God of War: Ragnarök is the ninth installment in the God of War series and the sequel to 2018's God of War. Continuing with the Norse mythology theme, the game is set in ancient Norway and feature series protagonists Kratos, the former Greek God of War, and his young son Atreus. The game is expected to kick off the events of Ragnarök, where Kratos and Atreus must journey to each of the Nine Realms in search of answers as they prepare for the prophesied battle that will end the world.

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My controversial opinion about this game is that it would have been better to go all in on a heavily scripted Uncharted 10-20 hour game. There are two games here: the aforementioned and a post-Zelda style adventure / puzzle game that made up a larger chunk of God of War (2018)'s gameplay. The strange thing is I liked the adventuring in 2018. Here, it did very little for me. I don't think it's because it was more poorly designed (though its possible), but because this games high points are SO high, that when you go back down to average gameplay it feels like utter drudgery.
Sure, if you stripped out so much combat, exploring, collectibles, puzzles, you would have something much closer to a movie than a game. But they created a movie that's far more compelling than the game. There are so many exhilarating memorable moments that made this game a blast to play (or watch), while I'll be remembering very little of the exploring.
It feels strange to say, because the exploring and combat wasn't bad. It wasn't amazing, but it was good. Above average, for sure. Just compared to some of the strongest performances we've ever seen in a game, it feels...dated, trite. Like two separate aspects of the game that are both good in their own right, but when you put them together they drag the entire project down rather than complement each other.
This review seems more negative than it is. God of War Ragnarok is a great game. Everyone knows it. Still, its hard not to notice that its simultaneously the future of AAA games and just more of the same.
Also, I've gotta say, there are some pretty funny moments, but they went a little overboard on the marvel humor.

Everything the first game did but bigger. What a great conclusion to 2018's game.

Following up God of War 4 is a herculean task, that game is near perfect with a disciplined focus both in gameplay and narrative. This I feel is a good follow up but it does not match 4's balance. I've seen takes saying that this game is two games crammed into one in terms of content and story, and I agree. I did not realize just how big this game is and I don't mind long games; I've enjoyed both Elden Ring and The Witcher. However, what those games do is keep itself interesting by never having you just walk at a snail pace as characters talk or watch cutscenes that go on and on. The best and worst instincts from 4 are on full display.
The combat feels much more snappier, however the parry windows on the yellow circle attacks are not as indicative as they seem. There were times where my parry was too early and I got severely punished and there were times where I thought I blocked way too late. I replayed 4 in anticipation and that game's parries felt fairer than this time around. This does not hinder common enemies and story bosses too much, but when it came to the optional bosses it made them cheap and frustrating than challenging and fun. I was disappointed by them as I thought the Valkyries in 4 were worth playing the game on their own. I do enjoy the combat overall, I love the addition of the Spear as it is such a fun weapon that the game introduces way too late in the campaign. The game has your companions backseat your playing incessantly. It becomes white noise after a while until they start insulting you. If you let an attack that can be blocked hit you, Mimir will say "What good is a shield if you're not going to use it" to which made me so mad that I wish there was a button that would have Kratos spike Mimir like a football. This design philosophy is greatly condescending, especially if you chose Normal Mode. The backseating should have been reserved for Easy Mode, not for Normal and Above because you saying that you think I am dumb even for average difficulty and need help. That kind of accessibilty is bad because you think I am a dimwit. As of writing this I have not seen any news about Santa Monica patching in a way to disable Backseating but that hinders the quality of the game.
The story is much more complex compared to the simplistic goal of 4 and has way more characters this time around. 4 feels like a stage play whereas 5 is more of a TV show. People need to start comparing games to TV and Plays since that's a much more apt way of describing games like Ragnarok. The performances are stellar, you have to remember these actors are doing this wearing a ball studded jumpsuit in a warehouse and they are so believable. The writing may come off as typical modern dialogue, but so many exchanges are incredible and the way the plot unfolds is top notch. I do think the execution of the themes: Destiny, Parental Expectations, Familial Bonds, Loss, and Self Realization are done well. The main issue: it is long. The TV comparison I used not only describes it's story beats being episodic, but this feels like a full 13 1 Hour HBO TV show with a gameplay loop all too familiar that makes it feel much longer. According to HowLongToBeat, 5 is only 4 hours longer than 4 but that goes to show that simplicity makes all the difference. You can probably use one hand to count the major points in 4, in 5 you're going to need all limbs. Like I said I do not mind length, but it does make me not want to replay this immediately.
Overall Ragnarok is a fine follow up that gets too big for its britches, it needed a trimming before release. Also Atreus > Freya. PS: Sif is hot I'm getting the PC port for ahem reasons

