This year, Santa Monica Studios took a franchise that looked to be tiring after Ascension and transformed it into a cinematic powerhouse that said goodbye to its Greek roots in favour of an equally-fascinating world full to the brim of Norse mythos. No longer the hacking and slashing war machine he was, Kratos adopts a more deliberate, challenging and tactical form of bladed warfare as he fights to protect the boy.
From the first brutal showdown with Baldur, we knew God of War was going to be special and exploring Midgard, along with the many other fantastical realms, was a true treat and is another example of that sublime Sony first-party world-building. It’s hard to imagine where Santa Monica will go from here. Obviously, the game’s ending suggests we’ll visit Midgard again, though how do you find a rung higher on the ladder than God of War?
In his review, Shannon wrote: “God of War is a cinematic masterpiece that manages to reinvent and push an already fantastic series to new heights. Barring some pacing issues in its narrative, Sony Santa Monica have breathed new life into Kratos and the God of War series, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Shannon gave God of War a 9 out of 10 while praising its satisfying combat, stunning visuals and its portrayal of Norse mythology. God of War has managed to maintain a Metascore of 94.
Shannon chose God of War in his top ten and said: “I didn’t give God Of War a 10/10, but it stuck with me more than any other game this year (and perhaps this generation). I was always a massive God of War fan, but this game did such a great job at making the world feel expansive and worth exploring, despite the fact that it was quite a controlled experience. Cory and his team should be tremendously happy with what they were able to pull off, and I’m so glad it’s our Game of the Year.”
Josh chose God of War in his top ten and said: “The gold standard for reinventing your franchise. Not only did the Norse setting allow for an epic story to unfold it made sense for Kratos, but it also gave him purpose and crazily enough made him the perfect vessel for the player to inhabit. It felt like the first step on a new journey that will eventually reach the same insane heights of the original series, Kratos opening himself back up to the world he continues to draw ripples through. In terms of gameplay, we had a mix of action styles that felt both contemporary and traditional, Kratos adapting to the world around him and as the journey went on, to Atreus as well. The characters more than the story itself remain with you after the final revelation, with well-realised arcs and growth. I cannot wait to see what Atreus becomes and how he can continue to heal what is left of Kratos after so much pain.”
Kieron chose God of War in his top ten and said: “Boy. I have to admit, I didn’t believe in God of War leading up to release. The series had started to stagnate, and the new perspective and concept felt like Santa Monica Studio were trying to shoehorn the no-longer-relevant Kratos into the modern PlayStation single-player action adventure template. Worst of all, Sony were showing off barely any of the game even right up to launch day, which felt like a sign of disaster. Imagine the relief and joy (and slight embarrassment) when it turned out to be not only the best God of War game yet, but easily one of the best games this generation. More than just another nice looking, linear first-party PlayStation game, God of War is a complete reinvention of the series and in a lot of ways the entire genre that it occupies. There are so many things that the game does that could have been a death sentence if not executed perfectly, but much like Kratos’ new weapon of choice, this one’s completely off the chain.”
Matt chose God of War in his top ten and said: “2018 brought forth one of the greatest character reinventions we’ve seen in a long time. Before this year, thinking of “God of War” would conjure up thoughts and images of ultraviolence and unbridled sexual prowess in the form of Kratos, the demi-god who sought to exact vengeance on all of Olympus and the gods within it for the fate that he had been dealt. However, it was inevitable that we would see him again; the ending to the third instalment made that abundantly clear.
In a shift from Greek to Norse mythology, God of War shook the foundations of the Kratos that we knew; placing him in a new world with the burden of his past as he attempts to move on. Following the death of his wife, Kratos is forced to raise his young son Atreus on his own. As a stranger in a strange land, Kratos sets out with his son to fulfil a promise made to his wife; but along the way they are faced with challenges that test their bonds (as well as Kratos’ patience) in an epic adventure that not only reinvents a character that we knew but captivates us with great narrative poise.”
Congratulations to Santa Monica Studios for God of War, a wonderful soft-reboot for a series that had already achieved so much. Boy, there wasn’t a game better in 2018.
The Top 10: 1. God of War
2. Marvel’s Spider-Man
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
4. Red Dead Redemption 2
6. Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee
7. Dead Cells
8. A Way Out
9. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey