Kratos and Atreus go up against the Norse gods in God of War Ragnarok. Here’s our review.
The rebirth of God of War as a moving father-son drama was a surprising yet welcome one. After all, the original slate of games had you hacking, slashing, decapitating, and uh, occasionally spending some quality time with one or two scantily clad ladies. It was all about lust, blood lust, revenge, and glory, so to now see Kratos as a rather reserved man and stern father was a big change, and yet it worked so well that gamers anxiously waited for the continuation of the adventures of the father-son duo. Four years later, God of War Ragnarok is finally out, and it was definitely worth the wait.
God of War Ragnarok review: a lot of hacking, a lot of slashing, and some father-son bonding
Set three years after the events of the first game, God of War Ragnarok finds Kratos and Atreus trying to survive Fimbulwinter, a winter that signals the coming of Ragnarok, the end of the world. Atreus, after the revelation that the giants called him Loki (gasp), seeks to find answers, but Kratos is more concerned about his safety, a far cry from the bloodthirsty Ghost of Sparta he was before. However, a visit from Odin and Thor, who’s a little salty because Kratos did kill his sons, forces both of them to act and brings them on a quest that would take them across all of the Nine Realms.
For those who’ve played the previous game, the main drive for playing Ragnarok would most likely be seeing how it all turns out. The story, the characters, and the dialogue are brilliantly written, and the twists and turns in the plot are unpredictable, or at least it wasn’t for me.
Each character provides their own sort of flavour and flair, like the comedic talking squirrel and Freya, the mother of Baldur who, uh, Kratos also killed and is now out for Kratos’ blood, providing a foil as the uneasy ally to the father and son. Even Odin, played by The West Wing’s Richard Schiff, is personable yet egotistic and subtly diabolical; definitely not like his Anthony Hopkins counterpart. Another notable character who is so well known thanks to the MCU is Ryan Hurst’s Thor, who is modelled after his depiction in Norse mythology rather than the comics. With MCU Thor’s appearance in Avengers: Endgame and this Thor, I can finally say I really do have the body of a Norse god.
But the heart of the game is Kratos and Atreus, played by Christopher Judge and Sunny Suljic who reprise their roles from the previous game. The writing for each character is terrific, with Atreus showing the eagerness and dangerous arrogance of a young god much like Kratos in his younger days, and Kratos now the older and wiser man who is just trying to protect his son, but y’know, also still able to hack, slash, and decapitate like a pro. Much like the first game, their relationship serves as the anchor and provides players with an emotional journey that will mend and break hearts.
From a gameplay perspective, not much has changed since the previous game. Combat can still be frustrating yet utterly satisfying, something that God of War has always done well since the very first game in the franchise back in 2005. Noobs like me can find a good challenge on normal difficulty but those who are simply masochistic can play on the aptly-named “God of War” difficulty. Whichever you choose, it will always be satisfying to cut through trolls, Draugrs, and fellow gods like a bawse and see blood and guts just splatter all around. Aside from combat, puzzles are peppered about throughout the world, which is vast.
Speaking of vast, this game is massive. IGN gives a rough estimate of 60 hours to complete the game, but unlike other titles, it never seemed overwhelming. Even its sidequests didn’t seem pointless, resulting in great rewards or satisfying conclusions.
Ragnarok is a shining example of a narrative-driven game at its best. It’s the story that drives the game, and it’s what made it difficult to stop playing because I, unfortunately, have responsibilities as an adult (I was informed wearing the same shirt for one week wasn’t a good thing). Even though there aren’t a lot of differences from the first game, it just proves that players aren’t necessarily looking for something drastically new in sequels, but they just want a well-made and well-written game—and God of War Ragnarok delivers on all fronts.
God of War Ragnarok is available on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5