Note: This article has been translated from Italian by ChatGPT and may contain errors.
God of War Ragnarök does The Last of Us better than The Last of Us, but it forgets a part of its original nature. This is my thought as the end credits mark the “end” of Kratos and Atreus second Norse adventure. In my opinion, the 2018 God of War wasn’t a masterpiece: it left me puzzled in certain aspects, including some parts of the story and the bosses. From this sequel, I essentially expected one thing: many, beautiful, and spectacular bosses. Mission accomplished? Not quite…
WARNING: THE ARTICLE CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS!!!
New game, same game
God of War Ragnarök is what is commonly referred to as “more of the same.” Essentially, it’s the same stuff from 2018 with a few tweaks here and there. Same gameplay, in other words, but with new (more or less) settings, new bosses, and a new story, or rather, its natural continuation. Let’s start with the latter. Whether you believe it or not, I found the story satisfying. I found it considerably more engaging and captivating than that of the previous episode. While it might not have a particularly fast pace and carries a certain weight (also due to the choice of the continuous shot), the charisma of the characters and the excellent dialogue captured my interest from start to finish, with some moments more impactful than others. The sections where you play as Atreus are perhaps what interested me the most, especially those in Asgard. They turned out to be very pleasant narrative interludes to follow, and I was curious to find out where the mask would lead… Narratively, therefore, I enjoyed God of War Ragnarök, from the father-son relationship to the new personality of Kratos (which this time felt less forced), to showcasing the human side of the antagonists. In this sense, we are facing a work that is much more mature than what we’ve seen in the series so far, clearly drawing inspiration from works like The Last of Us. Moreover, it seemed to me that it even took a little jab at The Last of Us Part II, which was strongly criticized by many for the authors’ final choice regarding non-revenge (if you’ve finished God of War Ragnarök, you might understand what I mean). All in all, despite the “debt” to Naughty Dog‘s title, I appreciated Ragnarök’s narrative more than that of The Last of Us (particularly Part II).
If we shift our focus to the gameplay, however, God of War Ragnarök only partially satisfied me. It took a while for me to get into it. It offers passable gameplay, but not an exciting one. The main questline is interrupted by side tasks that are often of low quality and excessively repetitive, and the combat system is almost the same as the previous installment (including many finishers), eventually becoming somewhat monotonous. It’s a good game, yes, but not mind-blowing. From this perspective, the developers could have put more effort into it.
God of War = bosses… or maybe not?
If there’s one thing that has characterized the series since God of War II, it’s the bosses and their spectacle. Some negatively define God of War III as a mere sequence of bosses; for me, that was its strong point. From Ragnarök, I wanted exactly that: set-pieces and bosses galore. Did I get that? Not exactly. The slow pacing, especially in the first half of the story (excluding the initial encounter with Thor), often made me wonder when something truly cool would happen, when I would face a boss that would truly excite me. Unfortunately, this practically never happened. Not even in the final battle, which could have lasted longer and dared more. In terms of the number and variety of bosses, we’re certainly above the 2018 title, but in terms of spectacle and epicness, not really. This means that, in my personal opinion, a game like God of War III remains unbeaten in this regard. It’s a pity, because the elements to do better were there. The encounters are less “gigantic” and more “intimate,” less brutal and less violent. Like the previous work, this one also lacks the violence and cruelty that have always characterized the series.
PS: The issue of puzzles that solve themselves… I don’t give about it! They’re often quite crappy and break the rhythm.
God of War Ragnarök has proven to be a good experience, especially on the narrative front, supported by enjoyable gameplay. It’s not to be rejected, but it’s not to be rewarded either due to the often calm, slow, reflective, diluted, and guided progression (with walking simulator-like phases). I admit that at this point, I crave fast-paced games more focused on action, with a rhythm that leaves little breathing room for the player. I miss experiences of that kind a bit, and perhaps in this sense, The Last of Us has done more harm than good at Sony (and beyond). God of War Ragnarök could have excelled at both aspects, but it hit the target only partially. The bosses, the epicness, and the spectacle of the action, appearing intermittently, didn’t manage to satisfy me as much as I would have liked, leaving me with the typical bitter taste. In any case, I also appreciated the deeper and more mature vein of the story and Kratos and his son. To conclude, I would say this: God of War Ragnarök is like the 2018 God of War, just a little bit better.