Game Ramblings #168 – God of War: Ragnarok

More Info from Sony

  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Platform: PS5
  • Also Available On: PS4

Being perfectly honest, you could read my ramblings on the previous game and have a pretty good idea where I fell on this one. This is every bit an iterative sequel instead of the revolutionary change that the previous entry was. However, that’s not to say that’s a bad thing. This definitely does a lot to clean up some rough edges in the series’ transition to action RPG, but more importantly it shows a drastic amount of growth in the characters. It’s for that reason that I wanted to get through the game.

The lack of core gameplay changes did end up with this one being a bit long in the tooth. Combat felt like it reached a point towards the end of the game where they kind of just ran out of ideas and started throwing more targets at you, which wasn’t particularly fun. Side quests started to get a bit samey, which meant that I was doing them purely for rewards instead of any narrative enjoyment. Despite having a lot more environments to wander through than the original game, I just kind of felt like I was at my limit. That’s the curse of sequels I guess. You’re going to have to be somewhat samey or risk alienating your audience. Unless you’re doing a years later reboot like the previous title, you are where you’re at. However, I wanted to see the end of the story.

That push to want to see the end of the story is the most important thing to me about this game. I didn’t really need or want a challenge by the end, because it wasn’t important to my enjoyment anymore. I could turn the difficulty all the way down, hammer through the repetitive combat segments, and get what I wanted out of the game.

The previous game had me in a place where I absolutely hated Atreus, and that was a huge point of celebration for the quality of the writing in place. He was a little shit of a kid that needed to learn patience and care. Kratos was a completely impatient and untrusting father that wasn’t really prepared to be the sole caretaker for his son. It was a dynamic that worked wonderfully as a reintroduction to the series after years off.

This game instead shows a lot of growth in the characters across the board. Atreus still has his little shit moments, but he’s got such a strong growth arc throughout the game that ends with him at a point where he is clearly becoming an adult. He’s more careful in his decision making throughout the game. He shows patience when he isn’t immediately getting his way. Importantly, he is able to provide a level of care to others that allows them to also grow. Kratos on the other hand is an increasingly patient individual. He shows deference to his son’s wishes while still providing growth lessons to him. He shows a clear wish to avoid war but is also willing to engage when it becomes necessary. The growth in the dynamic between the two of them is the thing that made it easy for me to push through to the end of the game, and on its own I think is a clear reason to play this.

The rest of the game is kind of take it or leave it. The combat is as solid as the previous game, but effectively unchanged if you ignore the inclusion of a spear weapon. Atreus’ role in combat is a little more flexible with some arrow powers, but in practice it acts as more of a spam when practical button than much in the way of planning. I again enjoyed the dodge/parry focus on defense that I could play with, but found enemy tells and timing of tells to be incredibly inconsistent, which could be pretty frustrating in multi-target combat. Basically, they were similar gripes I had with the original and I’m not surprised that hasn’t changed.

I guess my tl;dr here is play it if you know you liked the previous game or play it on story mode if you just want an enjoyable narrative experience. There’s really not going to be a lot of surprises here otherwise. It’s an incredibly solid first-party title for Sony that has the same strengths and weaknesses as the previous title, with just that important bit of iteration involved, leaving us with a game that is predictably great.