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God of War: Ragnarök Review — Being Better?

Does the second chapter of Kratos and Atreus’ adventure deliver another godly affair?

Jeremy Proome



2018’s soft-reboot/sequel to the beloved hack-‘n-slash God of War franchise proved to be a massive risk, but a huge hit, with the development team at Sony Santa Monica conjuring up something that had one foot in the past of the series, but taking it forward from a mechanical and story direction. The sequel, God of War: Ragnarök, has had some lofty expectations after its predecessor won over longtime and new fans, while also gathering tons of awards along the way. It’s satisfying to say that while Ragnarök doesn’t add too many new things, it also doesn’t fall into the ‘sequelitis’ problem of trying too hard, rather giving fans another adventure that feels very much like a ‘Part 2’ of an on-going journey.

While ‘more of the same’ can often be a negative in the gaming world, when it comes to the God of War formula that’s been created, it’s a huge plus, as the first game set such a high-standard from a gameplay, story, and graphical perspective, that just delivering a bigger dose of that is exciting in its own right.

God of War: Ragnarök

That’s not to say that there aren’t noticeable changes from the previous game. While this is the next phase of Kratos’ journey, it does feel like Ragnarök takes a step in the direction of old God of War games, and for the better. Combat feels a bit snappier than the more brutal 2018 entry, and increased traversal options, using the Blades of Chaos to ‘grappling hook’ around the environments, harks back to the PS2 gems of yesteryear.

The combat itself has also been beefed up a little, with some extra options thrown in to mix things up. That great dynamic of switching between the throwable and powerful Leviathan axe to the more wide-ranging Blades of Chaos is great and still present, and now you have options to equip different shields, all with different blocking thresholds or parrying bonuses. This adds a new bit of strategy of the combat, allowing you to be more of a tank’s shield can take a beating, or go for a more agile, high-risk/high-reward parrying approach, which we preferred.

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God of War: Ragnarök

On top of that, the environments play into the combat more than before. Most combat segments feature flaming vases which you can use like exploding barrels, luring the enemy closer and hitting it with the Leviathan axe to deal some serious damage. Embedded pillars can also be ripped out the ground and used as weapons when you’re in trouble; and these additions do make you look around the room, so to speak, a little more before tackling the enemy at hand to see what can help you swing a fight in your favour.

Nothing is perfect though, and some of the meticulously detailed and jaw-droppingly gorgeous vistas and environments do come with a caveat. In some of the combat arenas or exploration portions, it’s hard not to notice the invisible walls that you’ll have Kratos bumping into constantly. The funny thing is that the levels are so gorgeously detailed, you’ll often think that you’ve found the path, only to run into an invisible wall, so it’s a testament to the almost-unnecessarily dense level design, but it does take syphon the immersion out a little.

God of War: Ragnarök

Much like the first game, the story is once again captivating, with some phenomenal performances from the voice and mo-cop cast to deliver gravity and emotional moments of subtlety that other games struggle to do. It very much continues to the thematic elements of the first game, focusing on Kratos’ desire for convey to his son that it’s their duty as gods to elevate themselves above their vengeful destinies; as he said in God of War (2018): “we must be better.”

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The only gripe in the story delivery is some misplaced humour. Don’t get us wrong, it’s great to have some brevity between all the violence and sombre subject matter, but some of the jokes just don’t land and some banter seems quite out of place for the context of the story.

God of War: Ragnarök

Of course, in the grand scheme of what God of War: Ragnarök delivers, these things are somewhat negligible in an otherwise spectacular experience. There’s no doubt that it does feel like the second part of the same over-arching experience rather than a massive leap forward. However, the first game was such a giant stride in its own right that calling this a worthy successor is a compliment of the highest order. God of War: Ragnarök is a must-play for anyone who owns a PS5 or PS4.

God of War: Ragnarök is available on PS5 and PS4 (and let’s be honest, probably PC at some point).

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