How do you review a game that’s technically great, but doesn’t provide much for you beyond a great visual experience and an occasional interesting story beat? That was my greatest concern when sitting down to finalize my thoughts on God of War as a game and as a PC experience. Because the reality is that God of War wasn’t just popular when it came out on PS4, it was heralded as one of the greatest games for years. Finally being a part of the people who played the game and not feeling what they felt led to an interesting experience.
God of War is a lore heavy game with a seemingly endless supply of pickups, quests, and side dialogue centered around Norse mythology and the relationship between a father, Kratos, and his young son Atreus. I played a very small portion of it on the PS4 and, while a bit clunky, it was one of the smoothest games I played on my console at the time. With the game releasing on PC, the question became, “Can I actually play it?” I have a decently built PC set up, but it’s by no means the most advanced, future-proof one a person can have. When the specs first released, I was pleasantly surprised to find that with a gaming PC, it seemed playable. Well, here’s how that went.
As most PC ports do, God of War offers plenty of settings that allow you to customize and tailor the game to whatever you have. Frankly, as someone with a more simplistic setup, I was able to keep a lot of the settings at their default state without the game’s quality suffering. Aside from the annoying splitting of the different subtitle settings into two different categories, I was satisfied with what was offered.
Really, I don’t have much to say regarding the PC port. I changed up a few graphical settings, like lighting and shadows to suit my taste, turned on vsync so the game ran smoothly with my lower end monitor, and I was good to go. God of War ran great on the PS4, and if you have a simple computer, it’s great on the PC as well.
Moving through the world as Kratos is an interesting and varied experience. The environments are genuinely beautiful. Even when I lowered my settings, the details never really suffered. As the camera follows behind Kratos’ shoulder, you get a full view of one of the game’s strongest points. Beyond that, God of War’s more mundane exploration moments or enemy encounters are filled with sweet observations from Atreus as he educates Kratos on the lessons and stories his mother told him before her passing. Those were the moments I really enjoyed. The space where Kratos and Atreus could just exist outside of fighting and killing.
Unfortunately the slightly clunky camera remains and battles didn’t always play out smoothly because of it. Transitioning from walking around the world to fighting a mob or large troll-like creature was a bit jarring. Movements end up stiff and oddly fast. Also, these are my very personal game pet peeves, but God of War lacks a real jump (something I’m always looking for). Boss battles can end up repetitive or even worse, feeling like they’re inconsequential and only in the game to prolong a narrative, not to test your actual skills.
The first hour or two of the game was enjoyable, though. Kratos smashing a fist into a chest to open it is fun. I’m a sucker for brute strength, and that’s all you get with him. Surprisingly, as I played more of the game, I realized I was less concerned about how it held up on my PC and more curious about the reception. The PS4 version of God of War that most are familiar with is four years old, and the relevancy of the story at that time is up for debate. However, now I feel the age of its narrative more than ever.
While Kratos struggles with finally having to father his child, Atreus struggles with the loss of a loving mother whose importance we only hear about from a taciturn father who expects the impossible out of him. I know God of War is the dad game. I suppose I simply wasn’t expecting the flavor of dad that Kratos provided, especially when you learn of Atreus’ mother who managed to be extremely strong, yet still loving.
Sure, you can say Kratos shows his love for his son in plenty of ways. Like when he fights almost to the brink of death to protect him or shows him how to survive in the world. Ultimately, every gruff correction and harsh verbal lesson took some of the shine off those moments. Seeing Kratos reach out to comfort his child, only to pull back and teach him how to be a warrior instead pushed me further away from the emotionality of the scene. Moments between Kratos and Atreus that aren’t laced with aggression almost feel undeserved. Kratos has to be strong. He can’t allow himself to show weaknesses in moments that will cost him and his son their lives. Yet moments between just the two of them remain cold and unsatisfying. Circumstances make the man. That doesn’t mean I have to like who he becomes.
I wish Kratos felt more deserving of his son’s love and respect. I wish the moments of him attempting to be a good father only to draw back weren’t so prevalent. Overall, God of War feels like a game made with a specific audience in mind, and I don’t fall into its parameters. Regardless though, the God of War PC port holds up well, gameplay remains similar, and it can be accessible to people with a variety of rigs. For that reason alone, it may be worth a shot.
God of War is available on the PS4 and PS5. It will be released on PC via Steam on January 14, 2022.