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Review

Review: God of War (PC version)

We’ve roamed the realm of Norse Gods as Kratos, the titular God of War, and his son Atreus. Here are our thoughts on the 2022 PC version of God of War.

God of War (2005) on PS2
God of War (2005) on PS2

Background

God of War was originally released for the PlayStation 4 in 2018 and was re-released for PC in January 2022. This God of War is the first version released on PC.

God of War is a hack-n-slash combat adventure series that got its start on the PlayStation 2 in 2005.

God of War II on PS2
God of War II on PS2

The previous titles were based on Greek mythology that follows a Spartan warrior named Kratos. Kratos was tricked into murdering his family by the original Greek God of War, Ares. Kratos then takes on a war of vengeance against the Olympian Gods.

This release of God of War still features Kratos but follows mostly Norse mythology with references to his past problems with the Greek Gods and adds some lite role-playing elements.

God of War III on PS3
God of War III on PS3

Until this release, the other God of War games had a fixed cinematic camera. Now the players’ viewpoint has been shifted from a far away static style to an “over the shoulder” 3rd person view, which puts the player camera much closer to Kratos himself, and tends to make the action feel more focused and intense. If you’ve played previous God of War titles, this may take some getting used to.

God of War: Mobile Edition
God of War: Mobile Edition

Several of the games in the series were released on mobile and portable platforms. There was even a text-based version for Facebook in 2018.

MAIN PLOT

You play as Kratos the “God of War”, who has a son, Atreus. The game opens with Kratos and his son Atreus (known as BOY from here on out), mourning the loss of the boy’s recently departed mother. Through gameplay and cinematic scenes, you learn that his mother’s last wish was for her ashes to be spread on a very tall mountain nearby. The game proceeds to have you (Kratos) and the boy go on a journey to take her ashes to the top of the biggest mountain in Midgard. This journey is not a simple one, and along the way, you find out much more about
the dynamic between father and son as they learn more about each other. While Kratos may come off as gruff and maybe even a touch mean at times, everything he does seems to be out of a place of love and wanting to teach the child the hard lessons of life and survival.

Kratos and Atreus
Kratos and Atreus

GAMEPLAY

We were surprised at how well the combat is dealt with in this game. Being new to the God of War series, we had no preconceived notions of what to expect, but even though we have played a lot of hack-n-slash type combat games, we were not expecting the combat to feel so fluid and impactful. Each swing and hit is felt through sound, imagery, and solid feedback. When you commit to a long, slow, but mighty swing of your axe, it feels hefty and weighted as it should. we were a little worried that situational awareness would be difficult because of the zoomed-in, over-the-shoulder view, but the game mechanics solves this with intuitive on-screen warnings, an easy switch direction button, and the boy warning you when an enemy is sneaking up behind you. Adding to the efficiency of combat is that the controls are easy to learn, even when you advance to more complex combos, defending yourself and getting to better combat positions are always kept simple.

Some may worry that having the boy with you is a burden. Far from it. The boy is of great help, especially in combat. You rarely have to assist the boy in combat, outside a few rare circumstances. He also helps direct Kratos to some hidden objects or puzzles. Consider him as an asset rather than a burden.

There are minor environmental puzzles in the game. Once we learned how to use the tools Kratos has, all the puzzles were easy to solve. They do take some out-of-the-box thinking, but as someone who is not a fan of difficult puzzle games, this game did the puzzles just right.

Situational awareness is important.
Situational awareness is important.

Another thing the game does well is leaving the exploration more open. Instead of holding your hand and telling you exactly where to go, actual directions of where to go are more of a suggestion, which leads to the player exploring the world much more fluidly than if they just had a marker saying GO STRAIGHT HERE. Doing such exploration is often rewarded with chests, loot, unique encounters and events you simply discover along the way, making the player feel like they accomplished finding something rather than the game just handing the win to them.
However, as noted in the CONS section below, this can be a double-edged sword when it comes to having to find a precise location.

God of War's world map
God of War’s world map

GRAPHICS

Graphically the game is absolutely beautiful, and we were floored at just how well it runs on even medium specification computers, even at ULTRA settings. We’ve been reviewing God of War on a 6-year-old PC with an NVIDIA 1080 and we have almost everything maxed out graphically at 1080p, and we’ve never noticed a single frame rate drop.

