Is God of War Worth it?

Is God of War Worth it
It's beautiful. Let's paint it red.

Is God of War Good?

Is this glorious beard worth your time?

Greek Myth is Dead…Now it’s Norse Myth’s Turn

Just before I began playing God of War (2018) I had serendipitously read Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, in which Gaiman distills nearly all of Norse Mythology into a single entertaining narrative. It turned out to be an excellent primer for this game, and I believe I got more out of my time with God of War due to my familiarity with the myths they were using as inspiration.

Do you need to read up on Norse myth to get into this game? Absolutely not. The game does a fantastic job of bringing you into the world of Norse myth. While God of War is incredibly respectful of its source material, it aims to tell its own version of the story, inserting its characters into the narrative in the same was the original God of War series injected itself into Greek mythology. This time though, the use of Norse myth is done with even more nuanced than the way Greek myth was used. A character that becomes a companion mid game, Mimir, serves as a storyteller, further deepening your connection with this world.   

Not your Father’s God of War

At the core of God of War’s story is the relationship between Kratos and his son Atreus. A significant (but intentionally undetermined) amount of time has passed between the end of the last game and this one. Kratos has left the Greek world behind. This new world gives him the opportunity for a new beginning and he remarries and has a son. Kratos’s wife, Atreus’s mother, has died just before the game begins and he and Atreus set off to fulfill her final wish: To have her 

He is going to need so much therapy. 

This beginning is very different than any other God of War game, which generally began with an angry Kratos needing to kill a huge creature put in his way by the gods. Kratos is anger and rage personified. Kratos previously felt like a one-note character and that is no longer the case.

This Kratos is trying to bury his past. He genuinely wants to be a good father for his son, but he is so emotionally stunted he does not know how. This is a character with a lot of depth. It is the growth in the relationship between the two characters that drive a very compelling and very satisfying story.

There are very few games that pull off a comparable story and they are considered some of the best game stories ever written, and some of the best games of all time.

It Shares Similarities with Some of the Best

God of War (2018) finds itself in the company of games like The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite. 

All three games take place in spectacular game worlds, but at their core, it is the relationship and growth between the two main characters that make them special.  

Another reason it is worth comparing God of War to The Last of Us and Bioshock: Infinite is in how well each game uses its secondary character. Atreus, like Ellie, and Elizabeth, is a companion character done right. He is helpful. He does not get in the way of gameplay but enhances it. He cannot die in combat and cause a game over, which is always positive and the incidental dialog between Atreus and Kratos is fantastic. Atreus may even go one step farther than those beloved characters because having him fire his arrows is a button on the controller. Essentially meaning that in the middle of combat, Atreus is another weapon in your arsenal to take advantage of. 

He will shoot the bad guys in the face. IN THE FACE!

Combat: Up-close and Personal

The combat of God of War has been modified, the main reason is the new over the shoulder perspective. The game is presented in a single uncut camera shot and it makes combat much more intimate. As a result, you will be fighting fewer enemies than in previous games but the combat feels like it has more weight to it.  Instead of the Blades of Chaos from earlier games, Kratos now uses The Leviathan Ax. In an inspired use of the mythology, the Leviathan Ax was made by the same dwarf brothers that made Thor’s Hammer, and like Thor’s Hammer it can be thrown and will return to your hand. The ax slows down combat, but the combat is quite satisfying. Some might be thrown off by the need to be a bit more tactical than in earlier titles, especially in the early game. 

This ax will be going into your face. IN YOUR FACE!

The reason you need to be more tactical early on is also due to something new for the God of War series: RPG elements. Kratos can upgrade his weapons and armor and the weapons and armor of Atreus. You can choose to utilize certain buffs over others, depending on your play style, be it offensive, defensive, up close or ranged.

The world you explore is described as “Semi-Open World.” After a lengthy linear introductory sequence, you reach a hub area, The Lake of the Nine, from which you can continue the main story or explore. The layout of the world is comparable to something like Zelda: Ocarina of Time, with The Lake of the Nine acting like Hyrule field: a central open area, with lots of offshoots that generally lead to a more linear experience once discovered. Like Zelda games, exploration will lead to hidden areas, new quests and hours and hours of optional side 

There is nothing out of the ordinary here…

God of War is also a big game, and in an era when everything either is multiplayer focused or has a multiplayer aspect, God of War is unapologetically single player. God of War is also an incredibly beautiful game. It is optimized to be played on a PS4 Pro, but it still looks stunning on a standard PS4. It does have the set pieces God of War is famous for, and when they show up, they are just as jaw-dropping as ever. 

Is it Worth Playing?

So, is God of War worth picking up?

Yes. Yes, it is.

It was my favorite game from 2018.  

It connected with me personally for a few reasons. I love single player games. I enjoy games with deep and well-told stories, and I love mythology. This game was a pretty easy sell for me. I found the combat initially a bit frustrating before I really understood it (it called for more precision and thought than most action-adventure games.) Mistakes in combat in the early going could quickly end in a game over. But once the combat clicked, and I got a few upgrades, combat turned incredibly fun. 

This is a game worth checking out because games like this don’t come out every day. 

A new day. 

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Stephen is a writer, historian and tour guide in DC . He has 3 Masters Degrees and was once captured by pirates. His proudest recent achievement was getting an NES controller to work on the Switch.
Gamer Since: 1988
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: God of War
Top 3 Favorite Games:Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Blood and Wine , Portal 2, Baldur's Gate

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