Star Rating:

God Of War Ragnarök

Platforms: PS4, PS5

Release Date: Wednesday 9th November 2022

Play Modes: Single Player

In a lot of ways, 'God Of War 'God Of War Ragnarök'' feels like the first truly next-gen game.

Music journalists point to 'Don't You Want Me' by the Human League as the first real number one of the 1980s and tag it as the first number one single that couldn't have been a number one in the previous decade, and by way of contrast, 'God Of War Ragnarök' feels like a blockbuster event for the PlayStation 5.

2 years into the lifecycle of the console, there have been 3 fantastic first-party titles; 'Horizon Forbidden West', 'Gran Turismo 7' and now Kratos' latest adventure has blessed the console with 3 killer first-party games in 2022 alone.

The graphics are absolutely astounding in motion, and considering how 'Gotham Knights' looks like a fan mod from 2012 on PS5 hardware, it boggles the mind how the team at Sony managed to get the graphics looking flawless.

We have no idea how launch PlayStation 4's are going to handle the game (presumably, the consoles will sound like a jet engine at an Iron Maiden concert) but on PlayStation 5, the game is a technical marvel.

If you want a graphical showcase for your television, 'God Of War Ragnarök' is an incredible display of power for the PlayStation 5, and best of all, the gameplay is equally as majestic and sweeping.

Following on from the events of the 2018 soft reboot, the game follows Kratos and Atreus as they travel to ancient Scandinavia and wreak havoc in the world of Norse mythology.

The 2018 reboot has been hailed as one of the great games of the last decade, and we're pleased to say the sequel is befitting of such a legendary game.

Our 3-word for 'Ragnarök' is "evolution, not revolution," but considering how the first game was such a dramatic change of pace from past games in the series, we aren't surprised Sony stuck to their guns on this game.

As Mike Love once told Brian Wilson in more profane terms, the winning formula shouldn't be messed with, and 'Ragnarök' plays much like the 2018 game.

This doesn't necessarily mean that the game is a lazy, cashed-in sequel however; far from it.

Everything that played perfectly in 2018 has been granted an extra level of mirror sheen, the combat feels even more tightened and refined than before, and the story is an epic befitting of mythology itself.

The big evolution from last time is Atreus is more active in combat, and the game takes on a co-operative element in the intense sequences.

The artistic choice to keep the camera locked behind Kratos' back led to an innovative workaround to get Atreus involved in the action - because Kratos' sight is fairly limited, you will have to call on Atreus in the heat of action to dispatch of foes, and here, the game goes from "excellent" to "spectacular."

Atreus' AI is absolutely spectacular, and by the end of your journey, you will become as attached to the character as Kratos.

'Ragnarök' walks the fine line between 2010's 'God Of War 3' with its bombastic gameplay and the more refined, cerebral storytelling chops of the 2018 reboot, and for that reason alone, it is a miracle of game design.

Father and Son

At the heart of 'Ragnarök' is the relationship between Kratos and Atreus, and in a word, the relationship is the best video game pairing since Joel and Ellie in 'The Last Of Us'.

The relationship between the pair was the main driving force behind the first game, and here, the relationship is front and centre.

Between all the massively bloody and spectacular set pieces that make 'God Of War' one of the best action franchises around, the core dynamic at the centre is what keeps you coming back for more.

As we've written over the last year, the medium of video games allows developers to tell more in-depth, affecting stories in a way that film and television can't, and by the end of 'Ragnarök', you will have a Bergman-esque insight into what makes this father-son dynamic tick.

The relationship between Kratos and his young lad is at the heart of 'Ragnarök'

With 'Ragnarök', the 'God Of War' series has now established itself as a classic series on a par with 'The Legend Of Zelda' - albeit a much bloodier one.

Kratos has become PlayStation's unlikely mascot, and the screaming Greek madman (who looks like the frontman of your mate's punk band) is one of gaming's most memorable characters.

Voice actors deserve just as much credit as the developers for bringing the game world to life, and the vocal performance of Christopher Judge as Kratos is spectacular, with his Barry White style voice a treat to listen to no matter how many hours you are into the game.

Fans of 'The West Wing' will be surprised to hear that the great Richard Schiff has lent his vocal talents to the game, and it is surreal to hear Toby in a Norse setting.

The voice acting is first-rate, and if you ever want an example of how crucial a voice actor is to the video game process, look no further than Christopher Judge's performance here.

The promise of Kratos raising hell in the Norse era has kept fan excitement at fever pitch for years, and the game makes the most of the setting.

Lush, sweeping landscapes are often painted red with enough blood to satisfy Jason Voorhees, and there are some imaginative imaginings of figures from Norse mythology.

We suspect there will be some online discourse about the game taking liberties with Norse mythology, but we also don't remember a bald Greek lad called Kratos appearing in our school textbooks, either.

If 'Ragnarök' has a problem, it's the pacing.

After a while, the stop/start pacing becomes repetitive, and the game can't quite get the balance right between combat, slow walking that fleshes out the narrative and puzzles.

This was also a problem with the 2018 game, and to a lesser extent, other games in the series, and it's a shame that the series still can't quite juggle all the elements successfully.

While undoubtedly a fantastic game, in fact we're going so far as to say it's a contender for Game Of The Year, 'Ragnarök' isn't quite a revolutionary sequel as say, the likes of 'Half-Life 2' or 'Mass Effect 2'.

Of course, 'Ragnarök' doesn't need to reinvent the wheel, it just needs to do everything that 'God Of War' did in 2018 and convince you that the PlayStation 5 is worth investing in.

On those merits, 'Ragnarök' is a true killer app.

After the initial 5 to 6 hours that sets up the game and introduces you to the stakes and setting of the world, the game opens up just like the 2018 version and in that moment, you feel the game could go in just about any direction it pleases.

In the end, 'Ragnarök' tries to shy away from bolder story elements that would truly put it over the top, but as we are aware of spoilers, we will let readers be the judge of that.

All in all, 'Ragnarök' is the cap for a stellar year for Sony, and at this stage of the console generation, the PlayStation 5 is starting to run away with the crown.

If you are still on the fence about what console to buy, seeing 'Ragnarök' in motion and feeling the controller rumble in your hands will be enough to get you to shell out for a PlayStation 5.