Developer: Santa Monica Studios
Publisher: Sony Playstation
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available on: PS4
Release Date: November 9th 2022
Price: $95 - Amazon
In case you've been living under a rock, God of War Ragnarok is the follow up game from Santa Monica Studios in the God of War franchise. Rated as one of the best games of the last generation God of war has racked up almost 23 million players and countless awards. In fact it's a game that I personally regard as arguably the best game of the PS4 era. So it's no surprise that the follow up has been one of the most hyped games of all time.
Of course when the game was announced I was immediately going to play it, but thanks to Playstation Australia, I got to play it a week or so early so here I am ahead of its release to tell you my thoughts. Now of course I don't want to come out here and tell you how I feel about a game I haven't finished, so this review is a work in progress that will be updated later on if my thoughts or feelings change.
This first impressions review is spoiler free!
The story in God of War Ragnarok picks up a few years after that of the previous game, some time has passed and not a lot has changed. Kratos and Atreus have been living their lives somewhat peacefully in their home with their old pal Mimir. The story I feel is, much like the last game, a bit of a slow burn, but when it gets going it's probably just as immersive and enthralling as last time out. The characters both new and old are extremely relatable and likeable, each has their own quirks and back story and each is very important to the storytelling in their own way. I do feel that if you have not played the 2018 God of war game, then jumping into this might be a mistake. The story relies heavily on players having played the previous title to know what went on. There is a recap of the original available from the title screen, however again, I feel like this serves as more of a reminder for returning players than an in depth history that new players would be able to follow. Basically, go back and play god of war, then come back to this if you haven't ever played the original. Atreus is no longer the boy he once was and is in my opinion, one of the best and most frustrating characters and stories in this game. A very large part of the main story, at least as far as I am into the game so far, revolved around him and Kratos is more of a controllable companion than the leader this time round.
Graphically, the game looks fantastic. Probably not quite as “industry leading” as I had expected, however they are still very good. What I mean by that is, God of War (2018) was absolutely the best looking game you could buy when it was released. Nothing even came close to just how good it looked at the time. However, God of War Ragnarok is only “technically” a step up on that and visibly is almost identical for my mind. The only real difference that I can see is the boost in FPS in Performance mode. That and a much improved draw distance giving the feeling of much bigger environments.
The gameplay is great, it was great last time out, and it's pretty much the same this time round. The combat admittedly does get a little boring, especially in the early stages of the game before you unlock different attacks etc, until then it's very much hack and slash, killing largely the same enemies every time. The movement feels a lot more fluid this time round and new mechanics allow you to interact with the environment more than ever. This leads to a largely similar yet oddly satisfying gameplay loop that if you liked the first, you'll love this time around.
The environments and level designs are epic, much like before but somehow on a grander scale these levels/areas are so very cleverly designed that you must complete one section before moving on to the next a lot of the time while still being and feeling like a largely open world. The intricacies of each are honestly mind blowing and will have you wanting to check out every single area before moving on to the next. It's for this reason that this is only a review in progress and not a complete review. Which I think speaks volumes for just how engrossing this game truly is.
Overall, I’m definitely not as far as I’d like to be through this one to be writing a conclusive review, but that's only because while I can usually speed my way through the games I need to review to experience as much as possible. I have found myself methodically plodding my way through this one and enjoying every bit of the story, the action and the looting. It, just like the first, is pretty much a masterpiece that you'll want to savor throughout. While it's not quite a step up over the previous title, it builds on God of Wars already pretty incredible foundations and results in one of the best games in quite a while. It's early for me to say until I've completed it, but for me, God of War Ragnarok, is my choice for Game of The Year 2022.