Excellent and epic conclusion to the Norse arc. Basically the same game as the first one just bigger and more varied. UI and menu problems of the first game are persistent here. All the good things are present here too though.
The new gameplay options are very fun…arguably more fun that the combat elements that carried over from the first game. I would have been more than happy to play with only the new elements for the entire game but it’s fun to constantly be switching things up. On the story side however, the game does have some pacing issues. There are parts that reeeally drag and k feel could have been trimmed for a tighter experience, particularly some of the parts with this new gameplay.
Another small gripe is that the companions are far too quick to chime in on how to solve the puzzle you’re at. I had times where I’m still surveying they area planning out what I need to do and they’re already telling me how to solve it. From an accessibility standpoint I think it’s fine but there should at least be an option to turn it off.
The game does an excellent job of giving the characters room to breathe and grow and everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. Some of the most well rounded character writing I’ve ever seen.
“The culmination of love is grief. And yet we love, despite the inevitable. To grief deeply is to have loved fully.”
Goddamn this narrative packs some serious emotional punch at times. The themes are motifs are also very universal and I think you could show this story to someone who doesn’t give a shit about video games and they would find lots of things of value here. Some moments hit very close to home for me and really endeared me to this game. I think the game also sends a good message particularly to all the guys out there playing. Watching Kratos’ frozen heart gradually thaw and learn that it’s ok to express emotions, to show his family and friends that they are loved and appreciated, to show that it’s ok to grief for his lost wife, that it’s ok to hug his son, it’s all really powerful stuff.
I really loved this game and if Elden Ring didn’t exist this would probably be my GOTY. And at the end of the day it’s good to see the story wrap up with a bang rather than a whimper.

