2022 has brought with it some exceptional video games, with the likes of Elden Ring, Gran Turismo 7, Horizon: Forbidden West, and Bayonetta 3 stealing the show in the AAA landscape, and indie releases like Immortality, Cuphead in the Delicious Last Course, and Neon White showcasing the brilliant talent of smaller teams. There has been something for everyone, and whilst it has seen a lot of delays too, it has been a strong year for gaming as a whole. And now, leading up to the year’s end, we have God of War: Ragnarok.
Not only is God of War: Ragnarok one of the best games to release this year, it’s also one of the best games EVER. It takes everything that was amazing in the original game and ups the ante, with the storytelling, gameplay, and visuals all standing out as some of the finest seen throughout gaming.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Taking place after the events of the previous game, God of War: Ragnarok sees Kratos and Atreus dealing with the after-effects of their conflict with Baldur and the ripple that they’ve left throughout the Norse realms. Whilst Kratos tries to keep them out of the firing line of the gods, Atreus is eager to learn more about who he is and what his mother had intended for him before she passed away. A destructive encounter with Odin and Thor strengthens this desire, and after convincing Kratos that the Norse God of War Tyr might still be alive and have answers for them, they venture out on a journey to find him.
What follows is a gripping realm-hopping adventure that’ll keep players utterly engrossed in the narrative until the very last moments. God of War: Ragnarok starts off with a bang, but that excitement and intrigue is sustained throughout the entirety of the roughly thirty-hour adventure. It’s full of surprises and emotional plights, with the story taking plenty of twists-and-turns that will keep players guessing, whilst the return of some familiar faces gives a sense of warmth after spending hours with them in the first game (and yes, that includes Freya, who wants nothing more than to kill Kratos).
It is all brought to life by some outstanding voice acting that captures the essence of each character perfectly, with some big personalities on show throughout the game. Two personal favourites were Thor and Odin, with Thor as menacing and destructive as you’d expect and Odin more vicious and conniving. I don’t want to head into spoiler territory in this review, but just expect some of the game’s more memorable scenes to involve one of those pair in some shape or form. At the same time, the moments of humour that Mimir, Brok, or Sindri bring during the more light-hearted moments ease the tension, whilst Kratos’ reaction to certain questions from Atreus will bring a smile to player’s faces too. It is easy to associate the God of War name with anger and brutality, but God of War: Ragnarok acts as a perfect reminder that there’s so much more to the world and its characters than pure rage.
It’s hard to say what makes God of War: Ragnarok’s narrative so damn good without spoiling much, so just believe me when I say that it offers some of the finest storytelling in gaming. I found myself fully invested in the characters and the world, whilst seeing how they’ve grown between games and how they want the best for each other was incredibly emotional at times too. It’s just brilliant and without a doubt one of the most memorable stories I’ve seen in any video game.
“It’s simply a ground-breaking game and one that I don’t think anything else will match for some time, with every facet of its design flawlessly delivered to ensure it stands out as perhaps the greatest game to hit a PlayStation console.”
I’d be lying if I said a lot had changed when it comes to the gameplay, because a lot of God of War: Ragnarok will be familiar to those that played the previous game. You’ll still venture across a myriad of stunning locales, all whilst slaying any enemies in your path with your Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos, solving puzzles through a variety of means, and gathering any loot or collectibles you can find. That sense of familiarity isn’t a bad thing though, especially since the first game was SO good. Why fix what isn’t broken? It’s a mantra that’s fully embraced here and it helps make God of War: Ragnarok a blast to play.
That’s not to say there haven’t been improvements though, with combat and combos feeling more free-flowing (especially when alternating between the Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos on the fly). Some newly introduced moves also make Kratos more versatile on the battlefield – these moves can have minor improvements made to them the more you use them too, bringing an extra element of flexibility to Kratos’ build to suit each player’s playstyle. You’ll unlock more gear to help out in combat or when solving puzzles on the adventure too, whilst the variety and hazards brought with the foes you face off against mean you have to be extra strategic in combat (especially on those higher difficulties). Combat just feels brilliant, whilst the other little extras like parrying attacks, using runic attacks, or simply launching your Leviathan Axe across the battlefield and having it fly back to is ALWAYS exciting. Whilst there haven’t been a lot of changes made to the main gameplay flow in God of War: Ragnarok, there have been plenty of refinements to ensure it feels even better than before.
I haven’t even mentioned the boss fights which are some of the most action-packed and brutal seen across the entire God of War series, whilst the puzzles feel more varied than the game’s predecessor thanks to some clever new mechanics. The plethora of side content gives players plenty to dive into outside of the main story too, with some offering some truly memorable moments that could easily be missed if you don’t take your time to explore the world. Everything feels like it strengthens the narrative or the player’s connection with the different characters of the world in some shape or form, whilst the rewards for completing them is worthwhile. Add to that the lore that can be gathered via collectibles (including some creative poems that reference other PlayStation titles) and you’ll certainly appreciate the sense of discovery that the game offers.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Everything is complemented by the game’s wonderful presentation, with God of War: Ragnarok embracing the power of the PlayStation 5 to offer some outstanding visuals. The character models are rich with detail and animated fluidly, the world itself is diverse and full of magnificent sights, whilst the action-packed cutscenes are eye-catching and full of visuals effects that continually blew me away. The original game was already beautiful, but you can see how things have been taken to the next level this time around. Screenshots don’t do it justice… you need to see it in motion.
There was one minor issue I had with the presentation: having to choose between a 4K resolution or 60fps frame rate. Whilst this is common these days, I was hoping we’d be able to get the best of both to see just how good the game can look and feel to play. Whilst it’ll come down to personal preference what you choose, it’s a shame that we still have to pick one or the other.
It’s a small complaint in what is otherwise a sublime experience. I’ve found it difficult to put my feelings about God of War: Ragnarok into words, because honestly, it’s been an unforgettable experience that I want to say EVERYTHING about. I just don’t want to spoil anything in this review, whether it’s a story twist, an exciting set piece, or just some visual marvel I saw during my adventure. It’s simply a ground-breaking game and one that I don’t think anything else will match for some time, with every facet of its design flawlessly delivered to ensure it stands out as perhaps the greatest game to hit a PlayStation console.
God of War: Ragnarok Review
God of War: Ragnarok is a masterpiece, with the gripping storytelling, flawless gameplay, and beautiful visuals ensuring it stands out as one of the best games ever made. You need to believe the hype on this one because the game truly does deliver in every facet of its design, with the game even surpassing the incredibly high standard set by its predecessor. I don’t want to say too much because it’s something that’s better to be experienced first-hand, so just trust me when I say that you NEED to play this unforgettable gaming spectacle.
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: PlayStation Studios
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4