God of War PC review - A masterpiece revisited
There are perhaps very few people interested in video games and haven’t heard the name of God of War. From Greek mythology to the Nordic, Kratos has been a PlayStation icon for over a decade and a half. Now for the first time, the legend has ventured into new frontiers, as the latest iteration of God of War has made its way to the PC platform.
The Kratos and the God of War franchise began its journey back in 2005 on the PlayStation 2. Spanning over more than a decade with multiple installments of the Greek Saga, Kratos rose from a demigod to a rageful Spartan Warrior to finally the God of War.
With the latest 2018 iteration titled God of War, director Cory Barlog and Sony Santa Monica Studio decided to tell a new tale, set centuries later, in a new realm, drastically redefining and reforming the franchise and the character of Kratos.
So how does the title feel on PC? Is it truly as great as its reputation precedes it? Let’s take a closer look at the God of War PC.
God of War PC review - What’s a man to a King, what’s a King to a God
While being very aware of the franchise and its history, I have never had the opportunity to play a God of War title before. As such, this title is my first proper introduction to the franchise, and I can whole-heartedly say that this iteration of God of War is a perfect place for a new player to be introduced to the franchise.
The God of War does mention Kratos’s past adventures of being the ghost of sparta, yet that never makes a new player feel left out. The story brilliantly captures an old Kratos trying to leave his past behind, trying to be a good father and prepare his son Atreus for the harsh world he faced himself. Yet, when the situation calls for it, he must embrace his past to save the future.
The characters and the narrative
[contains minor early spoilers for God of War]
Since the early days, I have known Kratos as a rageful character with a deep tragedy. Still, Sony's Santa Monica Studios has not only expanded on the characteristics in the best way possible but also redefined him to be a more sympathetic, tragic, yet gruff character. Kratos' character is best reflected in one of his quotes,
Do not mistake my silence for lack of grief
The distant, cold-hearted, standoffish attitude of Kratos is contrasted with that of the eager and active nature of Atreus, who lacks the patience of his father. It is further driven home when you realize that both Kratos and Atreus are suffering from losing their loved ones. Yet express the grief in different ways.
Atreus is eager to live up to his mother’s expectations and deliver her ashes to the top of the mountain. At the same time, Kratos looks upon his years of experience and is cautious about the journey ahead. Kratos’s expectation about Atreus is best encapsulated by an early dialogue when Kratos tells Atreus,
Don't be sorry, be better.
The relationship between Kratos and Atreus, father and son, is built intricately throughout the journey. It is this journey that binds the two drastically different characters together. The beautiful bond between the two of them is further enhanced by the performance of Christopher Judge (Kratos) and Sunny Suljic (Atreus).
While the narrative is about Kratos and Atreus, the associating cast further enhances the story. While Kratos has his origin in Greek Mythology, he brilliantly blends in the world of Nordic mythology yet maintains a distinct identity. The multiple-dimensional characters are further expanded upon with each encounter, and you come to know more about the characters. The story of God of War is a beautiful masterpiece, genuinely worth experiencing.
The world and the gameplay
Over the years, Kratos has thrived in and ruled the Greek world, but the Nordic realm is quite different from that. The developers at Sony Santa Monica have brilliantly interpreted the Nordic Realms, from the Midgard to the ones you visit as the game progresses. The beautiful level design is further elevated as the world changes with the story progression. Brilliant use of camera also expands worldwide, representing the scale properly.
During a specific scripted segment when Kratos and Atreus first meet Jormungandr, I was amazed by the game's beauty, where the scale is expanded upon least expectedly. The continuous journey without the interruption of the loading screen was perfect and made me immersed in the story.
In a word, the gameplay is satisfying. While it might seem a bit daunting, after a while, I was seamlessly dodging and parrying attacks while swinging and throwing the Leviathan ax smoothly. However, I must mention that some attacks are better suited to be remapped rather than following the default schematics.
As the game progresses, the God of War expands on the gameplay. It also rewards players for looking out of the way. In an early game segment, I intentionally took an opposite road rather than the one Atreus pointed towards.
After a bit of journey, I came across a mural that depicted a Skoll and Hati, the two wolves chasing the sun and the moon, which expanded on the lore of the world. It was advantageous to venture outside the set path and explore the world more.
The PC port
The PC port of God of War is the first time the series has ventured outside of the PlayStation console family, and Sony Santa Monica has taken full care to make this transition as smooth as possible.
While previous PlayStation ports have a notorious reputation for being filled with bugs and glitches, I had one of the smoothest experiences with the game. Furthermore, the game is very well optimized, and it maintained a constant 60fps performance throughout my playthrough.
However, the player might want to take a look at the control setup, and the default keyboard and mouse mapping is quite jarring and does benefit from a remapping.
The title also brings new PC-specific features, such as Native 4K resolution, Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), as well as FidalityFX Super Resolution (FSR). Both render the title in a lower resolution and then upscales it at a higher output, thus providing a higher resolution image without sacrificing performance. It should be mentioned that based upon the technology, DLSS has a much crisper image output than FSR.
I have heard about the legend of God of War since the early days of my interest in video games. I’m happy to say it lives up to the expectations. Previous PlayStation ports such as Horizon Zero Dawn left a lot to be desired, although the game has drastically improved since then. However, that is not the case for this game. The title runs smoothly on a mid-tier build and provides uninterrupted immersive gameplay.
After having a satisfying playthrough of God of War, I am quite excited to join Kratos and Atreus in their next adventure, God of War Ragnarok, and have a second playthrough. The God of War on PC is recommended and is truly worth experiencing.
God of War
Reviewed on: PC (Early Access code provided by Sony)
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC (Steam, Epic Games Store)
Developer: Santa Monica Studios, Jetpack Interactive
Publisher: PlayStation PC