This is Sparta!
The oftentimes hectic nature of my work has calmed itself down, which gives me time for quiet, relaxing pursuits. All it means is, I have rekindled my relationship with my video game console.
However, instead of cavorting around ancient Egypt with Bayek of Siwa in “Assassin’s Creed Origins,” I’ve taken on the challenge afforded by another hero, Kratos of Sparta in “God of War 4,” developed by Santa Monica Studios and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for Playstation 4.
The game is directed by Cory Barlog, who also wrote it, alongside Matt Sophos and Richard Zangrande Gaubert.
I’ve only become acquainted with Kratos on the Playstation Portable eons ago. Rob and I have also checked out the demos of the other “God of War” games in the series, but this was the first time I made a commitment to finishing one of Kratos’ adventures. Here, he shares his screen time with his young son, Atreus, on a quest to scatter the ashes of the latter’s mother from the highest peak in all the nine realms.
A mysterious, tattooed stranger knocks on their door and picks a fight with Kratos, signaling the start of their adventure. Over the course of the journey, they meet other gods from Norse mythology: Freya (wife of Odin, now a witch in the forest), Baldur (invulnerable son of Odin and Freya, brother of Thor), Magni and Modi (Thor’s sons), Jörmungandr (The World Serpent, a friendly gigantic snake), and Mimir (once a counselor to Odin), as well as dwarves Brok and Sindri, who help them upgrade their weapons.
There are all sorts of creatures to kill, with each set getting progressively more difficult with every realm you visit.
As exciting as it is to lay these big baddies to waste, one big reason to stick to this game is the art of it. The graphics are breathtakingly beautiful, whether you’re roaming in Muspelheim surrounded by falling lava, strolling through the witch’s forest with its psychedelic colored leaves and flowers, or appreciating Alfheim’s flowers that flutter like butterflies.
The storytelling is also topnotch, with lines of dialogue eliciting many cackles as well as tears. And, finally, the voice acting is excellent.
As the two leads, Christopher Judge as Kratos and Sunny Suljic as Atreus banter in a fashion that is all too familiar when a parent and child are stuck together on an arduous journey to fulfill a loved one’s request. In their hands, the characters are three-dimensional and fully fleshed out.
Kratos isn’t just a war-mongering monster armed with his Leviathan Axe and those famous Blades of Chaos, hungry for nothing but mayhem and murder, but is now a feeling being, fully aware of his mortality despite being a demigod, himself a son of Zeus.
Gems of wisdom
He leaves behind gems of wisdom and knowledge, because like most parents, he wants only one thing: that his son grows to be much better than he is. One line he utters after Atreus commits an error is thus: “Don’t be sorry, be better.”
Atreus is what every little boy is. He can sometimes be the sweetest creature ever born, or a stubborn, arrogant snip of a human. However, throughout the game, you find yourself rooting for him every step of the way.
All the supporting actors (Jeremy Davies as Baldur, Danielle Bisutti as Freya, Alastair Duncan as Mimir, Robert Craighead as Brok and Adam J. Harrington as Sindri) deserve their due for their wonderful voice work.
As far as gameplay, there’s a slight learning curve if you’re not familiar with the Playstation dualshock controller, but thankfully, the game begins at an easy enough level that after exploration of your first environment, you start to get the hang of it.
“God of War 4” has been universally praised by critics for its storyline, world design, art direction, graphics, artwork, acting, music and gameplay. It is absolutely right to consider a game like this a true work of art, as it has the power to not just provide interactive entertainment, but also the power to move the heart.
I never thought I’d ever say that about a video game, but I just did. You don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate the beauty of “God of War 4.”
But, due to the extremely violent nature of the game, this title is for adults only.
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