God of War is a third person action adventure game. You play as Kratos immediately following the death of his wife Faye. With your son Atreus, you set out to fulfill Faye's dying wish of having her ashes scattered from the highest peak in the land.
Pro Encourages exploration
While there's still a linear story to follow, there are plenty of optional side areas that you will have to discover on your own. While your son Atreus may point out a few of them, most are found via thorough exploration of your surroundings or taking on side quests. By traveling off the beaten path and straying away from the main storyline, you'll find collectibles, treasure chests, challenging enemies, and various loot, so it's always rewarding to poke around and seek out the secrets.
Pro Great graphics
This is one of the best looking PS4 games to date, and really sets a benchmark. It truly pushes the hardware to its limits and showcases what the system can do.
The Norse-inspired landscape of rolling mountains and grassy valleys is breathtakingly beautiful featuring realistic textures and shadows. Every rock and blade of grass is done in exquisite detail. The sky and water are photo realistic. Sometimes just standing and looking at the mountain peaks in the distance can provide a sense of awe. Even the leather and fur on armor looks and reacts realistically during movement.
From the textures, character models, and everything in between - it's hard to find a better looking game on any system.
Pro Super enjoyable combat
Combat is just plain enjoyable and fun. Hacking and slashing with the axe feels brutal and impactful. Watching an enemy being cut in two in a bloody splash or staggering backwards emphasizes the power in your swings. Throwing your axe and having it boomerang back to you also never gets old. Blocking with the shield at just the right time provides some strategic elements. Unleashing special moves feels great since they reward careful timing as opposed to just mashing buttons. Atreus, your son, fights alongside you stunning and shooting enemies, and is way more of a boon than a hindrance that has to be micromanaged. God of War also sheds the cumbersome quicktime events from previous games in the series. Now you just press 1 button to unleash bloody and bone crushing finishing moves.
Pro Highly immersive thanks to attention to small details
There are a lot of small details in God of War that help add to it's immersive atmosphere. For example, when traveling with Atreus and you stop too long to admire the view, he will start complaining about how bored he is. Snowflakes will actually stick to armor when in a snowy environment. Flames on candles blow and move based on the breeze. NPCs rarely ever repeat the same lines. When looking at Kratos, you can see every vein on his muscled arms. All of these small details add up making the game world feel like a living, breathing place.
Pro Engaging father-son dynamic that ties into the gameplay
The dynamic between Kratos and his son Atreus is not only for plot purposes, as it also ties incredibly well into the combat and gameplay itself.
Atreus fights alonside Kratos in battle shooting his bow at enemies and occasionally stunning them. However, like a son obeying his father, will only unleash his most powerful attacks when you order him to do so. Weaving his shots and runic ability in with your own attacks creates a great synergy between the two in combat, and helps to emphasize their relationship as a father and son team.
While Kratos may be the protective father and leading the charge, he also learns a few things from the boy during their journey. During exploration, Atreus will often point out side paths you have may have missed. Additionally, Atreus is the only one who can read the many Norse mythology and lore runes scattered around the game world. All of these gameplay elements combined help to constantly reinforce the dynamic between the pair.
Pro Seamless, immersive camera work
God of War is played from start to finish as one continuous camera shot without interruption. Every single frame features Kratos, so it's easy to stay intimately wrapped up in his state of mind and emotions at all times. Through moments of grief, silence, and anger - you are with him for all of it.
Certain game mechanics cleverly use this camera work to their advantage. For example, fast travel around the game world is handled through the seamless camera trick of stepping through a gateway as if it's a door.
Unless you die, there isn't a single loading screen. This continuous shot with an unwavering focus ensures you are fully immersed in the character and story at all times.
Pro The Leviathian Axe is just a downright fun and satisfying weapon
Slicing through enemies and throwing your ice-imbued Leviathan Axe around never gets old. It starts off with a basic light and heavy attack, but as the game goes on, you'll be constantly upgrading it with new and improved powers by killing bosses.
One of the most satisfying aspects is throwing it like a boomerang. It sails through the air as it cuts up enemies, and then with a 2nd button tap you can recall it back into your outstretched hand as your controller gently rumbles. If you line it up properly, you can even throw it in your foe's face for a bloody headshot.
This throw effect is not only used for combat, but also for environmental puzzles and smashing obstacles. Even with no enemies in sight, it still remains fun to just toss it around and see what you can smash with it.
Con Block and Runics use the same button
The same button used to block enemy attacks is also used to activate some special moves called Runics. Sometimes a mixup in the heat of combat can cause a Runic to go off by accident. It's not the end of the world, but it will force you to wait for the cooldown before you can use it again.