God of War Ragnarök Review – Next To Godliness – Game Informer

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It’s almost a disservice to call 2018 God of War a sequel. Yes, it was a continuation of Kratos’ original multi-game journey, but it put him and a new family in an alien world to reflect on their past and attempt to secure their future. Kratos’ journey to join his son while battling a new army of incredible gods was a revelation in both the story and action of the video game, setting a high bar for the inevitable sequel. Ragnarok may lack the unique impact of previous games, but everything that worked so well the first time comes forward, as well as a story that earns its proper definition of the word epic.

Ragnarok basically picks up exactly where the previous left off in terms of narrative. Atreus is a bit older and has dropped the ‘boy’ nickname altogether. In a tradition established at the beginning of the God of War series, the opening hours are stellar. The action begins immediately, setting up new enemies and old friends, but all the explosive set pieces have quiet moments of captivating performance performances. The characterizations of newcomer Odin and scorned mother Freya are particularly brilliant, but even the weakest performance in Ragnarok pales in comparison to typical video game performances.

The excellent moment-to-moment writing outweighs the already brilliant dialogue of the 2018 game. Ragnarok is, unsurprisingly, the funniest god of war ever. Kratos is the toughest, straight man of all the nine realms and he surrounds himself with obscene dwarves, a wise head rump, the sometimes over-confident teenager, and more. I often laughed when Sindri offered her food, or when she shared a dismissive grunt, when characters mocked her for only offering to be rejected forever.

As important as the story of this new age of God of War has become, the war remains an important element. The most negative thing about fighting the various enemies from the Nine Realms is that it doesn’t fundamentally differ or change from the previous game. You start out with more weapons this time around, but the core combos are mostly the same. The library of special attacks you can perform is large, but I’ll admit that I found my favorites early and wasn’t particularly forced to experiment.

On the other hand, the types of enemies you fight are greatly expanded. The mini bosses are numerous, and when they repeat, a new wrinkle is usually added, or it’s a completely optional quest. Optional content, which is much more than just extra boss fights, makes up a large percentage of the already massive game. As well as leading up next to the main path, there are also large open areas to be explored at your leisure with sled dogs that provide meaningful moments of character development and tangible rewards. In some cases, I ended up with side stories with big, important moments and only learned they were optional afterward.

Ragnarok, despite its spectacular setting, holds up thanks to its stellar performances and fully realized characters, but it’s not afraid to be a fun video game. The puzzles expertly mix up the pace between combat encounters, and I was consistently impressed by how the story context always seemed to engage in video game parts. For example, while ignoring the main task of finding treasure chests, Atreus always takes the time to explain to new characters that his father loves loot. Despite the urgency of the story, Mimir often makes sure to tell that we can take our time and explore if we so desire. These little moments and bits of dialogue Sony Santa Monica perfectly understand how its players want to interact with its games, and I was forever grateful for that understanding.

Every moment extends to exceptional level design with the player in mind. Whether visiting new versions of old places or completely new areas, each area wraps in itself to reveal shortcuts, or skip the need to step back. The well-designed battlefields feature multiple levels to fight over environmental attack options, such as flying over a particularly strange lizard to grab a giant rock. Even the way the player camera points at alternate chests or teases new paths is impressive and consistent. The direction of the players is always considered.

God of War Ragnarok feels a lot like God of War (2018), which is a compliment considering how great the game is. Sony Santa Monica was right not to break what wasn’t broken and has skillfully continued the thread of the story that was left hanging from the previous game. Any complaints about the overall experience (the familiar combat, equipment collecting and leveling up isn’t particularly interesting) are quickly forgotten in the face of compelling narrative, believable character relationships, and incredible visuals and animation. Even from its early PlayStation 2 days, the God of War series has always set a high, quality bar for itself, and with a few exceptions, it manages to leap above that bar. Ragnarok, the god of war, is no different.

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