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HomeGames & Tech'God of War: Ragnarok' review

‘God of War: Ragnarok’ review

We tend to separate the games industry into two genres, AAA and indie. AAA is generally accepted as big budget games, that lack ambition, but look great and are fun to play. Indie titles are commonly known for having interesting gameplay ideas or an emotional story. God of War has always been a AAA series and for most of its life has been the expected popcorn adventure, that is until God of War 2018. Sony Santa Monica opted for a risky, more reserved title and it paid off massively. Now we’re looking at the sequel to one of the biggest surprises in AAA gaming. Can they do it again?

This review contains spoilers for God of War (2018), you have been warned.

After Kratos and Atreus killed Baldur, they received news that his death will bring about Ragnarök, the end of the Nine Realms. Unshaken by fate, Kratos opts to carry on living as planned and both he and Atreus continue their lives peacefully. A few years go by and apart from occasional attacks by an angry Freya, things are going well. Atreus is learning his powers as Loki and Kratos is becoming a better father. Unfortunately an unsolicited visit from Thor and Odin show that they aren’t as safe as they think. Atreus speaks of Tyr, the Norse God of War (and enemy of Odin) and mentions that he may have found his holding cell. With only a few allies to their name, Kratos and Atreus set out to recruit this mighty hero.

While Ragnarök serves as this ticking time bomb to a ghastly end, God of War: Ragnarök concerns itself with the dynamics of the main and secondary cast for much of its run time. Kratos is beginning to shun violence as a first resort and Atreus is wrestling with the choice of staying as himself or becoming Loki. Kratos knows the prophecy of what’s to come but has altered fate often enough to know he can keep Atreus safe. What’s mightily impressive, is how the game gives a lot of depth to its side characters and villains. Everybody gets a solid chunk of time to develop their characters and there truly isn’t a single weak link. Brok and Sindri have a beautiful arc and Freya’s journey is sorrowful, her struggle with grief and rage is excellently told. Characters aren’t as you’d expect and thankfully that applies to the plot.

God of War Ragnarok
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Santa Monica Studio

You may think you know what the game will do next, but you don’t. It plays with your emotions and delivers wonderful twists at unexpected moments. I wouldn’t say the ending lands as well as it could have as the finale is kinda rushed out of the door, but there’s one main thread God of War: Ragnarök keeps very close to its chest. That, of course, is the relationship between Kratos and Atreus. It lends to some of the most beautiful moments in gaming, there’s few developers who can craft a story and characters like this.

Reading this review means you’ve finished the first game and from a gameplay perspective, not a lot has changed, besides some minor adjustments, everything is mostly identical to the last game. This is great, God of War 2018 played like a mix between a Souls game and a Devil May Cry game and this title slightly elevates that with more skills and more varied enemies. Thankfully, the pool of bosses and mini-bosses is expanded, some are re-used but not to the extent of the last game. Puzzles are more interesting too, given Kratos’s expanded arsenal. Everything is just better, there’s more of it but it doesn’t get too much.

God of War Ragnarok
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Santa Monica Studio

As far as exploration goes, this game is far, far bigger than God of War 2018, there’s more side quests and a lot more side content, with a relatively meaty endgame. It’s not an open world game, Santa Monica have kept things tight and concise, which keeps it consistently engaging. There’s not much left to say on a gameplay front, I just need to clarify that it isn’t a negative thing. It takes what works and keeps it as is. If for some reason you disliked the gameplay loop of the last game, note that it hasn’t changed at all.

On the run up to and after the release of God of War: Ragnarök, I was led to believe this sequel doesn’t look much better than the last game. Maybe people need to go to the opticians because the game looks substantially better than 2018’s outing. It’s iterative but, damn this game really impresses. The score is absolutely soaring, Bear McCreary has proven himself many, many times, this is no exception. The sound design is equally top notch with allies calling out enemies like in the previous title and if you have a PS5 with 3D audio, the soundscape truly excels.

There were absolutely no technical issues throughout gameplay, which is a rarity these days. Which of course, brings me to voice acting. I want to make something very, very clear. Every single voice actor in this game goes above and beyond almost everybody in the industry, that’s how good the voice-work is. That’s not the crazy thing, the insane thing is that Christopher Judge as Kratos still manages to outshine everyone. Sunny Suljic as Atreus, Danielle Bisutti as Freya and Adam J Harrington as Sindri also deliver top of the class performances.

I may have been very brief about the nitty gritty parts of the game, as a sequel to a game we all clearly loved, I’ll let you discover the comings and goings yourself. Rest assured that nothing in the game sticks out as a negative. You may have a raised eyebrow at my assessment of the finale, but it’s not a slight. The game gave me so much fun and wonder, I didn’t mind. Sony Santa Monica put so, so much love into this game. God of War: Ragnarök is a AAA game that sits alongside titles like “Shooty Shooty Bang Bang Live Service Simulator 22” (not a real game), yet it proves a AAA game like this can capture the spirit of what every indie darling tries to accomplish. It caps off a series so perfectly, every other game this year is left in the dust. Simply put, it’s one of the best games ever made.

God of War: Ragnarok was reviewed using a copy purchased by the reviewer.

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: Santa Monica Studio Release Date: 9th November 2022 Reviewed On: PS5

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We tend to separate the games industry into two genres, AAA and indie. AAA is generally accepted as big budget games, that lack ambition, but look great and are fun to play. Indie titles are commonly known for having interesting gameplay ideas or an...'God of War: Ragnarok' review