This post contains VERY MILD SPOILERS. This review is exhaustive but I have taken care to not spoil the important moments of the game.
It's long, so TL;DR, BUY IT. IT'S GOOD.
The problem with most reviews out there is that they don't play through everything the game has to offer. Some of them (like some YouTube streamers) only finish the story and give the review based on that. I think that's stupid and irresponsible. To make a proper review, you have to see and do everything and experience every piece of content.
I don't normally make posts. In fact, I haven't written anything like this in years. I haven't even finished a game in years because I am so picky with what I play. If a game becomes stale as I play through it or I get bored and have to force myself to go on, I drop it and play something else. I'm the kind of player who won't accept bad game design choices and will only accept the best. And when I experience a game that deserves my time, I give it all my attention.
In the past year, I played FFXV, Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and Divinity 2 and they're all sitting around unfinished (mostly around 50-70% done) because they start well but become repetitive in the middle. The last game I finished was Batman: Arkham Knight and it wasn't so good, I just like Batman a lot. God of War is the first game in many years that I finished exhaustively. In another thread, while I was playing the game, I discussed how many it would sell. I thought it would go 7m lifetime (boy was I wrong) and now I would like everyone to know that you have to buy this game.
In this review, I tried to be critical about everything. I've spent more than 150 hours on it (that's why I'm writing this more than a month later) and so this review isn't like those others who only finished the story. I did 100% of everything (yes, including finding all those goddamn Odin Ravens) in all difficulties (particularly Give Me God of War) for those who want to know everything there is in the game. I also played all the previous God of War games (except the PSP ones, handheld gaming sucks). Again, VERY MILD SPOILERS.
First off, the game does deserve high marks, but not 10/10. It has some irritating flaws. I think that those reviewers who rushed out their 10s didn’t really play it enough to give it a real score. I discussed each section as positives or negatives and discussed how much weight they have on the overall score. I have tried to be as direct as possible to make this as short as possible.
+ = Positive, - = Negative
+ Over the shoulder camera gets you up close to the action. You really feel the weight of each axe swing and the severity of the violence. When Kratos rips apart an enemy, you will get this flashback of God of War 3's Poseidon execution. A lot of people say that the violence has been toned down but I disagree. I think that it’s even more violent thanks to the camera.
+ Skill and timing is required especially on the highest difficulty levels. Unlike in previous games wherein all you have to do most of the time is mash buttons, you really have to practice a lot in this game or else you'll get killed even by the simplest enemies. It is very similar to the Souls series in this regard except that the player feels far more powerful. I love how the timing of swings, dodges, and blocks is so exact and you're rewarded for your time spent in the game.
+ Multiple options are available for you depending on your playstyle. The system is deep enough yet also accessible for players who aren't so good at action games. There are many flashy moves you can do but they aren't necessary, which provides more choices for skilled players. It never felt repetitive to fight even while grinding in the game's endgame levels.
+ The main boss battles KICK ASS. I wish I could discuss them in detail but I would rather that new players experience it themselves. The first boss fight, for example, is probably the best one I've had in my life. No exaggeration. Also, there’s an enormous sense of scale you get to experience with some of the world’s huge characters and you do feel like a total badass when you take down some of these creatures.
- Rage mode is flat and underwhelming. I mean, you’d expect that this would be a special God mode wherein he would unleash his true power like in certain cutscenes where he activates Spartan rage, Kratos becomes capable of superhuman feats. But in combat, he just punches and punches and punches and it's boring. It doesn't have a lot of creativity or variety to it. The regular combat system is way better and I only used rage to regenerate health.
+ Norse mythology is presented in a completely different and fresh manner. Most of the time, the gods like Thor and Odin are the good guys and it took a lot of balls to make them into assholes here. There is so much depth and so many stories discussed that it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. There is so much to learn and yet there is so much to expect as well for the sequel.
+ The characters are all very interesting and have unique personalities. Each one of them has layers and layers of depth within them and it's really interesting that the game stays true to the myths while putting their own spin on them without breaking the original. Kratos fits right in and it all makes sense why he's there and what he's trying to do. The best character, in my opinion, is the main antagonist. Some people complain about the fact that Thor and Odin aren’t enemies in the game but we have to remember that in the original God of War, Ares was basically the only god you end up killing. This is a setup for bigger things to come.
+ The father and son dynamic is done extremely well. As a father, I personally felt the same emotions Kratos did throughout the journey. It feels completely natural and unforced. The tears will flow at certain times and you will be upset at the end because it's done and you wish it could just go on longer.
+ The sidequests are all tied to the mythology so there no dumb "fetch 10 sheepskins" quests here. They all seem to mean something and you’re rewarded well for your effort so there is a high level of immersion even though you're just exploring. Some of them feel extremely epic as well, sometimes even surpassing the level of the main story. Also, thankfully, the SJWs haven't infected the game so there aren't any strange diversity characters present here. IT'S NORSE. NORSE = VAST MAJORITY WHITE. When we visit African mythology, they better be majority African. NOT IN NORSE. THANK YOU SONY.
