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Posted by IGN on Monday, March 19, 2018
These are some of the first words that Kratos says to his son, Atreus, in the opening moments of God of War, and while he’s referring to the ever-changing Norse world of Midgard, the developers at Sony Santa Monica could just as easily have been speaking about the franchise.
Kratos, a one-note combustion engine of rage in the original God of War trilogy, has grown up and become a father who’s terrified that he’ll pass his anger on to his son. He can still tear his enemies literally in half – we did that quite a bit in our three hours of hands-on time with the game – but there’s a difference here, an emotional depth and true sense of purpose that was missing from his time scaling Mount Olympus.
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Likewise, God of War’s combat, traversal, and sense of exploration have evolved with the times. Shades of Uncharted, The Last of Us, and even the Dark Souls trilogy show up in interesting and impactful ways, but the phenomenal opening hours feel like so much more than that. Sony Santa Monica has taken the iconic PlayStation franchise and found a way for it to grow up without losing what made it special in the first place.
Everything’s different, but try not to dwell on it, because different can often mean better.
From the second you take control of Kratos in the game’s opening moments (which we won’t spoil here), it’s clear that this is a more thoughtful, tender take on a character who has never been much of either.
The move to Midgard has brought with it a Kratos who is making an effort to be patient, but struggles with keeping his anger beneath the surface. At multiple points in the opening hours of the game, Kratos reaches out a compassionate hand toward his son but then hesitates, a father who truly cares but isn’t yet comfortable showing it. For the first time, a character we’ve only ever known as a literal god feels vulnerable, which makes him the most relatable he’s ever been.