Gorgeous vistas are everywhere.
Gorgeous vistas are everywhere.

Amazingly, in all the hours we’ve played, we’ve never experienced a crash, which is a feat in itself with games today. We were usually streaming and had several other programs running in the background at the same time, and the game ran butter smooth. we honestly can’t remember the last time we played a game for 80+ hours and never experienced a single crash.

The game does support HDR, which, to be fair, on Windows 10 is not very well implemented. That’s not the fault of the game itself, but rather current PC monitors do not typically support high-level HDR to render it properly and Windows 10 implementation of HDR is half-baked most of the time. We ended up turning HDR off because it just felt too overblown and the default in-game lighting was already pretty good.

AUDIO

The sound in this game is also a big plus. With deep drum beats of Nordic music pumping the player up, the 3D audio cues of nearby monsters, to Kratos’s authoritative voice telling the boy for the 300th time that he needs to stop running off, nothing about the audio will leave the player lacking. Dialogue from characters in the game is convincing and feels authentic. The voice acting is very professional, with a blockbuster movie-level feeling. In most games, we tend to turn the music off, but this is one of the few times when we wanted the music playing the entire time.

STORY

After finishing the game (which clocked in at about 80 hours after completing most side quests), we were pleased with how well the story went, with many plot twists and other surprising revelations.

Most questions are answered by the end to a satisfying conclusion, while still leaving room for future titles in the series. Even with over 80 hours in the game, we still had achievements we could hunt down. You get a lot of gameplay out of this one.

As an added bonus, after completing the game, you can play the story again with NEW GAME+ mode, which allows Kratos to start with all his previous equipment.

Hours played and achievements
Hours played and achievements

PROS

  • Great graphics even in 2022 for a game made in 2018 for an older platform.
  • Not a single crash, or bug through my entire play-through.
  • Well crafted story that’s complex yet easy to understand, even if you know nothing about Greek or Norse mythology or the God of War series.
  • Audio is robust and gets you pumped to play.
  • Controls are intuitive and easy to learn, yet worthwhile to master.
  • For $49.99/€49.99/£39.99 on Steam as of March 2022, you get a full AAA game with no extra DLC or other purchases to make

CONS

  • The map needs more information or customization. It is difficult to know how many items/goals are left in the areas you are in because the map does not show this information easily, rather it shows entire region’s goals by default. To see a current areas’ completion, you must wrangle the marker to the area, all the while the map tries to auto pull the marker away from the area. You can not set custom waypoints, you can only set waypoint objectives and goals that were already shown on the map. You can not zoom in very far on maps, making knowing exactly where you are difficult. This is a plus and minus because, on one hand, it makes the player have to learn the areas visually, but on the other, it can make some side quests difficult to find, and you end up doing more back-tracking.
  • A small quibble, but sometimes Photo Mode does not allow you to control the camera or turn on/off characters, nor does it allow the camera to go very far from Kratos, even if you don’t have Kratos activated in the shot. A truly free camera in photo mode would have been ideal.
  • There are some rules and features to gameplay, that at the beginning, seem missing or not usable, but much later these features unlock. We wish the game would have been more upfront with these locked-out features. As an example, there are environmental puzzles in beginner areas that you can NOT solve until near the end of the game, yet the player would have no way to know this. We spent several hours trying to solve some puzzles that were impossible to solve until much later with different tools you do not have at the start of the game.
  • Again, this is not exactly a con, but something to note: Some enemy bosses, especially the Valkyries, can be very difficult and have unblockable attacks which can become frustrating. With enough practice and perseverance, you can defeat every boss battle. You might have to wait until you have better stats, or you just might need more experience.
A dreaded Valkyrie
A dreaded Valkyrie

FINAL VERDICT

Regardless if you are a seasoned God of War player or new to the series, we can easily recommend this game to almost everyone who likes epic stories, challenging but fair environmental puzzles and solid hack-n-slash combat. With its ability to run well on most systems, entry to the game is a welcome surprise at a time with most new game releases cost $70+ and can require up to high-end graphics cards to run well.

Title: God of War
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Original Release Date: April 20th, 2018 (PS4)
PC Release Date: January 14th, 2022

Review by:
Chunky Moe (@Chunky_Moes)

System Specs:
Intel i7-6850k
32 GB RAM
Nvidia 1080 GTX Graphics Card
Windows 10
Steam

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