+ The ending of the story is highly rewarding and there’s a plot twist that’s so well done that it ties everything together nicely. The entire game has been leading up to that point and it’s very satisfying unlike other games that give you one shitty cutscene with nothing to look forward to (I’m looking at you, Mass Effect 3 before the patch). You will want to play to the end and you will be extremely excited for the sequel.
- The main quest, which is to bring the mom's ashes to the mountain, is done poorly. First of all, you never see the mom or even hear a word she says so it's difficult to maintain any kind of emotional connection to her. Second, the game has a bunch of lazy sections wherein you backtrack again and again because of some silly obstacle that appears out of nowhere. It does this so many times and it's a clear mark of lazy writing. This is 2018, yet they’re still doing “your princess is in another castle” as if it’s the 1980s.
++- Graphics and Animations
+ This game is probably the most beautiful I've ever seen. The sheer amount of detail on environments and characters will take your breath away. This is especially true if you play on PS4 Pro (worth it) and if you have a 4k HDR TV. For players who have the money, go for Performance Mode. The added framerate improves combat by a significant amount. With the resolution mode, I couldn’t tell the difference unless I put my face really close to the TV (55 inch).
+ Combat animations are realistic but feel supernatural at the same time. In other words, it doesn't look too cartoonish but at the same time, you really get a sense of power behind your actions. Every swing and every kill looks absolutely engaging and you really feel like the God of War when you fight.
- Would it have killed the developer to add extra execution animations? It's 2018. Having one goddamn animation per enemy type is inexcusable. It's nice to look at but after you've crushed the hundredth guy's head under your foot, it gets old quickly. One more goddamn animation per enemy would have broken the monotony.
++- Enemies and AI
+ The enemy AI can be pretty unforgiving. In the highest difficulty, they don't just have more health and do more damage. They actually behave differently and are more aggressive. Like I said, the combat is skill based, meaning if you suck, you will die a lot. The enemies actually force you to be better (pun intended) and even the basic ones can kick your ass if you aren't prepared. It’s not as hard as the Souls games but it’s challenging enough for even the best players to die often (watch this guy https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuY531cx8Iklgkei66ET3NA - probably the best player I’ve seen, but he still dies a lot).
+ The BOOIIIIII (Atreus), thankfully, isn't an idiot. We all know that escort missions suck because your movements are so limited. However, Atreus really is an invaluable asset in combat rather than a nuisance. He takes the Ellie mechanic (from The Last of Us) to a completely new level.
- There aren't enough enemy types. There are a bunch of different kinds visually, but they're simply reskins of the same enemy over and over. One has a sword, one shoots ice spears, but they're still the same monster. How many of the same damn ogre do I have to fight? Ride his face and punch him and cut his face 100 times? 10 troll mini bosses with mostly the same movesets with only minor differences in appearance? Drop the log on their heads over and over??
+ The voice acting is one of the best I've seen in a game. All the characters (maybe except the "woman" voiced by Danielle Bisutti because she sounds like Tina Fey getting a hairdo, not serious at all) are done well. Christopher Judge, the voice of Kratos, does an amazing job at providing the God of War with a mature, powerful yet reserved voice with a spice of bubbling anger underneath the civility. I personally think he deserves an award for it. Alastair Duncan, the voice of the main antagonist, also does an outstanding job.
+ The music, sound effects, and sometimes the lack thereof in certain sections are done perfectly. By that, I mean that the sound simply doesn't distract you and you don't get tired of it. The axe thuds, for example, aren't overstated and sound different depending on what you hit. The menu has no music (just an airy sound) so there's nothing to get sick of since you have to spend a lot of time there. The beautiful battle theme is just background and you don't notice it when fighting. I also love how there's only a light theme playing while you row your boat on the lake. This is a good thing because I believe that sound should serve as a complement, not the focus.
+ There's a lot to do here. The main story will take casual players around 20-25 hours while the various side quests and searching for collectibles will take another 20+ hours depending on how much you want to complete. 100% of everything will take 70+ but if you suck (like me) and play other difficulties, it'll take hundreds of hours. This is astounding since previous games only had 12-15 hours of content. Some of the secret stuff will totally blow your mind because of how well hidden they are.
+ There's a lot to do after you finish the story. Particularly, there are some optional bosses that will kick your ass so hard even with the best gear. They're like the game's version of emerald and ruby weapon from FF7. Farming the gear to take them down and trying 20x each to beat them is a time sink that honestly didn't feel repetitive. I loved how hard they were and how rewarded you felt afterwards. Most of all, I love how they’re not just some random superbosses generated for no reason. They actually have a lot to do with the lore and it’s very satisfying to take them down from a story perspective as well.
