‘God of War: Ragnarök’ review: When a sequel is better than what came before

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Warning: This review contains spoilers for God of War: Ragnarök. There are very few sequels that have the ability to live up to their predecessors. Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece The Godfather Part II did it in 1974, and Chris Nolan The dark knight as of 2008 it did as well. If you really think I’m comparing a video game to these movie icons, you’re right. God of War: Ragnarök It is a masterpiece of storytelling.

It could be even better than the previous installment: the critically acclaimed Game of the Year 2018. God of War reboot, of which this is a direct sequel. Some would dismiss video games as childish pursuits, but the adventures of Kratos and his son Atreus are evidence that gaming can be mature, emotionally charged, and deeply nuanced. And before you ask, yes, I was crying in the first five minutes.

Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

In God of War, the father and son duo grant his wife Faye’s wish by scattering her ashes on the highest peak in the Nine Realms. In doing so, they defeat many enemies along the way and discover a family secret, mainly that Atreus is also known as the trickster god Loki according to the prophecy. Baldur, son of Odin and Freya, is the main antagonist. He hunts down Kratos and Atreus because his father believes they are the bringers of Ragnarök, the cataclysmic end of days in Norse mythology.

We pick up the story three years after the events of God of War. After Baldur’s defeat, the world has been plunged into a long and unforgiving winter known as Fimbulwinter, the precursor to Ragnarök. Odin and Thor, Baldur’s brother and portrayed in a more unfavorable light, are now on a mission to exact revenge on Kratos for killing a member of his family, just like Freya for the murder of her son.

The best parts in God of War It wasn’t the fights, although the flow of combat in the previous game was close to perfect, it was the moments between fights that affected the most. Conversations between a stoic (sometimes disruptive) father coping with life as a single parent and his pre-teen son, who is still learning to navigate a treacherous world. “Don’t mistake my silence for a lack of pain,” he tells Atreus regarding Faye’s death. “Cry your way, leave me alone.” Beautiful dialogue like this is still at the heart of the Kratos and Atreus story, but in ragnarokthe parent-child dynamic is different.

Atreus is 14 years old, a confusing and formative age that is further complicated by the knowledge that he is a deity. A teenager with a literal god complex, yikes. This evolution in their relationship is “key” to ragnarokas game director Eric Williams explained to game radar. “That is the key to this game. In the last game, the adults were always telling Atreus what to do. Anyone ask a question and they never give you an answer,” he said, “but we wanted to be a lot more grey. Now we’re getting into Atreus saying, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s the case’ and [Kratos is] like, ‘Are you being cheeky? Or should we have a real conversation about this? As you continue to play, you’ll probably see that start to blossom a lot more.”

God of War: Ragnarok

Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Where God of War had Kratos front and center, this follow up has the two sharing the spotlight. In fact, ragnarok it feels more like Atreus’ story than his father’s and playing as him is a brilliant revelation, offering new combat mechanics that mix up your approach towards enemies. Where the fun of playing as Kratos lies in devastating melee and close combat, Atreus offers agility, speed, and ranged attacks. He’s not as satisfying as his father’s visceral rage, but from a narrative perspective, he makes a lot of sense. Now we get to experience the trials and discoveries of this father-son duo from both perspectives, and we begin to understand that while Atreus can be a jerk at times, he really is trying to do right by his father and vice versa. This also opens up the opportunity for new player-companion pairings, telling a more complete story.

From the enemy’s point of view, the problems with the first game seem resolved. The few complaints were the lack of enemy diversity and the writers at Santa Monica Studio have taken these comments into account. While undead draugr remain the game’s bread and butter, boss fights are varied and frequent enough to keep players engaged, while enemy swarms offer new opportunities for death and destruction.

When you’re not chopping enemies to pieces, there are plenty of stunning, screenshot-worthy environments to explore and ragnarok It truly is an awesome interactive adventure. Like the previous game, there are plenty of puzzles to solve with new and old mechanics to contend with. There is a lot of knowledge assumed here, it goes without saying that you need to play the previous game first.

All in all, there aren’t really many significant changes. Sequels don’t have to be innovative and revolutionary, ragnarok It’s not. That’s good. It is superior to its predecessor due to the small tweaks to improve the overall experience, nothing like that. God of War the essence has been lost. If he God of War Franchise Takes Game of the Year Award Once Again – Faces Stiff Competition at FromSoftware’s elden ringIt’s really inconsequential. God of War: Ragnarök it is a game for all ages and you should play it immediately.

God of War: Ragnarok is now available for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

God of War: Ragnarok

God of War: Ragnarok

The adventures of Kratos and Atreus continue in God of War: Ragnarökthe follow-up to the 2018 Game of the Year winner, God of War. Explore more of the Nine Realms of Norse mythology, facing enemies new and old, navigating a world on the brink of total annihilation. Ragnarok is coming, are you ready?

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