The early God Of War reviews are in – and they are close to unanimous in identifying the game as something a bit special.
A sequel-come-reimagining of the God Of War series, it’s a third-person action-adventure game in which you lead titular deity Kratos through battles with the monsters and gods from Norse mythology.
It’s a change of pace for the series – for one thing Kratos now has a child to look after – and one that has impressed critics across the board.
Polygon reviewer Chris Plante praised the new levels of depth for the series offered by the relationship between Kratos and his son Atreus. “God of War is awesome at times, in the true sense of the word, but its heart lives in the small ways this man and this boy are building and unbuilding their relationship,” he wrote.
He gave the game a perfect 10, adding: “Some die-hard fans may fear this isn’t really God Of War. I suppose they’re right. It’s even better.”
Jonathon Dornbush, writing for IGN, picked out the sense of adventure and discovery created by the game’s “vibrant, fascinating world packed to the brim with secrets”.
Also dishing out a perfect score of 10 and describing the game as a “masterpiece”, Dornbush said: “God Of War is a masterful composition of exceptional interlocking parts, deliberate in its design and its foreshadowing, which pays off in unexpected ways in both the gameplay and story.”
In the Guardian, Keza MacDonald praised the transformation of Kratos from the “vengeful god” whose “sole character trait has been angry” in previous iterations of the series into a rounded character. “The game not only pulls this off, but turns Kratos and his son’s journey into one of the best games of recent years: a deft intertwining of relatable familial drama and awe-inspiring mythological epic,” she wrote.
She was also impressed by the “exhilaratingly brutal” combat, but added: “It is rare to play a game so accomplished in everything it sets out to do. God Of War is a standard-setter both technologically and narratively.”
Tom Hoggins in the Daily Telegraph describes the game as “thrillingly different”.
He was particularly taken by the look of the game. The rendering of Kratos himself is “staggeringly detailed”, while the landscapes are “quite extraordinary”. He wrote: “God Of War is a stupendously good-looking game, possibly the very best on console.”
Nearly all the critics praised the fact that the game plays out in a single take – “much like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman,” as Hoggins put it.
Plante said that although the feature can be “a bit stress-inducing”, it made him feel “more like a participant in the world”. He added: “As a technical achievement, the single shot is mind-bending, a never-ending ‘how did they pull this off?’ Open-world sequences seamlessly transition into cinematic showdowns into lengthy trips in the canoe — without a stutter.”
On Trusted Reviews, Brett Phipps said: “Part clever illusion, part absolute wizardry, the team has done an amazing job of maintaining the game’s flow throughout its entirety.”
Phipps sounds one of the few notes of caution among reviewers, saying: “Boss fights simply don’t have the frequency nor impact that the series is known for. In addition, the main boss encounters are too short-lived to be memorable.”
By and large though the reception was overwhelmingly positive, with many reviewers giving the game a perfect score and describing it as one of the best games in recent years – or, as Hoggins describes it, “one of the most gorgeous, spectacular and impactful blockbusters of the generation”.
God Of War is released on PS4 this month.
• High-definition display
• Traditional or portable mode
• Single or multiplayer
£279.87 save £9.92
Microsoft Xbox One + games
• Wireless controller
• Forza Horizon
• Hot Wheels DLC
£288.97 save £59.98
Sony PS4 + FIFA 18
• Wireless controller
• FIFA 18
• Great value bundle
* Prices correct at time of posting.