With Gameplay Cafè we have worked hard to be ready today, at the expiration of the embargo of one of the most anticipated titles by PlayStation 4 owners: we did it!
God of War is finally here and, net of the breakups of day one that more and more mitigate that wonderful feeling of playing it all together, this review will be free of particular spoilers: I would not want to unleash your fury of Sparta and see you under the house with pitchforks, or even better with axes similar to that of the protagonist.
No more chatter, two years have passed since the official announcement, twenty-four months full of speculation about the new Norse setting and the changes made to the gameplay (☕️) by Sony Santa Monica.
Well, there is much more coherence than it may initially seem compared to the predecessors, both from a narrative point of view and not. God of War is a new beginning for an old friend, something more mature but at the same time familiar, who knows how to change the cards when he wants.
And yes, it has become an Action RPG, but not one with dozens of side missions serving as a filler; it reminded me of adventures with a great sense of progression such as Soul Reaver and Darksiders, even The Legend of Zelda before Breath of the Wild.
The absence of the jump is missing as it can be in a Gears of War - or rather in terms of the proposed gameplay - the new type of view offers a more intimate contact with Kratos and his kills, the way to face the opponents changes among the first jokes of the adventure, the advanced ones and the concluding ones.
But let's take a step back, looking into the context of the new Santa Monica production.
Kratos and Atreus inevitably find themselves having to leave the place where they live, to embark on an epic adventure dominated by Nordic mythology, among legends linked to Odin, glaciers, lakes and dreamlike, almost fairytale-like places.
A complicated father-son relationship, in which Kratos' character is familiar: gruff, resolute, regardless of the context and the world, with which he interacts only to survive and get what he needs; always inclined to hide some suffering, well rooted in his mind.
Atreus is a determined but naive, curious boy, able to read the magical runes that tell the story of this world. He still does not exactly distinguish good from evil, good from bad, always ready to help the unknown characters he meets along the way.
Fortunately, the boy will not bore your existence by constantly talking inappropriately or becoming a burden for Kratos. Indeed, the relationship between the two constantly evolves, not only from the relational point of view, but also with respect to the actual gameplay. Atreus, in fact, manages to use his bow and physical qualities with increasing effectiveness, often and willingly independently, because there is no direct control beyond the use of the square button, to ask him to shoot the arrows. in the ideal direction.
Where, therefore, Atreus will initially limit himself to distracting the enemies and to be often and willingly helpless, continuing he will jump on their backs to stop their attacks, or he will warn Kratos of the threatening blows that come from behind. Always without exaggerating, always without making the events obvious or unbalanced, but rather fully following that progression of which I have already spoken above.
In this respect it is evident that Santa Monica went to school at Naughty Dog: the narration takes all the time necessary to guarantee a sense of discovery and exploration, supported by the long crossings that convey the idea of the passage from a plain to a mountain, from one setting to the next. Long dialogues the right, which make it easier to understand what is happening or to deepen a certain character.
There is a lot of care for the important elements but also for the details; the developers have left nothing to chance and this certainly benefits the game world design and everything that can be done within the Santa Monica production.
Atreus often and willingly makes statements contextualized to what is happening, even in unpredictable cases. I'll give you an example: at a certain point I had to activate a device by pressing the button, after having hooked it up; Since I had stopped for a moment to do my own thing, Atreus started a conversation about Kratos with another character, who exclaimed: "But don't you listen to me?" and Atreus "He does so every now and then."
Italian dubbing is definitely above the average we are used to; Pierluigi Astore has an initially unsettling tone of voice for those accustomed to the other chapters, but in reality his serious, staid, "mature" tone, in the end, is apt for the epic that faces the main protagonist. The voice of Atreus, behind which Leonardo della Bianca is hiding, is young but does not sound annoying, except when the boy questions his father, who in turn silences him with a few effective words.
But back to the gameplay: the ax of Kratos, the Leviathan, is the absolute protagonist; it can be launched by aiming with L2 and using R1 or R2 and as the character grows, it will take on additional functions. With the triangle button it is possible to recall it with an animation that fully returns the power of this weapon and of Kratos, who can also fight with his bare hands always with the same right backbones.
Double pressing the X key activates dodging, L1 the shield, which if used at the right time allows you to deflect (almost) all opponent attacks. When used in conjunction with the circle and the right backbones, it allows you to use a series of additional skills, which have a cooldown time.
Running with a lot of final jump to the loaded throw of the ax, passing through holds, area attacks and specific, the combat system of God of War is actually well articulated, eschewing merciless comparisons towards the simplicity of those offered for example by Hellblade or Ryse.
As the adventure continues, you access advanced skills and combinations, with several enemies on the screen attacking simultaneously and having a non-trivial sample of moves.
And then you have fun ringing attacks, exploiting Kratos' abilities, throwing the ax and then throwing yourself into the fray, exploiting Atreus for additional solutions, avoiding fire, poisonous, ice, lightning attacks, very common elements in Nordic mythology. .
The first boss fight is spectacular, surprisingly fluid and dynamic in spite of the static appearance of the combat system; the variety of opponents is there, and how.
There are also many so-called mid-bosses, but surely this is the aspect that fails to reach the magnificence of a God of War III, who literally shot an impressive array of Olympian baddies in your face to engage you in spectacular combat. This chapter is also full of them, mind you, above all two or three wonderful occasions for showmanship and screenplay. Those in the middle alternate between the classic and the satisfying, however, also because the adventure is more full-bodied and multifaceted, diluting these parts compared to the previous chapters.
