God of War – Several hours deep

I expected to blitz through the story of God of War.  Envisioning a linear, fast-paced, brawler of sorts, with what appeared to be a strong narrative.

Well…….I’m an idiot and now I feel like I’ve not given the whole series even half of the chance it deserves.

Since getting deep into the PS4 title, I’ve found myself wondering what I’ve missed out on over the years.  Thankfully, there are plenty of videos online that help get you caught up with the life of Kratos.  Poor bastard has had a pretty hard time!

Now, here I am.  I’ve spent more time wandering and exploring than I thought would be possible…….turns out the game isn’t quite so linear, and the heritage of this series is something worth spending time learning about.

This isn’t just a game that ends up as some kind of buddy comedy.  Well, not that I’ve seen so far anyway?

 

Halfway there

By my reckoning (a quick, spoiler free look online), I’m just shy of the halfway point in God of War.  It’s a weird place to be, because I started this game really being punished by the combat, and thought I’d be stuck in this brutal loop of live-die-repeat for hours on end.

I haven’t though! Sure, I’ve died often, but I’ve gotten used to the combat.  I’ve developed a better moveset, Atreus is invaluable to me now, too. 

It feels like I’ve hit some kind of sweet-spot, whereby I’ve upgraded and learned how to handle myself enough, that I can progress at a reasonable pace now.

That’s because I’ve spent so much time doing side-quests and puzzles to get chests with items to improve my health and spartan rage.  I’ve earned my comfort, hell, I’ve worked for it.

God of War isn’t punishing, but it can be unforgiving, and I’ve learned my lessons.

The thing is, after the initial shock and sense of dread, I’ve found myself relishing the opportunity to fight new enemies and use new abilities.  Truth is though, nothing is quite so satisfying as countering an attack with your shield then holding R2 to get a massive axe swing into the head of an enemy.  Timing is everything, and it is so satisfying when you get things right.

Beyond Kratos’ axe and fists, Atreus does as decent job of drawing aggro, interrupting attacks of enemies.  Now he even jumps on them to hold them for you to come and punish, he trips them up, you name it, he’s very useful.

 

Father-son dynamic

Kratos and Atreus aren’t exactly the best of friends, or that father-son team that some families are.

If anything, they’re chalk and cheese.  Kratos is brooding, insular and, well…..he’s seen a lot of shit over the years.

Atreus is a wide-eyed little boy who’s mostly been raised by his mother and doesn’t understand his fathers’ stark demeanor.

It makes for a genuinely interesting journey as they work towards their common goal.  Both in mourning, both dealing with it in very different ways.  Atreus needs a parent and some affection.  Kratos wants Atreus to toughen up.

Every now and then you see Kratos slip and want to be a little more supportive, but so far I’ve only witnessed him holding back.

God of War is definitely pushed by this relationship.  Yes there’s a story and a goal, but the focus is on these two and how they achieve that. 

Sometimes I feel bad for Atreus because his father is so damn cold.  Other times I hear my moody teenage-self in Atreus and just want him to shut the hell up.  The by has no idea how to just be quiet sometimes……

The only thing that grates with me here is the very prominent American accent on Atreus.  It sticks out like a sore thumb in God of War, where gods and mythical races speak in their own tongues, and with character.  Sure there’s plenty of English, and the delivery of the lines is excellent, but that accent just seems out of place.

 

Puzzling

Apart from the fact that there is plenty of room for exploration, I’m mostly surprised at the amount of little puzzles and hidden areas.  You have to search every nook and cranny, and you need to always be looking for things to aid you on your way.

The puzzles aren’t too taxing, but they nicely change-up the pace of combat and chaos.  I’ve relished in unlocking some of the Nornir chests, and feel adequately reward which is nice.  Finding those symbols, and working out timings or angles, it’s fun!

Other than that God of War isn’t afraid to just leave you to work out what you should be doing. Sure there’s a marker at the top of your screen, and yeah Atreus will keep dropping not-so-subtle hints.  But you can just wander and do what you want.

There’s much more of an Uncharted or Tomb Raider vibe to game that I had no expectation of at all.  I love the Uncharted games, and have played plenty of Tomb Raiders over the years.  I love the God of War gives me some of that good stuff.

 

The next part

So, I usually do 3 parts for games like this, and well, this is part 2.

That leaves me to do a final conclusion and add to my collective thoughts on here.  God of War thus far, has not only been a surprise, but it’s honestly becoming a very strong game of the year candidate.

I never expected to be playing a God of War game, let alone enjoying it and considering it with quite the level of weight that I am doing.  Honestly, it’s amazing to be quite so surprised.

I’ll finish the story, hit some side bits where I can, but I want to see where things go now, and I’m hitting a stride with my pacing.

Pacing, Audio and controls are to be covered next.  Along with the overall rating and final thoughts on the story.

Truth is, I’m really excited to carry on and see where it takes me.  Having done very little reading or research, and essentially writing it off, I’ve left myself vulnerable to experiencing it with no pre-conceived notions.  It might be the best thing I’ve done in years!

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