughout the game.
Ultimately again Sony proves why it’s number one for single player adventure gaming. It’s incredible storytelling and execution by its developers. God of War is a masterclass in storytelling and execution of game design. I had no glitches, errors, crashes or anything to speak of which was a welcome sight to get our hands on a truly completed game at release, which seems to be getting rarer and rarer in today’s market. Bottom line…. if you have a PS5 you need to get this game.