Can you believe that it's already been one whole year since God of War launched? Sony just celebrated the game's anniversary by releasing a bunch of free avatars and a PlayStation 4 theme, and it got me thinking about just how good God of War is as an action adventure title. I think it's a game that oozes quality in a way that few others can match, and here, one year later, I reckon that's worth reiterating.
I didn't get the pleasure of reviewing God of War -- that honour fell to the one and only Sammy Barker. Sammy gave the title a 10/10, and once I'd finished the game myself a couple of weeks later, it was a score that I couldn't argue with. Between its tight focus on exploration and its excellent combat system, the base gameplay is outstanding. It's just the right blend of quieter moments bookended by brutality, and it's all topped off by a really good story that's excellently acted. I think overall, it's an incredibly difficult game to fault.
But for me, perhaps the most impressive part of God of War is its direction. Not just in the way that it somehow manages to cram everything into a single, unbroken shot (which is something that still totally blows my mind), but in the way that every aspect of the game comes together to form this ultra-cohesive whole. The art style, the character designs, the layout of the world, the boss battles, the story beats -- it all just snaps into place pretty much perfectly.
I think God of War's a prime example of a game that has a clear and distinct vision. A lot of titles, these days especially, attempt to try their hand at a lot of different things, and the core vision becomes blurred as a result. I think just about everything that God of War does, it does to serve its creative purpose, and the result is what many would describe as a masterpiece. For the record, I don't think God of War is a perfect game -- I would even argue that some aspects, like the light RPG elements, are somewhat unnecessary additions -- but even with my most critical eye, it's all but impossible to find something that's truly worth picking at.
However, the praise shouldn't stop there. It's surprisingly easy to forget that God of War as a concept was once a much, much different beast. The series saw so much success on PS2 and PS3 thanks to its satisfying combat and stunning cinematic moments, but if Kratos was to make his return, he would have to reforge his identity -- another God of War: Ascension wasn't going to cut it.
Not only did developer Sony Santa Monica reboot God of War as a series, it also continued Kratos' story. How many times have we seen not only games, but movies and TV shows reboot themselves while simultaneously discarding what had come before? God of War on PS4 looks and feels like an entirely new entity, but at the same time, it fully embraces the series' past. It's crazy to think that the studio didn't just pull this off -- it smashed it out of the park.
One year later and God of War still stands as one of the PS4's absolute best games. It's a title that should be held aloft whenever someone mentions quality, or the benefits of sticking to a clear creative vision. It's also a game that, after writing this article, I desperately need to play all over again.
Do you feel the same way about God of War? Will you be revisiting Kratos and the boy any time soon? Hurl an axe into the comments section below.