God of War Ragnarök has a better story than its predecessor, and gameplay, whilst not substantially better, still feels fresh and more exciting than its predecessor. The game doesn't fully deliver on the story promises of the first few hours, and is dragged down by a few awfully linear, slow, and long sections, but overall, it is an excellent game, that is but a few milimeters away from a perfect score.
God of War Ragnarök is a near-perfect sequel, in the sense where it builds upon the first game marvelously. After playing Ragnarök, gameplay and story-wise, I see no reason to go back to its 2018 counterpart. But, while 90% of the game feels perfected, with Santa Monica Studios building on an already excellent base, you can really feel that 10% of the game is completely new and in that sense, unpolished. Those last 10 % are the Atreus sections.
I spent 48 hours completing this game, and I must've played maybe 5 hours as Atreus total. Not a big deal right ? Wrong. Those 5 hours felt like ten. It's to the point where I can't this game a perfect score because of the Atreus sections (even though other minor gripes add up, further discouraging me). Don't get me wrong, I was hyped as hell when i was given control of Atreus, and the first section was really cool. Yeah, the combat wasn't great, but for short, story driven sections that would happen once or twice during the game, it wouldn't be a big deal. Problem is, you play as Atreus on 6 different occasions, and two of those occasions are at least three quarters of an hour long, where you do such interesting things as picking fruits or, and I'm not kidding, climbing a wall for five-ten straight minutes. I don't mind climbing in video games, as long as the sights are worth seeing, but this is overkill.
Atreus is the only overwhelmingly poor part of this game. The rest of it is at least good. There are two poorer aspects I would like to evoke. Firstly, this game being cross-gen really hinders it from a pacing perspective. The game is forced to include hidden loading screens because of the PS4, which is just annoying when you know that your version of the game doesn't need those loading times. On PS5, when you travel between realms and the characters don't tell a story, the loading time is instantaneous, but they still had to put in the waiting room that is the realm between realms to accomodate the PS4. It's not major, but it is a shame, and we're two years into the PS5's life cycle by now, everyone who really wants a PS5 can get one now, it would be nice if this game was the last cross-gen release.
The story is epic, in the litteral sense of the word. it feels like you are playing through a mythological tale, rather than playing through a story with mythological lore. The beginning of the game really takes it time to set the scene, establish the dynamics between different characters, build tension between Atreus and Kratos, Kratos and Freya, Odin and Kratos and Atreus, tension between the prophecy of Ragnarök and the characters wishes... There is a lot of tension in the relationships, to the point where it is genuinely hard to see how the writers are going to conclude every storyline and I was really excited to see how Ragnarök would play out. But then, everything just started to resolve itself. Tension with Freya ? Go for a walk around her home-realm and it's solved like nothing happened. Tensions between Atreus and Kratos ? Nope, it just goes away after Atreus LITTERALY WENT RIGHT TO ODIN AND COULD'VE BEEN BRAINWASHED BY HIM. It's to the point where the conclusion to every story doesn't make. i'm not against this game having a good ending, but it's just that the tension between characters blows off way too early. The scene before the final fight with Odin should be this really stressful resolution to all the tension between different characters, but ends up being predictable because all doubt about the different characters intent in regards to one another has been solved. Kratos and Atreus are bound to the ground, Freya arrives: had the tension not been completely wiped out between these characters, you could've had a tease of Freya maybe turning on Kratos to avenge her son, and then face Odin one on one. Later, Atreus has a choice to make between his father and Odin, but there is no doubt about the fact he'll choose Kratos, because he keeps saying that he doesn't trust Odin, and he never even starts to trust Odin. Basically, it just feels like this game's story had an insane amount of gunpowder, and instead of just blowing up, it blows away in the wind. Don't get me wrong, the story isn't bad, it's epic and the first half is some of the best characterization I've seen in a video game in a while, but it doesn't deliver on its promise.
Now for the purely good parts of the game. Combat has somehow been made better, thanks to the momentum mechanic and the introduction of the Draugnir Spear (which is maybe introduced a bit too late since at that point, I was so established in my usaged of the Blades and the Axe that I felt like going to the spear would just be inneficient). Traversal has been made immensely better thanks to the Blades now serving as a grapling hook, helping the game feel better paced in exploration sequences (even though it does lead to me kinda rolling my eyes when I need to climb somethign the old fashioned way as it feels like I could just grapple up).
However, the real x-factor of this game is the presence of all 9 realms. Even though only 6 are truly interesting (Asgard can only be played through in story sequences, Jötunheim is worthless outside of the Atreus section and Helheim doesn't have a lot of side content), they all feel fleshed out. Alfheim has a huge (but small by comparison) desert to explore that will take a good three hours to complete, Svartalfheim is truly huge with lots to do (and looks amazing) and Vanaheim is ridiculously huge. There is a whole region that is completely optional and that just keeps on going. That region alone will take you 5-7 hours to complete, which you can add to the original 3-5 hours of extra content in the main region. This game went all out on the size and content of the realms, which makes it a bit annoying that the artefacts returned. They do give you hacksilver, but I was crawling under hacksilver after a few hours (i don't know why, but it felt like this game was way more generous with money than the first game) so their main interest is the trophies. Sidequests are now more interesting, as way less of them are given by spirits it feels like (except in Vanaheim which is a bit dissapointing in this regard). Favours are way more story-driven now, exploring the past of different characters like Mimir or Freya, as well as building the relationship between Kratos and Atreus. The themes of the story (parenthood, accepting the past and trying to be better, trust in your allies etc...) are often explored in the side quests, which makes it a nice, coherent package. I was surprised, but I actually really enjoyed raven-hunting this time around: there 48 (compared to the 51 in God of war 2018) which is quite small when you put into perspective with the size of the map. Furthermore, there is actual purpose to collecting them now, with equipment being given to you for (more or less) every 8 ravens collected.
I was however a bit dissapointed by the optional fights. Even though the common enemy selection is more varied than in the first game, the optional boss fights do feel a bit redundant. You fight a lot of the same dragons but with different elements (even though the sidequest of dragon hunting is really cool), there is only one optional valkyrie (which is an awesome fight) and the replacement for valkyries, Berseker souls, do feel awfully samey. The final berseker's moveset is nothing more than a combination of all the different bersekers you've killed, and that's what the final valkyrie was in the last game, but in this game I already couldn't tell apart two berskeker fights in terms of moveset (except when I was facing multiple at once sure) so the king just felt like any other berseker, but with more health and who deals more damage.

This review contains spoilers

The moment at the mural at the very end of the game hit me emotionally in a way I did not expect. Kratos seeing himself depicted by the giants in this beautiful golden light and finally accepting that he's not just a God to be hated, a God to be feared, a God who's vengeful, angry, and violent. He's a God who not only has the capacity to love, but is deserving and worthy of love himself. In this moment I found myself just like Kratos, fighting back tears of joy and relief.
Lost half a star because the berserker fights sucked so much ass