I have a confession to start this off. I don’t actually know how many hours of God of War that I’ve played. There’s no way to check and I haven’t really been keeping close track. I could have played less, I could have played more. I’m somewhere around there. It’s just that”10 Thoughts in ??? Hours” doesn’t really roll off the tongue.
God of War came out back in April of last year. I picked it up pretty close to launch, but I never really got around to playing it until recently. So here we are with all my thoughts from the first bit of the game! Let’s get into it.
1. Boy is a Good Boy
Something I really like about Atreus is just how childlike he feels. He’s volatile and emotional, but he’s also curious and intensely endearing. You also really feel how tiny and fragile he is, partially because of how huge and imposing a figure Kratos cuts. A lot of that is thanks to some great animation work that really pays attention to the weight of movement.
He’s in that phase where a kid teeters between surprising maturity and frustrating immaturity, and the writers really made that come through.
I just love my boy, that’s what I’m trying to say. Even when he’s being frustratingly annoying.
2. Boy! Come Pose for a Photo, Boy!
Speaking of loving the Boy, I’m really addicted to taking photos in Photo Mode and, yeah, they’re usually of Atreus. He’s a little more photogenic than Kratos. I literally feel like a proud parent following my kid around with a little wind-up camera. Which, if you picture Kratos doing that, is about ten times funnier.
The picture above is Atreus protesting to the thirtieth picture taken of him. They’re never going to get to the mountain, and it’s not even because of the gods. It’s just because Kratos can’t stop snapping family memories for his scrapbook.
3. Is This a Boy or a Monkey?
Okay, okay, one more way the designers really make Atreus feel like a child and then, I swear, we’ll move on. We’re going to return to how great the animation can be. In particular, the animations of climbing and jumping and boosting are so good. Atreus will just instantly hop on your back.
I really particularly love the animation of a long drop, where Kratos will jump down first and then catch the boy right before he hits the ground. It feels very natural to both characters, and it has the added benefit of being very fast. It helps keep me from stalling out in play sessions, because moving around is so fast and fluid.
Well, most of the time. I’ve kind of forgotten how to do a quick turn. That’s on me though.
4. Boy, Your Father Never Learned to Read
…Okay, one more thing. For real this time!
It’s a delicate balance to strike, making a child feel like a child without having them feel like a horrible burden the whole time. Part of the way this game does it is by having Atreus be highly useful in battle but also with a vulnerability- he can get grabbed and need to be rescued, but it happens infrequently. Another way is by having him be integral to the journey. Kratos can’t read the many Norse languages they stumble across, but Atreus can.
I really like the way they have Atreus keep the journal for you too. It gives the flavor text some color and explains its existence. Kratos is just not someone who would keep a journal. Putting it in the perspective of the Boy adds some color to events that the player might not have gotten at the time.
5. Watch Out For My Axe, Boy
I’m not great at fighting. It’s not that the fighting doesn’t feel good, just that I’m not great at it. Although, I will say, that the crowds of enemies get to be a bit much. It’s okay when they’re the type with super low health that you’re just supposed to plow through, but it’s overwhelming when there’s lots of normal types. I don’t think that’s just me. There’s just too much to keep track of. I can’t imagine doing those sections on hard or, god forbid, very hard. God of War mode. Whatever it’s called.
Anyway, let’s just say that I’m very glad I can’t accidentally hit Atreus, because I definitely would have by now. Like, multiple times. I’m a bad enough father already.
6. Boy, Let Me Tell You a Dad Joke
I love making Kratos smile with Photo Mode, it just looks so wrong and unnatural. It’s delightful.
Madelyn watched me play a little bit and I demonstrated the smile for her. She did not want to watch me play anymore. I could not blame her.
That’s all I have to say here.
7. Sorry About Your Mom, Boy
I’m not a big fan of starting any narrative with “death of wife and/or other important female in the main character’s life.” I think the reasons for such should be obvious. That being said, if you’re going to do it, you should do it like God of War. Faye’s death doesn’t kick off some big revenge plan (as it does in the original God of War), but it rather gets Kratos and Atreus going as a way to honor her final wish. They’re doing something that she asked them to do, not something strictly driven by their own feelings.
Her spectre lingers over the father-son relationship in big ways, which I’m really happy about. For someone the player never meets, she’s very much a real character.
Still though, it really is a lazy way to start a story. Let’s not forget that.
8. Boy, This World Is Sure Big
We traveled to Alfheim, and I couldn’t help but notice the many other realms you could hit along the way. I don’t think very many of them are even story related, due to the fact that you have to find things along the way to unlock them. I don’t think I’ll be doing too much extra exploring at the moment. There are so many games coming out this summer after all. But I am curious about how expansive these realms could possibly be.
9. Dwarves Are the Worst, Boy, Never Forget
Do you see what I mean about Kratos’s smile?
Anyway, I really do not like Sindri and the blue one…whatever his name is, it’s slipping my mind at the moment. I think it starts with a B, but maybe that’s just for blue. Brok? I think it’s Brok.
I don’t really know if I can explain why I don’t like them, but gosh darn it, I’m gonna try.
I do kind of like their quirkiness, in how they just pop up everywhere nonchalantly, slipping in and out of trouble. I think they maybe talk just a bit too much. Like, yeah, I could leave the conversation option alone, but I can’t help but exhaust it. It’s just my way. I guess I’m just not invested in their family drama? And they tend to serve as stalling lore drops too. It’s okay when Kratos and Atreus are talking on the boat, because at least I’m moving while they’re having story time. With the dwarves, I just have to stand there and chuck my axe around for something to do.
I just sigh when I hear them. My natural response to them is a sigh. That sums it up better than the above paragraph.
10. Boy, Look Upon This Land
Here’s the requisite “this game is very pretty” section. And it really is. Even relatively barren environments have a sense of scale to them that makes it interesting to look at and move around in. And then there’s places like the Witch’s House that are just bursting with vibrancy. I really appreciate that this is a rare AAA game that isn’t afraid of using color.
There’s also the whole gimmick of the one camera shot which is…fine. It gave them a talking point for marketing, and it doesn’t detract from the experience, so it’s fine. It is really effective in some scenes- the very beginning up to driving off the Stranger is fantastic. But I’m not really sure there’s a purpose for it except for “we can do it, and it’s pretty dang impressive that we can do it.” Which, fair enough.
And that’s a wrap! Thanks for tagging along on this 10 Thoughts in ??? Hours for God of War. I’m enjoying it thus far! It’s not about to make its way into my top 16, but I’m glad I got around to trying it out. I would recommend it for anyone who’s in to action-adventure, whether or not you’ve played the previous games. Just be warned that it can be pretty hard if you’re clumsy with your fingers like me.
If you liked it, Madelyn’s got another one coming up on Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, and I’m five hours into Judgement (and half an hour into Bloodstained). Make sure to check the Game Thoughts tag for more. And, of course, remember to check out our podcast. We did God of War on our second outing!