The Ghost of Sparta makes his triumphant return after eight years away with God Of War. The new game is a perfect blend of gameplay and story, creating an outstanding experience that draws you into its world. The game shines through its characters and how they interact with the world. Kratos has changed his vengeful ways and is now a father teaching his son the ways of the world, trying to show him how to survive in a dangerous landscape. God Of War has peaked its head forward in the race for best game of the year but why is everyone falling in love with this soft reboot?

Kratos returns after killing the entirety of the Greek god pantheon. Years later, the God Of War has moved on, and now Kratos and his son, Atreus, set up a funeral pyre for his recently deceased wife Faye. This begins they’re journey of fulfilling her last wish to have her ashes scattered from the highest peak in all the realms. While Kratos is concerned that his son isn’t ready for such a dangerous trip, a stranger arrives at the house who forces them to leave. With that, Kratos and Atreus set out into the wilds of Midgard where they must overcome the creatures of Norse Mythology as they make their way to the top of the mountain.

The core of the game is the relationship between Kratos and Atreus. Kratos has put his past behind him hiding it from his son, something that builds tension between their relationship. These secrets spiral throughout the game, making countless problems for the two protagonists. Atreus feels a great sadness and resentment, which is slowly revealed to the audience and his father.

Losing his mother and being forced to stay with Kratos has caused him much grief, which comes out in emotional outbursts. Considering he is a product of Kratos’ rough and incredibly strict parenting, creates more distance between the pair. These emotions are explored in conjunction with events that unfold and make for a dynamic adventure. Kratos is the personification of masculinity, he appears to be cold and distant from his son, and because of this great resentment has been built, but like anyone else he mourns and strives to shield his son from the horrors of the world. The story does such a great job of breaking down this boundary and turning these two from an emotionally inept duo, into an unstoppable team.

God Of War has updated its combat system with the addition of the Leviathan Axe which, unlike the Blades of Chaos (from the original games) is a close combat weapon that can also be thrown from afa,r dealing frost damage to crush Kratos’ enemies. At the start of the game, you have the choice of the axe or your fists/shield to take down enemies.

Using your fists will help stun enemies and allow you to perform takedown attacks to quickly finish off an encounter. Rather than having a bow like in other GOW games, you are granted the addition of Atreus who, on your command, will fire his arrows. His arrows will apply effects and debuffs, such as stuns, that will help Kratos dispatch an enemy quicker than before. You will also acquire different powers for his bow as the pair progress, helping with enemies and puzzles alike.

Through the game, you will acquire a second weapon that will allow you to take on different enemies that might be immune to frost damage. All your weapons can be improved through skill upgrades, different armour sets and runic attacks which can be equipped on to your weapons to unleash devastating attacks.

The customisation gives you the option to create your own Kratos, choosing your armour, your runic attacks and skills. While you can eventually gain all the skills in the game at the beginning,  choosing what skills suit your play style will help you combat your enemies with ease. Your armour can give you different attributes that will enhance your abilities making you stronger. Finding the right balance and the right skills for you is the challenge. You can even choose the right equipment for Atreus by giving him different traits, either aiding you in combat or healing you during battle.

One of the most appealing aspects of God Of War is just how visually stunning the game is, the cutscenes transition seamlessly into gameplay making the whole experience feel like one long interconnected story without breaking away from the action for a cutscene. The graphics are even more impressive through the PlayStation Pro’s enhanced graphics; just watching the game as you move through the environments is breathtaking. Even travelling in your boat while sailing the terrain can be an enchanting endeavour.

This open-world experience will stay in your life for hours upon hours. The main story is only the tip of the iceberg, the catalyst that drives Kratos to new locations within the nine realms where you can begin your exploration and discover new stories. Each world gives you the chance to find many different events including The Wayward Spirits of the Lake Of The Nine, The Trials of Muspelheim and defeating the corrupted Valkyries. All these tasks will keep you busy and improve your overall equipment. These tasks might be difficult or inaccessible at the early stages of the game but as you level up you will be able to take on these challenges with ease, gaining more and more experience.

God Of War really shows off the evolution of video games, better graphics, better mechanics and more meaningful story. A game that will take hold of you and won’t let go even while you’re away from your console. With so much to explore it is clear that the developers have put their heart and soul into making this the best gaming experience yet. Video games are forever changing taking on new ideas and gameplay, God Of War shows off this in the best way. The five years off really help make this series even better and we are sure to see more from this new GOW series in the next couple of years.