In this 6th installment of the God of War saga you play as Kratos, long before his battle with the gods, or the titans. Here he struggles with the memories of his past, as he is hunted by the Furies.
Have you played a God of War game before? You have, then gameplay wise nothing much has changed. Certainly you have some new magic abilities, and you can pick up weapons from the ground. But the core of the GOW games is still there. Racking up massive kill counts and taking down big enemies with brutal finishers.
Whilst the game can be completed in around 8 hours on normal difficulty, the biggest issue is not with the combat, in fact I don’t recall dying once in combat. But the platforming. Kratos can now grab onto all manner of environments with the Blades of Chaos and swing around like Lara Croft. And the game also highlights where you can climb, just like Nathan Drake. The problem is, these parts of the game are so quicktime heavy that it makes it hard to judge things for yourself.
When sliding down, a lot of tunnels, as a player I could clearly see the places where I would need to jump, but the game does not let you do it, until you’re prompted by the game. And the same can be applied to the hooking onto things. You can’t do it unless the game says you can.
Adding some variety into the game are the items you collect. The Amulet of Uroborus, The Oath Stone of Orkos and The Eyes of Aletheia, allow you to repair or destroy parts of the world, hold a switch with a shadowself and even destroy Dark Magic barriers created by the Furries. Each item does provide new options, but they only allow for use at certain points.
God of War has always looked a certain way. Using Greek Mythology as a basis, means the developers can draw from a massive array of creature and locations designs. But save for the design of the Furries, the rest seems like a repeat of past games.
I know what you’re going to say, yes there is only so much they can do, I mean how many times can you see the same Greek buildings, but when the team get things right, Hecatonchires being a prime example of it, it’s simply amazing. The other areas of the games, whilst also on a grand scale, feature nothing different from past games.
Of course, the game does look amazing. When you land at Delos, you are greeted by a massive, crumbling statue of Apollo, and the scale alone can make you feel small. It’s in these moments, you can feel the intent of the design, and not be awed by the look of the game. It’s a shame that overall, these moments are few and far between.
Sound in the God of War games has always achieved a great level of detail. From the score that permeates the entire game, to the sounds of the various creatures. For example, how do you determine what sounds a Chimera should make? Being part Lion, Goat and Snake, it would be easy to add all three and call it a day.
But the team at Sony, have gotten the knack down for coming up with some surreal and amazing sounds.
Each enemy sounds real, and the combat feels fast paced and solid. Each hit that you land you are treated to a visual feast for the ears and this helps draw you into the world. Of course the music is the key area of this draw. When you enter a new grand area, the score comes alive and helps sell the grand scale of what you are seeing. Each time you encounter a new boss creature or a pivotal moment of the game, the score is right there, showing you the way.
Whilst Kratos emits the same grunts and groans he has for many games now, it is the cutscenes where he can show his growth as a character. I do believe that in the first game, he was as plain as could be, but here you see the pain he is in, and the challenges he overcomes. And hearing him express his pain and desires in words merely shows that Kratos is as real as anyone.
God of War – Ascension is a game limited by the previous games, but also hampered by the lack of imagination. The game has some truly epic moments, and there are times when you will be so invested in what happens you can suspend your disbelief at what you see as something that might have existed and simply enjoy the game. However, these moments are few and far between, and this is where it suffers.
Attempting to do a prequel to a story and put the hero in danger when we all know he survives is a challenge, and one that the team at Sony Santa Monica could not meet. Whilst you will get some great joy out of the game, multiplayer included, this act of Kratos’ story is one best left to the Odysseys of Greek Legend.