In early 2018 we saw the long anticipated return of the God of War series. A soft reboot that moves the timeline down a few years, putting Kratos in a new time with a new family in an unfamiliar land to the player. This fresh perspective brought a whole host of new changes to the well established series. No longer a hack and slash game with mindless combat, this iteration not only has deep combat but also deep storytelling in a compelling game that really hits home for anyone who can relate to the story, be it a son, or a father, or anyone who has been in a situation like that.
The fighting in this game feels different than many other games on the market today. The combat feels like there’s a purpose for every movement, every time you swing the axe it has purpose, it feels planned and prepared. This game feels almost like the complete opposite of its predecessors in that while there aren’t a ton of enemies on screen at once, your moves matter more than ever. One missed swing could result in death with some foes if you don’t plan it right. While most times it would only cost an ability to get you out of a bad situation, some opponents will be brutal and take advantage of anything they can get. Atreus makes for one of the best companions in video game history because he isn’t the usual damsel in distress companinon that the video game world is so used to. Companions like Atreus usually mean that it is someone else to be watchful of, however Atreus saves Kratos’ life more than the other way around.
The story, however, is where this game shines the brightest. While not the first game to tell a story like this, it quite possibly is the best. The journey that these two embark on is relatable on so many levels. While not being a father myself, I found myself relating to Atreus more than I ever imagined. A young boy with destiny thrust upon him, and left alone with his father that he never connected to quite like he did to his mother. A strained relationship at best, the two main characters grow to love each other dearly and both gain the ability to see the other’s point of view, a valuable lesson we can all take away today.
This game is so much more than its two main protagonists though. Baldur, Mimir, Freya and all of the other characters bring so much depth to the game and provide a uniquely human story from a game about gods and fate. Freya quite possibly is the most perfect side character we may ever see in a video game. Her character arc throughout the story, and learning how she got to where she is and just how horrible of a fate she has been given makes her such a compelling character that, while she got plenty of screen time, I wish she had more. Her story was just as compelling as Kratos’ with no action and half as much background information. Mimir also stands out as one of the greatest side characters ever. The duo of Atreus and Kratos would become stale after too long of these very stubborn characters. Mimir helps to break the tension and provide lore in a completely alternative route compared to most games today. I found myself sitting at the shore with my boat practically docked, just listening to the stories he would tell.
The story overall is paced perfectly, providing the strong combat on shore and providing lore and telling stories while traveling by boat. The trips are just short enough that it doesn’t become too much to slow down. In fact, often times I appreciated the chance to relax and take some time to learn more about the world. The single cut camera is absolutely beautiful and an achievement that should, at the very least, lay a groundwork for how games should be told in the future. The sense of immersion was multiplied without the game cutting to cinematics that look completely different from what you are getting in the game. So often I found myself confused on whether or not I was in control of Kratos during the big moments, and that had the opposite effect that what I would have expected.
God of War proves that you don’t need the biggest open world ever, or have the most enemies on screen at one time to be successful. What you need is purpose, there has to be a weight to your actions as a protagonist. God of War proves that a concise and well thought out narrative can provide a much stronger reaction than a game with 150 hours of content that doesn’t mean anything. Every mission has a reason to it, even side quests, there are lessons to be learned from what you do, it shows that even the actions of gods have consequences.
Overall God of War is the best game in a year crowded with obvious games of the year in weaker years. The fact that this game rose to the top against all odds, stood the test of time and still outlasted the competition proves not only how amazing this game is, but also how amazing this past year in gaming was. 2018 was the culmination of decades of developers trying to figure out how to make the perfect game, and this game in particular is another large step. God of War is a game that will stand the test of time going forward, not only for its fun and engaging gameplay, but also the surprisingly soft and caring story that comes with such a brutal game. With twists up until literally the final seconds of the game, this story hits home with anyone who is, or has ever, struggled in a relationship with someone they would give everything for. Congratulations, Sony on an amazing game, thank you to the developers courageous enough to make the decisions that they made even with opposition, and thank you reader for making this a great year, here’s hoping for another year of amazing games in 2019.
Do you agree? Is God of War your game of the year? Let me know in the comments down below, and don’t forget to subscribe for more Bring Your Own Games.