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Let me start by saying that I've never played a God of War game before this, so that will affect my perception of the game. Nor do I plan to play the earlier games (although the series director says he has 5 sequels he wants to make, so I might check those out whenever they release).
I have mixed feelings toward beat-em-ups and puzzles. Mindlessly hacking your way through enemies can be fun, but Button Mashing gets old after a while, and I have trouble remembering combos in the heat of battle. Puzzles can be rewarding when you figure them out, but when you can't, instead spending 20 minutes in one spot trying to figure out what to do, they lose their appeal. But that's just me.
Of course, the gameplay does require a certain level of skill. And that's just fine. The combat has been well-refined — you'll need to use your head if you want to survive.
What you'll really remember are the story and characters. My research has led me to believe that the story of the old GOW games can be summed up as "Kratos angrily murders the Greek pantheon." Fast forward to the present game, and Kratos is still haunted by the ghosts of his past, and carries many of his old prejudices; however, he genuinely wants to get rid of the skeletons in his closet, if only to be a good father to his son Atreus (whom he genuinely loves, even if he has trouble showing it). There are moments throughout the game which will emit powerful emotional reactions inside you. You'll feel joy. Anger. Fear. Sadness — the Cerebus Rollercoaster is in full effect here. And stories that can pull that off successfully tend to be my favourites. My favourite quote in the game is (paraphrased) "A warrior's strength comes from his heart...but only when tempered with thisnote Kratos points to his son's head"
It's not Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game — the gameplay is too well-designed for that — but the story is the best part of the experience.
Funnily enough, this isn't the first God of War game to try and make Kratos sympathetic. Chains of Olympus, Ghost of Sparta, and Ascension all tried to the same thing. Emphasis on the word, tried. The prequel/interquel games seem to set two sides to Kratos, the borderline-villain anti-hero and the peerless protector. Kratos unconditionally loves Calliope, yet there is no justification as to why this is other than she is his daughter. It makes sense that he would have more conflict with Atreus because Kratos was raised in a military patriarchy that demanded its boys to be strong to survive. At the same time he doesn't want his son to become a callous murderer like himself. However, Calliope was sickly (a trait that disgusted Spartan society so much they often cull their offspring) and passive (women didn't fight, but they were raised to be aggressive) which leads me to wonder why pre-Deal-with-the-Devil Kratos was such a family man.
A similar case could be made for Orthos, the son of Alecto. He's a weak beta male that is a poet and philosopher. Given that Kratos killed a sea captain for the crime of failing to outrun a sea monster, the man's heritage alone is more than enough justification to kill him, never mind he had the attitude of an Athenian, a society Sparta actively hated. Yet Kratos protects him all the same and legitimately feels bad when Orthos asks Kratos to kill him.
My point is that God of War (2018) made Kratos sympathetic, but it did so in a gradual and realistic way. Kratos maintains a strict, disciplined, and functionalist attitude that makes being around him initially rather off-putting, but his interactions with Atreus challenge him to open his mind to new perspectives. In turn, Kratos tries to walk the line of trying to raise his son to be strong, but not conceited and psychopathic like he was.One of my favorite parts of the game is when Atreus asks Kratos to tell him a story, and Kratos tells him various fables that were implied to come from Aesop himself. The stories are summarized rather bluntly, but they allude to Kratos's past mistakes, showing a genuine desire to raise his son to be better than himself.
In fairness to the sea captain, he ALSO abandoned the women on the boat to be eaten by the sea monster, so he wasn\'t exactly a sympathetic man.
I actually didn\'t mind Orkos: Orkos went out of his way to help Kratos, even saving him at one point when the furies have him dead to rights. Kratos would have been appreciative. As for why he likes Calliope.....she\'s still his child. That he loved her was very much in the first game as well.
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