‘God of War: Ragnarök’ game review: This sequel has exceeded its enormous expectations

The much-hyped follow up to the ‘God of War’ reboot is finally here. And, it is a worthy addition in an epic series.

November 04, 2022 05:45 pm | Updated 05:45 pm IST

God of War Ragnarok

God of War Ragnarok | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Famiail issues are best sorted out with conversations. But if Kratos and his son Atreus did that, ‘God of War: Ragnarök’ would have been a short game. The God of War reboot in 2018 was refreshing — it introduced us to a less angry Kratos, who we now know has a son, Atreus. That game ended on a cliff-hanger. We have been hungry for a sequel ever since.

Take the next few words as a public service announcement: Play ‘God of War’ if you haven’t. If you have, then, play it once more because Ragnarök begins with the assumption that you remember the first game very well.

Ragnarök takes place many years later. Kratos and Atreus, now a teenager, try their best to survive the Fimbulwinter, brought on by the death of Baldur. Freya, Baldur’s mother, is on the path of revenge against Kratos. With the harsh cold and Freya on one side and Atreus with a strange case of hormones on the other, which sees him develop some powers, Kratos has his hands full. Like in the previous game, Kratos gets an unwelcome visitor in the form of an angry Thor. And he has bought some company.

If the very mention of Thor conjures up visions of Chris Hemsworth and Marvel’s version of the Asgardian superstars, you will need to review your expectations. Fortunately, I had just read Neil Gaiman’s book on Norse Mythology because Ragnarök stays true to the original lore. Here, these gods are actually bullies and tricksters who have left a lot of pain and death in their wake. Especially Thor. Every encounter with him in the game makes for excellent cinematography.

With ‘war’ in the name, what I was not expecting was a powerful anti-war message. Kratos’s past haunts him — from his time as a Spartan to killing his family and later an entire pantheon of gods. It is only natural he wants to steer his son clear of that path of violence. However, an eager Atreus is aware of his part in Ragnarök, the Norse apocalypse and the looming war.

As this tug of war ensues, the first few bits of the game are confusing. It takes a while for the narrative to set in.

God of War: Ragnarök
Developer: Santa Monica Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Price: ₹4999 on PlayStation 5, ₹3999 on PlayStation 4

Playing as Kratos is empowering. The game brings balance to The Levithan Axe and The Blades of Chaos, letting you alternate between them for elemental damage. You get craft and armour upgrades as Kratos and Atreus with equipable runes that give you additional perks. Atreus usually provides the ranged attacks for Kratos, and now you get to play as him. While he starts off slow, Atreus gradually becomes a capable fighter with new weapons and moves.

That is also where the duality creeps in, where you have levels of Kratos’s angry fighting and the battle switches to a lighter, swifter form. The story branches out as well. One one side, we have Kratos’s gritty narrative. When you play as Atreus, it switches to young adult fiction type-narrative that almost feels like a Disney movie.

It is a given that Ragnarök looks gorgeous, especially after you get out of the insipid Fimbulwinter stricken Midgard and venture out to the other realms. The sense of scale is massive. While many of the early levels have you retread familiar territory from the previous game, it is good to see how much has changed — it makes you eager for the new realms to discover.

Ragnarök is a massive game with a main story, quests, and much more. Though it takes its time to tell the story, it comes with excellent combat that is super-fun.

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