We are therefore on a qualitatively inferior - but not negative - step! - while it is exploration that offers the most marked difference.
A difference which, however, can easily be interpreted as an evolution for the God of War series, a change from my point of view absolutely understandable also because the formula had probably come to an end for modern times.
It takes well over twenty hours to complete the game, more than thirty if you complete all the available activities. In fact, there are things to do and discover after the main story ends. When you reach certain settings, you can decide whether to continue straight on your journey or explore side sections, which lead to sanctuaries, secondary missions that delve into Norse mythology, treasures to discover, additional equipment. Never anything trivial, never fillers.
There is no lack of environmental puzzles: nothing too complex but sometimes you have to study the setting well, sometimes use your ax in a "creative" way to unlock the passage or access chests that can offer advantageous loot.
The challenge is well balanced, starting from the second of the four difficulty levels available. Furthermore, as a good action RPG, there are areas and optional passages for which the degree of strength of the enemies is higher than Kratos, and a couple of well-aimed shots are enough to send him to the ground.
Rest assured, the progression does not expect the protagonist to reach level 99 with dozens of stats included.
After just over ten hours, for example, the Kratos in my game was at level 3, derived from the sum of the characteristics of the equipment and the skills in one's possession.
The growth is therefore not the classic role-playing one, but is always calibrated on the adventure of Kratos, who acquires new abilities from the runes, can enhance his Leviathan from some characters and can come into possession of an unprecedented equipment that increases it the physical characteristics. The experience points gained, on the other hand, are used to learn the available skills.
Hence the comparison more with Darksiders and Soul Reaver than with other canonical Action RPGs: it's all deliberately reasoned but not without frenetic moments. Progression in the service of storytelling and adventure, not statistics and numbers.
Graphically, the epic of Kratos and Atreus is perfectly represented, with settings that are lost in sight, imposing structures and excellent visual variety. The camera does its job very well, the attention to detail is also found on the textures and in some elements, if we want secondary ones. They lack that graphic cleanliness or the animations of Uncharted 4, even the incredible glimpses of the previous chapters - also for the close-up view and the "free" camera - but we are certainly at very high levels compared to a console production.
The realization of Kratos is excellent, both from the polygonal point of view and of detail and manages to amplify the charisma of the character, evident in all its facets. Atreus is less impressive but equally well done. The developers have indulged themselves from an artistic point of view in the transposition of the Nordic mythology, with bright or dull colors depending on the case, light effects of great impact, well-characterized and diversified opponents.
Between the performance mode that unlocks the framerate above thirty frames per second (rarely to sixty), and the one that increases the resolution up to 4K checkerboard (or supersampling on 1080p TV) I chose the second, preferred for the greater detail, net of some shooting or failure not particularly annoying. HDR support is the usual icing on the cake that can enhance the lighting system.
The soundtrack is the main element that excited me while I was watching the announcement of the game live, during E3 in Los Angeles in 2016. It is of great value and suitable for cadencing both the setting changes and the topical moments. , accompanying exploration with that genuine sense of discovery.USEFUL INFO
I played God of War on PlayStation 4 Pro and two different accounts to use multiple save slots for gameplay capture purposes. What is not done for a video review?Duration
- 20-25 hours if you dedicate yourself mainly to the main story, 30-35 hours with secondary missions and end game content.
- Third person adventure with RPG elements such as skills and equipment and levels
- Four difficulty levels, available immediately
- PlayStation 4 Pro support with mode that unlocks the framerate at 1080p (between 30 and 60fps) or which favors a 4K resolution checkerboard at 30fps, in supersampling on 1080p TVs
- HDR support
- Dubbing and subtitles in Italian
- Runes to decipher, artifacts to sell, enhancement items for Kratos
- No New Game Plus, but it is possible to continue playing after the end of the main story, even with unreleased content that I don't tell you for spoiler reasons
- Game Name: God of War
- Release date: April 20 2018
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Dubbing language: Italian
- Texts language: Italian
God of War is the sequel that could and should have had the saga created by Sony Santa Monica. It's a modern and exciting title; a wonderful adventure rarely equal to itself, able to convey to the player section after section a sense of discovery, travel and curiosity towards the evolution of the relationship between Kratos and Atreus. Something in some ways unexpected, which makes you experience something unexpected firsthand but so able to put you at ease.
Of course, after the third chapter the absence of some more spectacular bosses is missing and the rhythms are more reasoned than those we are used to, but overall God of War offers much more in terms of content and narrative twists, a title still in short, in step with our times, which has been able to evolve.
Only the extremists anchored to the original series will make more articulate complaints, probably not contextualizing its dynamics to date; from my point of view Santa Monica set the stage for a fantastic new gaming epic that made the most of a saga that was important to many generations of gamers.
Kratos is a lot of stuff, the visual variety is important, in general a great overall impact especially as regards the polygonal size. There are no spikes offered for example by an Uncharted 4.
SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM
Dubbing in Italian above average, epic soundtrack and perfectly able to accompany what you see on the screen.
Storytelling, exploration, discovery, action. God of War makes the most of all these aspects, offering a grand and fulfilling game world design. Fights much more fluid and dynamic than you think, some bosses are memorable but overall there is no offer in this sense like that of the third chapter, otherwise an even higher rating.