God of War review: is this the best game of the year?

Rebooted franchise features a new world set around Norse mythology

God of War hero Kratos returns once again in this year’s instalment
(Image credit: Sony)

One of the most eagerly anticipated games of the year – God of War hit the shops with a bang today.

It’s the first game in the exclusive PlayStation franchise to launch in over two years. Developer Sony Santa Monica wanted to completely overhaul the popular series for the 2018 instalment.

Gamers play as Kratos, the returning protagonist from the previous God of War games. Kratos has moved away from the ancient Greek-inspired worlds of the older titles to a mountainous fictional world centred around Norse mythology.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

We’ve been trialling the rebooted God of War game to see whether it lives up to the expectations of its loyal fanbase.

The Week reviews God of War

We were surprised to hear the God of War game would be a reboot to the exclusive PlayStation franchise, considering the series already has a massive fan base and a host of critically acclaimed titles.

But as soon as you put it into your PS4 and complete the installation process, you won’t be disappointed by the sweeping changes to the formula.

The series’s protagonist Kratos is still the bloodthirsty killing machine of previous entries in the franchise, but his life is more emotionally complicated than before. That’s because he’s no longer fighting his battles as a lone wolf. His son Atreus has now joined him for the adventure ahead.

The story opens shortly after the death of Atreus’s mother, whose dying wish was to have her ashes scattered at the top of the highest mountain in the land. It’s up to young Atreus and his father, Kratos, to fight their way up the mountain, and fend off mythical beasts and supernatural creatures in order to complete their quest.

The plot is a thrilling departure from the series. Kratos is both a father figure to Atreus and a teacher. Watching the pair’s relationship grow as the adventure unfolds will leave fans hooked for hours.

While the previous games were heavily inspired by Greek mythology, this year’s God of War is centred around Norse lore. Gone are the sunny temples and dank underworld of the old titles. Instead they’ve been replaced by snowy mountains and dense forests.

The development team have put huge effort into the the graphics – God of War looks stunning on both the regular PlayStation 4 and the more powerful PS4 Pro. It’s a world packed with detail but with none of the ugly graphical glitches that often plague today’s big-budget titles.

What’s really striking about the visual presentation is the lack of screen cuts. The story is one continuous shot, with not a single loading time in sight. It’s an impressive display of game design that makes the plot feel organic rather than contrived.

Meanwhile, the combat system is very different to previous games. The hack-and-slash mechanics of the older titles has been swapped for a slower, more tactical combat system.

Kratos’s weapon of choice is a gigantic magical axe, which can be swung or thrown at enemies to inflict serious damage. Once you throw his axe, it can be quickly retrieved by pressing the square button, much like Thor’s hammer in the Marvel movies.

To tackle his often massive enemies, Kratos can summon Atreus to fire arrows at his adversaries to distract them. This allows you to use one of Kratos’s heavy attacks, but be careful – most enemies retaliate within an instant.

The new combat system requires skill and a lot of patience. But it’s incredibly rewarding to beat an enemy after ten minutes’ worth of battling.

Fans are expecting God of War to be one of the biggest games of the year and the latest instalment in the franchise seems to have rewarded their two-year long wait.

Despite the plot’s occasional nods to previous entries in the series, Kratos and Atreus’s tale marks a fresh start for the God of War universe that will be just as gripping for franchise newcomers.

Even with the launch of a number of hugely popular titles this year, such as Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and Far Cry 5, God of War has emerged as the best new game of 2018 so far.

Release date and where to find it

God of War releases today exclusively for PlayStation 4. It can be ordered on Amazon for £46.

Above the standard version of the game is the collector’s edition from Game, which includes a large figurine of Kratos, but this is currently out of stock.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.