God of War Ragnarok is one of those rare moments in gaming. Not since I played Kingdom Hearts as a kid that I’ve been so invested in the world, characters, combat, environments, and lore surrounding a game. It’s that magnificent, and I was that sucked in. It has some extremely minor faults, but this is legitimately a colossal game that will be remembered for decades to come.
The PS4 game set the foundations for the character's growth, a character that has struggled with the loss of his family and killed many for revenge. God of War Ragnarok evolves that further with Kratos in a surprising fashion. The emotional performance of Christopher Judge, the exceptional animation, and the impeccable writing all justify his character progression.
This comes hand in hand with kid protagonist Atreus, who is trying to find his own path, a character who has been secluded for so long that it’s so charming when he finds his own friends. His will to discover who he is and help his Giant-kind conflicts with Kratos’ overly protective manner, creating a dynamic that is so palpable to watch. You do not know where the story is heading, and that will easily help carry you through long sessions.
God of War Ragnarok has a provocative story between a father and son as they struggle to trust each other and face an inevitable war against Odin and his minions. Atreus decides, along with a begrudging Kratos, to free Tyr, a man that hopefully can bring answers to who the teenager is and who Loki is meant to be. It’s a wonderful narrative of self-discovery while Kratos and his allies fear how the story will come to an end. They doubt his actions, and conflict arises as Kratos learns to trust his son and become the father he needs to be.
However, storytelling isn’t the only element of God of War Ragnarok that will get you hooked. Earlier this year, Horizon: Forbidden West failed to bring back the magic of the first game. The gameplay felt too cyclical and similar to Zero Dawn as the story meandered during the opening 10 hours. God of War: Ragnarok, however, was able to carry all the weapons and moves we remember and elevates the combat.
The parry system is integral to your experience in God of War Ragnarok. It will leave you an opening to attack and if you time your block just right, you’ll be rewarded with a cool as heck slow motion moment. The weapons each feel powerful, and there are new abilities that are progressively available to you throughout the full 20-30 hour experience.
Kratos has all manner of attacks at his disposal and each punch, axe swing, and whip from the Blades of Chaos are precise and feel incredible to pull off. Some elegant combos are able to be performed in God of War Ragnarok, making Devil May Cry blush a little bit.
One of the major issues of the first game is that bosses were often recycled with new color palettes. For the most part, God of War Ragnarok has resolved that issue. There is a wide array of enemies and bosses to defeat in each realm; some high-budget battles actually take place within side missions. For example, God of War Ragnarok has one of, if not the best dragon battles in video game history. The tight animation, flow, and strategy of each boss fight are impeccable and look stunning on screen.
Atreus has improved in a mighty fashion since the first game with many moves at his disposal. Three years after the 2018 game, he is now more combat-ready. The developer Sony Santa Monica does a phenomenal job of reflecting on how he’s growing as a person and learning more about his fighting style. There is a twist that occurs during the first act of the game that we won’t spoil here, but his combat style shows great promise for the future of the God of War series.
Your armor and perks that you can unlock throughout side missions and main story quests also add a bit of variety to the mix. There are so many runic attacks to keep you busy as you find the best one that’s right for you. One cool move you can perform is the Fog of Fimbulwinter which pulls off a wave of ice in front of your opponents and freezes them on the spot. If you’re invested in a certain attack, you can upgrade it fully for max damage and effect. It’s also handy to see the stats of each runic attack, like damage and stun, on the screen.
On top of an assortment of runic attacks, there are attachments that drastically alter your weapons. For example, the Grip of Healing Harmony axe attachment has an ability that lets you restore health from permafrosted enemies. There’s quite the cavalcade of attachments to choose from for the Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos, and it helps keep the combat fresh.
While there are a lot of positives to be said about the combat system in God of War Ragnarok, there are a few technical issues that poor Brok and Sindri couldn’t fix. First and foremost, it is super odd to see arrows flying through walls and other environmental objects. It takes you briefly out of the combat experience as you tilt your head in confusion.
