Kratos and Atreus are back… to play tricks on us? Not ours, but Odin has a lot to worry about. Here is our test of God of War Ragnarök on PS5.
Ragnarök is approaching and only two people can possibly save us. Kratos and Atreus are back in new adventures, after the adventures of God of War (2018), which had propelled them into full Norse mythology. The two heroes resume the course of their story, a few years later, when Fimbulvetr descends on the nine kingdoms and Ragnarök threatens to kill all the Aesir gods.
As if we had never left Midgard, Sony offers us to get back on the bandwagon with this opus, which is intended to be a conclusion to the Nordic saga. As expected, the studio promises us a grandiloquent finale, and given the legacy left by the previous opus, the task is difficult. God of War Ragnarok did he succeed in warming our hearts? The answer in this test.
A family story
The trailers being rather discreet about the general framework of the game, we will refrain from making any comments on this subject, and we will let you discover the ins and outs of the story for yourself. It should be noted all the same that god of War Ragnarök serves us an extremely appetizing dish, which turns out, after just a few minutes, to be an even more delicious dish than it looks.
Kratos and Atreus resume their business where they left off, and find themselves confronted with characters who are making a comeback for many, or who we are impatiently discovering for some. Overall, we’re not really stepping out of our comfort zone with this new album. Sony is resting on extremely solid foundations and would be wrong to deprive itself of the effectiveness of the latest game. Usually, this lack of originality is enough to put us off, but in the case of God of War Ragnarök, we are surprised to appreciate above all this familiarity, like the impression of having experienced the release of the first opus of the Nordic trilogy just a few days ago.
To perfect the experience, the studio even offers you a summary of the previous part, a delicate attention that quickly makes us hang up the wagons. And that’s good because we literally jump on the bandwagon from the first hour of play. Santa Monica Studio is putting on a spectacular staging to carry its strong narration, which is not to displease us so the studio masters the twists and turns.
The intensity, and the length, of the cinematized scenes is a point which could put off some of them since the player is placed in a rather passive position, at least during the first few hours of play. These lay the foundations of a story mixing action and family dilemma, all carried by a father / son duo as conflicted as in 2018, although a certain emerging complicity is visible in this opus.
Atreus has grown up and maturity comes with its share of misadventures, which will put a strain on his place within the universal order, and at the very heart of his little recomposed family. It is also very often he who leads the dance, Kratos being relegated to the rank of understanding father (but not naive). What to prepare the rest of the franchise god of war ? Nothing is less certain, but Santa Monica Studio cleverly places its pawns. A way also for the studio to approach the themes of paternity and puberty, which intertwine to provide us with a narration that is not only current but also timeless.
The hatchet already on the battlefield
Our initiatory quest therefore resumes with renewed vigor, this time leading us slowly but surely towards Ragnarök. All the kingdoms are affected, so a solution must be found – pacifist or not – as soon as possible. Combat is therefore an extremely important part of the game, which rests on the solid foundations of the previous title. The feeling of resuming the adventure along the way continues since we start with the two weapons that we had at the end of God of War (2018) and that we are dealing with the same types of enemies.
However, we are entitled to some new features, including Bifröst attacks or certain skills that allow us to change the gameplay during combat. These enjoy great versatility, a familiar dynamism and an effective level design most of the time. Nothing new under the ground… the blizzard, the players will easily resume their marks.
The interface, however, benefits from a small visual overhaul. If everything seems a little less clear to us at first glance, it’s mainly because the studio has pushed customization a little further. The skills tree, for example, is more complete and comes in an organization that pushes you to exploit all the resources you have. Some skills do indeed earn from a certain number of uses in combat, so you can’t rest on your laurels.
Everything obviously remains in the image of the god of war, bloodthirsty and merciless. Fans of the franchise can be reassured, Sony does not water down its universe and despite the cold ambient, Kratos is warm-blooded. Dismemberment, cutting in two or decapitation, everything is allowed in this last chance opus. In war as in war.
Unlike the first opuses, the Nordic saga of god of war is not all blood and battle. Kratos is a new man, a dad, who reinvents himself over the games, and this one could well be the one of maturity. Like the previous one, the studio emphasizes the exploratory aspect of the title, so you will have to count many extra hours if you want to survey every corner and collect every object.
Several skills will be required to unlock all areas. If we have most thanks to god of war (2018), some new ones are appearing which further complicates the paths of thought. The level design is therefore designed in accordance with this desire, always pushing the player to seek devious means to achieve his objective. It’s a game of chess from which you can always come away victorious, even if it has to be done afterwards.
An avalanche of sensations
God of War Ragnarok is graphic, certainly, but of an extreme softness to the eye when one stops on the details of the environment. Already in 2018, the studio had been awarded for its mastery of the graphic and animation tools which had made the reputation of the franchise. Once again, his work is dazzling. The sets and the characters seem more real than life, and this impression of photorealism is all the more gripping during the cutscenes which offer us an immersion worthy of action films.
Obviously the transition to the new generation helps a lot in the design of the scenes, which gain in elements, fluidity and naturalness. Ray-tracing allows him to faithfully transcribe the play of shadow and light, especially on the very numerous metal objects in-game. If we had to quibble, it seems that there are sometimes too many reflections for it to be perfectly realistic, but it’s barely noticeable for anyone who doesn’t dwell on this point.
From the snow, to the waterways, to the larger environments (we won’t say which ones), everything is absolutely awe-inspiring. The DualSense also allows you to immerse yourself a little more, in particular thanks to the haptic feedback which reproduces the interactions of the characters with their universe, a real plus for this type of game. The score completes the whole thing with a strong soundtrack and gripping, of the same ilk as the war which is preparing in the world of the gods Ases. It’s always a treat for the ears and a great motivation during fights.