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God of War Ragnarok | Almost everything to please

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We have the impression of being choosy by expressing reservations about God of War Ragnarok. But even served by magnificent graphics, gripping fights, moving moments and ingenious puzzles, the sequel to the game launched in 2018 gets lost in a convoluted and somewhat repetitive story.

Landing on the shelves on November 9, God of War Ragnarok follows a sensational reboot which had inherited three Game Awards, including that of best game. To say that it was expected is an understatement: the simple announcement of its upcoming release in September 2020 had made the event and the trailers drip releases have fueled the fervor of millions of fans.

We’ve had it in our hands for two weeks and first impressions have lived up to it. Already ambitious graphically in 2018, God of War Ragnarok is more beautiful than ever, in this third-person adventure set in nine realms of Norse mythology.

Many questions

To refresh our memory, we are offered a summary of the previous episode, where Kratos and his son Atreus begin a quest to scatter the ashes of the wife and mother, Faye. This time, the grumbling mountain of muscle, former Spartan general turned Greek god of war, and his grown-up teenager must face the father of the Gods, Odin, in the final battle of Ragnarök.

But do they really have to? Are there no other solutions than to fight to stop a war? And why do the giants call young Atreus, who discovers his terrifying powers, “Loki”? It will take a lot of time, battles, and kingdoms visited to answer, and we won’t reveal those secrets here. We can see it straight away, the guideline in Ragnarök and its anthology of characters are far from being as clear as in 2018.

If those who appreciated the mechanics of the first game are quickly on familiar ground, we gradually discover rather successful innovations. Chaos Blades, Kratos’ second weapon along with his axe, are now used for climbing, moving large objects, or setting enemies on fire. The RPG aspect, where you constantly improve your equipment with materials, money and magic items gleaned during the adventure, is not too daunting and gives the player some nice challenges. Supremely useful function, one can with a single key request the best automatic choice, among the hundreds of possible combinations, according to the desired criterion of strength, defense, runic power, vitality, chance or renewal.

And the developers have allowed themselves a little guilty pleasure: you can finish off weakened enemies with a devastating finishing blow, which varies according to the type of opponent and will cut them in half or cut their heads off in a river of blood.


SCREENSHOT

Delicious dialogues

The battles are followed by puzzles to cross the kingdoms or collect runes. They are numerous, often demanding and come back quickly. Turn a crank to unblock a channel, freeze water to make it overflow and spin a wheel, reach three hidden runes in an almost impossible time to open a chest, send Atreus to open a door to jam another… The variants are numerous.

In terms of narration, the screenwriters from Sony’s Santa Monica studio are masters of the genre. Very little agreed upon dialogue here, the frequent arguments between Kratos and Atreus, between the father who wants to protect and the son who wants to wage war, are finely crafted. And where Kratos is content with a grunt, his friend Mimir, a talking head inherited from the previous opus, takes care of the conversation. Thumbs up also for two secondary characters often in the action, the dwarfs Sindri and Brok, very funny, often relevant and always as good with their hands.

As for the enemies, we are treated to a new exotic fauna, from white and dark elves with calamities that crawl on the ground, orbs floating in the air, to reptiles spewing poisonous acid. The “bosses”, on the other hand, are bigger than ever and require the perfect combination to parry their blows, send arrows thanks to Atreus and tap them in a fit of Spartan Rage.

The teenager, on the other hand, has taken the lead and is himself the character to be controlled in certain parallel adventures which will help him discover his true personality. He’s not as powerful as his father and the devs give us the thumbs up to only send him more vulnerable enemies.

Clear goal requested

All these aspects, from the graphics to the game mechanics to the dialogues, are simply magnificent. But this succession of fights and puzzles turns out to be rather repetitive after about ten hours, even if the environments and enemies change and new ways of defeating them have to be found. Above all, it is difficult to embark on a story that promises to be very long, with its nine kingdoms to unlock, without understanding exactly where it all leads us. Is it old fashioned to prefer a clear goal to a profusion of tracks and quests, however well constructed? We assume, even if it is likely that millions of players, old and new, will find their happiness there.

  • God of War Ragnarok
  • For PS4 and PS5
  • Tried on a PS5 with a copy provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Released: November 9, 2022
  • Price: $89.99
  • Rating: 9 out of 10



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