- There's a huge feature missing that is so easy to implement. NEW GAME+ would have been awesome because the story is great but getting the gear and items all over again sucks. If they put this in the game sometime later via patch, it would be perfect. In other words, it's worth replaying but not so much as an entirely new game.
++- Crafting and Loot
+ Item progression is spaced out nicely so each set of armor you get feels like a real upgrade. You don't change gear every few minutes so each set you make or find truly feels like an accomplishment or collectible you want to keep. When you upgrade your axe, for example, the changes are so significant that your entire combat style can change each time. This is light years ahead of other games like Divinity where there’s so much randomized loot that whenever you get something new, it feels worthless. There are also many different builds you can go for and progression isn't linear. Another good thing is that certain crafting materials are limited while there are multiple things you can make using them. This means that you really have to think about what you're making before you make it because you won't be able to make some other things.
+ Armor, enchantments, talismans etc. all feel like they belong to the lore. Unlike in other games like WoW or Final Fantasy wherein you can get random nonsense things that have nothing to do with the monster you beat (Gorehowl, Grom Hellscream's axe, for example, drops from Prince Malchezaar. How the hell? No one has a good explanation for this). Here, you get armor sets from the exact monster you beat. For example, there are monsters called Travelers and they drop Traveler armor upgrade pieces for crafting. Isn't this basic? Other developers are simply too lazy to make their loot make sense.
- Despite the many options for loot in the game, it feels limited because there are only three slots of armor and one talisman and the enchantments more or less feel the same (stat boosts, though some have small unique effects). I feel like it’s such a waste that they didn’t make shields into an actual armor slot. The shields are limited to cosmetic skins that you get either from pre-order or finishing the game on the hardest difficulty and THIS SUCKS. I don’t understand this decision at all.
++- Exploration and Puzzles
+ Since the world is crafted with so much detail, running around doesn’t feel like a chore. It is a pretty big universe and there are plenty of places to go and see (not absurdly big, of course, just right). The nice thing is that your companions always have some new story bits to say when you’re just rowing your boat on the lake so you’re always immersed in Norse Mythology wherever you go.
+ It’s not open world, and it doesn’t have to be. This is an action focused game and too many irrelevant sections would just make the game worse. You do, however, have the freedom to choose whatever you want to do so it’s kind of semi-linear, which is good because you get the best of both worlds. On one hand, you always know where to go and what to do, and on the other, you have the choice of which path to go on.
- The puzzles are either too simple or pointless. Each puzzle can be figured out by a 5 year old (on an M rated game?) and I wished that they would make something challenging that takes some effort to solve. Also, there are some really stupid trap sections that are in place simply to waste your time. It totally defies logic sometimes because they’re so easy to get past, not fun at all, and they seem to be just there to extend the length of the game artificially.
+++- Presentation and UI
+ No loading, no camera cuts. This gem of a game design decision is one of the best things I love about the game and it shows other lazy ass developers that it CAN BE DONE. You’re always in the story. You’re always in the action. You’re always immersed. It’s an awesome idea that should be implemented by others in the future.
+ The game feels epic. From the opening scene where Kratos is cutting a tree to the lore markers, you get the sense that the developers poured their hearts and souls into this game. Nothing seems rushed or underdone (except the enemies and kill animations, seriously) and the overall atmosphere of the game begs for you to take photos. Speaking of which, the photo mode is awesome. It has so many different features that enable you to take really breathtaking images for those who are into that kind of thing. It also allows you to (hilariously) change Kratos and Atreus’ facial expressions so you can make Mr. Serious into a clown.
+ There’s an option to remove the UI completely called Immersive Mode. With this, all you see is Kratos, the BOOIIIII, and the enemies to kill. The carnage in this mode is far more impressive because you aren’t worried about game elements and you can totally focus on just the action. It’s freaking difficult though so it’s only good for experienced players.
- The text in the menus is way too small (patched, but still too damn small) and the equipment sorting is terrible. When you get to the endgame and you have dozens of enchantments, it’s so tedious and tiresome to search for a particular one you need. The problem is, you have to unequip each enchantment before unequipping your armor because for some unknown reason, the enchantments stick to the old armor. After that, you search for them again manually through the list when equipping them to the new armor. Also, the map is difficult to use. There’s too little detail in it and oftentimes, you don’t even know where you’re looking.
Overall, I give this game a 9.3/10. It’s almost perfect but there are several things holding it back and these things aren’t things you can change by patch (aside from NEW GAME+, please add it thank you). It’s no doubt the game of the year but people have to be honest with its flaws. If you read this whole thing, thanks. I just had nothing to do today.Last edited by bugrimmar - on 03 June 2018