God of War crushes it with epic launch for PC

God of War, which rocked the PS4 in 2018, has finally graced the PC with the angriest gaming protagonist – and most awkward father. The fantastic scenery, sound design, and action make this my favorite game of the new year.

Atreus (l.) and his father Kratos are both working on controlling their anger in the new God of War release.
Atreus (l.) and his father Kratos are both working on controlling their anger in the new God of War release.  © Screenshot/GodofWar/SantaMonicaStudios

Santa Monica Studio and PlayStation knocked the PC version of God of War, out of the park, and it was a joy to play this cinematic slice of console excellence on the PC at long last.

The game's launch on Friday worked like a charm, and so did preloading the game via Steam. It quickly let me hop into the mystical world of the fourth God of War game, and guide Kratos and his son Atreus through a Nordic journey filled to the brim with Norse mythology.

At times glittering, at others gritty, the pacing of the plot set in exquisite locations made the story feel cinematic. The delicious sound effects, voice lines, and musical score carried me off to the dangerous fantasy realm to watch father and son take on the world together.

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Kratos is literally the God of War, after taking the title from Ares in the first game of the franchise, and the anger-fueled Spartan is now out to teach his son about surviving in an unforgiving place.

Their adventure is part coming of age journey, part anger-management lesson, and 100% poignant. The duo's heart-wrenching father-son relationship even had me wishing for Kratos to show his son some more tenderness.

Grade-A game mechanics

Put away that axe, Kratos, and take on the troll with your fists!
Put away that axe, Kratos, and take on the troll with your fists!  © Screenshot/GodofWar/SantaMonicaStudios

I had a blast with God of War's playstyles. The second-best part of the game, after its cinematic feel, is the impact of the combat.

Playing as Kratos on the lower difficulty settings truly feels like controlling the God of War – who has the mighty Leviathan Axe, the Guardian Shield, and two clenched fists at his disposal.

My favorite way to play this game is to stow the axe, and then go to town on hordes of undead warriors, spirits, and other Norse beasties with punches only.

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Atreus is a helpful little ally too, who scampers around enemies peppering them with arrows, and whose voice quips actually helped me dodge deadly blows more times than I can count.

That mix of visual and audio cues is what makes the fights rank high above other action games for me. Seeing incoming attacks from the front, hearing warnings from Atreus for flanking enemies, and handling fights like a nimble boxer was extra smooth.

Whirling in and out of danger, and marveling at the gorgeous fantasy realms of Midgard was such a polished experience, I'm gonna hop right back into the game after I finish writing this.

Nitpick: Make harder modes challenging, not work

Parrying blows is the only way to survive most fights, and it feels good and weighty.
Parrying blows is the only way to survive most fights, and it feels good and weighty.  © Screenshot/GodofWar/SantaMonicaStudios

I tried out the different difficulty settings, but as fun as it was to chop and punch my way through enemies on the easier modes, I didn't like the difficulty curve.

The game designers have made the game "harder" by cranking up the health bars on enemies, while turning our hero Kratos into a featherweight.

The hardest difficulty mode makes some fights feel more like work than play, especially when enemies hit harder than a freight train while you barely scratch them with furious combos.

But thankfully, the rest of the design choices work beautifully, like the designers' brilliant call to not make the player have to protect Atreus very often. Instead, he runs around the battlefields taking on foes with knife and bow, while you bring the smackdown with your axe, shield, and bare fists.

This game was worth the full price cost to me, but if you have waited this long and are patient enough, you could snag a decent discount by waiting for the Steam Spring or Summer Sales.

Overall, the new game is a mature sequel to the hack-and-slash adventures of Kratos, the God of War. It taps into the deep roots of the series with some truly moving moments, heavy-hitting combat, and beautiful set pieces.

Cover photo: Screenshot/GodofWar/SantaMonicaStudios

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