In addition, there are some voice lines that are repeated over and over during combat. They’re supposed to give you tips on how to succeed in the fight, but there are only so many times you can hear Brok saying, “You won’t get so much a paper cut in that!” before it gets old. Seriously, he says it 10 times in the space of a few minutes at one point in the game. Also, I never want to hear Mimir warning Kratos about bifrost ever again.
Most of the time, the puzzles are excellently crafted. They’re fairly easy to understand and allow you to figure out the end goal. With all the abilities Kratos and Atreus have, solving a puzzle can be a grand experience in God of War Ragnarok.
However, there were a few minor puzzle elements that were either too hidden or have bizarre thought processing. The worst example is to do with a lift. Brok is ready to turn the mechanism to bring up a lift and then summon it down.
Brok wasn’t useful during this situation as he repeatedly said that the lookout point wasn’t on the ground he was on. If you keep entering his space, he’ll give the exact same delivery of the hint, reminding me that this was developed by people, not a story experience. Somehow, the way to solve the lift puzzle was to freeze an unconnected pool of water that is by far not obvious to the player. This happens only a handful of times within God of War: Ragnarok. Some of the puzzles revolve around the Hex arrow, a special ability that lets Kratos and Atreus enflame or freeze objects in the world. Each of these spells attach to each other and have to daisy chain to the intended target like a switch. While it’s a good concept, it can be a bit too finicky at some aggravating points.
While God of War Ragnarok isn’t technically an open world, there is a lot of surface area to explore within the nine realms, and every sight you’ll see will be glorious. The locations include a hot jungle area adorned with stunning tropical wildlife and trees, and the icy tundra of Midgard stuck within a winter storm that will never end. Similar to Red Dead Redemption 2, the snow looks realistic and showcases each step the father and son duo takes in excellent detail.
There are so many stunning environments to see in this game with striking vistas, lightning bolts just hanging in the sky, and all manner of architecture to behold. The world is rendered in such beautiful detail, and the lighting effects on each character’s face are absolutely phenomenal. The combat also has some outstanding visuals with over-the-top cinematic kills from Kratos and Atreus alike. It truly ups the ante when it comes to visuals and could honestly be one of the best-looking games of 2022.
Bear McCreery also pulls off the music again. When God of War Ragnarok calls for deep dramatic music, this composer has you covered. If God of War Ragnarok needs to insert an emotional cutscene, McCreery knows exactly how to make you feel with his music. While there aren’t any new phenomenal tracks other than the core main theme, McCreery does an incredible job of composing the game’s soundtrack.
Last but certainly not least is the voice actors. Each brought their A-game, especially Sunny Suljic as Atreus. He’s the core of the story and the acting from this teenager strikes a dagger in your heart. The character goes through all kinds of emotions in the game from feelings of love to doubt to hatred, all in one game. He also helps portray a rounded character as he’s trying to learn more about himself in this coming-of-age story.
Christopher Judge also was incredible as you see Kratos become more attached to his son and will not let him go. The arc that both of these characters have is so powerful, and both Suljic and Judge act their butts off for these roles. As Judge got recognition at The Game Awards for his role in the 2018 reboot, I hope Suljic gets attention as well for the sequel.
God of War Ragnarok is a game that will be recognized as one of PlayStation’s best. The effective and powerful story, the thrilling battles, and the stunning visuals all make for one of the most incredible games of all time. It also effectively brings a conclusion to the Norse saga, and I can’t wait to see what’s next in this franchise.
TechRaptor reviewed God of War Ragnarok on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4.
- Character development is so delightfully pronounced
- The combat is spectacular with impressive cinematic moments throughout
- An enthralling story from beginning to end
- Spectacular graphics and acting performances
- Some puzzle segments are too vague
- There are a few technical hiccups like arrows flying through the ground
- Combat dialogue is repeated way too much in some circumstances