Monday, April 23, 2018

God of hot takes

Are you ready for Chamberlain's HOT TAKES on God of War? I don't think you are.

(Disclaimer: Of course God of War is exceptional. I am upset that I am not playing it right fucking now. This does not mean that the game is immune to critique. On the contrary, it makes its few failings all the more apparent. No, this is not an entry by that guy. That guy doesn't deserve to play good things.)

Somewhere between the end of God of War 3 and this game Kratos left Greece for the colder environs. He met a valkyrie (not explicitly stated in the game yet, but come on) and had a kid. Not a bad start for a story but instead of getting to see family man Kratos we jump right to mom is dead, kid is broken, Kratos deals with his grief by being a dick to everyone. Why didn't we get to meet mom? The wife character, so far anyway, is nothing more than a corpse wrapped in rags who left very explicit instructions on what to do with her ashes. It is a missed opportunity. A woman who could keep Kratos in check would be formidable indeed and I am disappointed that we did not get to meet her.

Speaking of characters, the game is a bit thin on speaking parts outside of Kratos and the boy. Their interactions are, speaking as the father of a precocious, intelligent, smart assed kid, very believable. Passed them there is the witch of the woods who serves as little more than waking exposition and two dwarves who dole out quests, upgrade equipment and complain. As of the ten or so hour mark, that's it. The stranger from the opening has not returned and there has been no sign of Odin, Thor, Loki or any other members of the Norse pantheon.

There just isn't much happening beyond walking around, exploring and listening to Atreus poke holes in his father's silence. God of War is part action game, part incestious soap opera and all of the lurid drama is missing.

Finally, and most damning, is the new combat mechanics. They are not bad, they just don't feel like God of War and they often make Kratos feel weak. The opening fight between Kratos and the stranger sees him open up ravines with his punches but later in the game if you open the wrong dimensional right he gets one shot killed by a nameless flaming zombie. His progression feels off, maybe a little slow, and the combat requires so much caution, so much planning, that it just doesn't feel very Kratos.

Perhaps that is the point. Kratos tells Atreus that he is not ready (for what, who knows) when Atreus loses his temper and stabs the corpse of a giant they killed together. Kratos has learned was unbridled rage will get him and has for the time being abandoned it. I miss it, though. I miss the just past button mashing nature of the blades of chaos. In previous games I could through Kratos into a mass of enemies and come out slightly injured and victorious. In this game doing the same thing leads to an untimely death.

It's a very, very good game but I wonder if it would not have been better as new IP. There is so much baggage that comes with Kratos, so many disparate expectations, that going back to the rage well may have been a fools errand.

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