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I Can See Why God of War Was 2018’s Game of the Year

I Can See Why God of War Was 2018’s Game of the Year

Procrastination is a good thing. Sometimes.

In the world of video games waiting to buy a game often leads to getting a better deal on the title. Perhaps a DLC-included package deal. Or at the very least you can make a more informed purchase since many outlets will have given their two cents on the game.

In the case of God of War waiting doesn’t mean any new bells and whistles to the main adventure. There aren’t any new pieces of content to digest those who purchased the game upon release didn’t already experience. Procrastinating simply means denying yourself the enjoyment of playing a truly excellent video game.

By now its a forgone conclusion Santa Monica Studio’s God of War is a remarkable game. All of the skepticism and naysayers speaking against the game before release were silenced when Kratos first picked up the Leviathan Axe and started ripping apart anything that talked. In fact, it is these changes to the God of War series formula that make 2018’s outing stand out in a long line of outstanding video games.

At the forefront of the game is the narrative. Gone are the gods of Greek mythology; in their place are the deities of Norse lore. Kratos, driven by his loss of family in the original games, now has a son named Atreus. The iconic blades of chaos are replaced by a hefty, magical axe. Flames from the underworld are quelled by the snowy region of the north. In almost every aspect, God of War takes the series staples and turns them on their head. This leads to a captivating story with characters who develop and grow in meaningful ways. In a game with fountains of blood and gore, the story of a father and son somehow breaks through as the most memorable image upon completion.

Your enjoyment of God of War will be influenced by your past recollections of the series. If you know where Kratos has come from, you will appreciate his massive character arc all the more. Even if you have not played a previous game in the series, the game does a wonderful job digging its claws in to you and pulling you in to the world. New characters like the helpful witch Freya and the menacing mad god Baldur drive the story forward and steal the show when present. Perhaps most notable is Atreus. Kratos’ son is integral to the entire plot and I found myself really liking his interactions with everything in the world.

Storytelling is one pillar to a quality the game. The other is stellar gameplay, and God of War nails it in every department. Gone are the days of spamming the attack button and watching legions of enemies perish. In its place are strategic combat tactics required to take down a wide variety of enemies. Though it takes some getting used too, the depth of the combat system is amazing. One method for dispatching a massive ice elemental will not work when taking on a flying demon elf. In a sort of Dark Souls-y way, the combat is punishing and rewarding at the same time, and is always fair. Simple RPG elements allow you to upgrade your weapons, gain new abilities, and learn new skills, all of which augment the arsenal at Kratos’ disposal.

God of War came out in 2018 on the PlayStation 4. At that point in time, there were already hundreds of amazing looking video games to be compared to. Despite this, God of War still looks to be in another league. The visuals are breathtaking, with the attention to detail going through the roof. Landscapes are dynamically lit, enemies react when hit on different parts of the body, and the entire environment feels like a living, breathing world. Cover all of that with the trimmings of a deep Norse mythology and you have a rich world that is simply fun to explore.

As I wrapped up the game’s main storyline, the first thought I had was, “Is that it!?” That wasn’t a bad thing, though. The game didn’t end too quickly, and the end battle wasn’t a letdown.

I just wanted more.

I wasn’t ready to leave this world. I wanted to see more of what Atreus and Kratos would do now that they had completed their main mission. I needed to know how the world would move on since Kratos did what he did. I just wanted to keep playing. Though it was bittersweet to see the credits role, it was also a wholly satisfying experience I will not soon forgot.

There are some games that come out and get some buzz for being a “Game of the Year” contender because they have a great story, or some cool mechanic. There are even more that are good in comparison to other games released the same year. And there are also games like 2018’s God of War: it truly does bring together a captivating narrative, memorable characters, welcome and wonderful changes to a long-standing series, and a yearning by the player to want more. Here’s hoping we’ll see another adventure with the God of War as awesome as this one.

Laters,
Jsick

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Jsick

I've been writing about video games for over five years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.

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