When I presented my most anticipated games of 2022 last month, the sequel to 2018’s God of War wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye. Sure, it had been making headlines, and I knew God of War was good even without having played it, but I didn’t consider it anywhere near my top games. That’s all changed now that I’m headlong into God of War; God of War: Ragnarok now solidly makes the grade.
As I’ve made my way further into the trials and tribulation of and elder Kratos and his son Atreus, I’m have been continually blown away by everything the game offers, from its look and feel to its gameplay and mechanics. Everything just works. With little time and so much to play, I often feel like I have to rush through a game while also somehow making sure I at least squeeze a little extra goodness out of it while I can. With God of War, I welcome the slow go. I want to take in every detail, every inch of its grand scenery, every battle whether massive or small. There’s simply just so much to see and do, it’s hard to not want to see and do it all.
At the same time, life is life, and I can’t spend every waking moment solving puzzles via axe-throwing and gathering more lore than I could ever read. I’ve been sticking pretty close to God of War’s main story, despite picking up several side quests and Atreus’s suggestions that we could explore rather than simply tackle the next quest. I really want to agree with him, but his requests have so far gone unheeded. Maybe in the second playthrough, which will undoubtedly happen, I’ll be more open to extensive sightseeing.
Presently, based solely on the game’s chapter listing, I’m roughly at its halfway point. Kratos is in the midst of comes to grips with his past and Atreus’s future. He’s just unearthed a troubled but fantastic weapon from his past, the Blades of Chaos, and his mistrust of the gods grows ever stronger. Still, he must see through his and Atreus’s task to scatter his late wife’s ashes upon the high peak of the nine realms. The duo picked up a third along the way…err…maybe a third of a third, as it were – the enchanted head of Mímir, a wise and witty character who was once advisor to Odin. I mentioned before that I didn’t expect much from Atreus’s side dialogue, or that of any other character for that matter, and I truly could not have been more mistaken. Granted, Atreus’s constant calls to “get out and explore!” have become a little rote, but I adore his thoughtful and sometime humorous banter with Mímir, along with Kratos’s own surly reactions to it. The conversations between Atreus and Mímir, let alone their individual lines, is among the best companion dialogue I’ve ever experienced in a game.
This goes double for the game combat, which has been as enjoyable and refreshingly fun as ever. Picking up the Blades of Chaos was a special treat. I knew they were in the game, but I hardly expected them to outweigh the enjoyment of the Leviathan Axe. I’m only just getting the hang of using them, though I’m happy that the game lets me swing them around willy-nilly at enemies when I forget exactly what buttons to press when. I must admit that continue to struggle a little with Kratos’s axe. I’ve far too often ended up in a bare knuckle fight with enemies upon forgetting that I have to recall it from wherever I threw it previously. It’s not a huge issue, since the game has an excellent hand-to-hand combat system, but it’s one of those things that can completely take me out of the moment and cause me to unwittingly lose a fight.
As I look out to see people enjoying the likes of Horizon Forbidden West (yes, please!) and Elden Ring (no thanks, but wow), it’s not lost on me that this is so far turning out be a great year for gaming. But, I’m glad to have found my way in God of War. Should its sequel come out this year (and it should), it might just be a first-day buy. Until then, I have plenty to keep me busy in Kratos’s and Atreus’s new-old adventures.
All images, including lede, were captured by author during PS5 gameplay of God of War (© Santa Monica Studios, Sony Interactive Entertainment).