Developer: Sony Santa Monica
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PS4 [reviewed], PS4 Pro
Released: April 20, 2018
Copy supplied by publisher
Rebooting a series is always a risky proposition, as you risk alienating fans if the new version is too different from what came before. Such is the case with God of War, which has been a key franchise in Sony’s stable ever since David Jaffe’s original set a new standard for cinematic action gaming on the PlayStation 2 back in 2005. While the franchise would go onto become one of the most critically-revered in gaming thanks to a string of impressive sequels, including two remarkably good outings on the PlayStation Portable, it was clear by the time 2013’s God of War Ascension hit that developer Sony Santa Monica was running out of ideas and that the series’ focus on sadistic violence and misogynistic themes was no longer in keeping with the direction the industry – and the culture as a whole – was headed.
Five years later, Sony Santa Monica and returning God of War II game director Cory Barlog are back with a new vision for the franchise that sees the backdrop shifted from Greek mythology to Norse and a sweeping host of changes to everything from gameplay to storytelling and characterization. As a result, the studio has delivered a game that is nothing short of remarkable, as God of War for the PlayStation 4 is not just a crowning achievement of technical excellence but one that engages with the series’ own bloody history with a degree of poise and nuance that goes beyond what I would have thought possible from a God of War title. And it all stems from turning Kratos into a family man.