‘God of War Ragnarok’ design, acting elevate storytelling

0 0

The “God of War” franchise has never been afraid to take narrative chances. The series has been retconned here and there, and that hasn’t stopped developers from telling compelling stories about Kratos and his complicated relationship with the gods.

With the second part of his saga, Sony’s Santa Monica Studios essentially gave Kratos a fresh slate and a new mission. The god who slaughtered the entire Greek pantheon had to be a single dad for his son, Atreus. The boy’s mother, Laufey, recently died, and the first game of the new series focused on the journey to spread her ashes on the tallest peak of the Nine Realms.

“God of War” (2018) was a masterpiece because of its tight thematic storytelling and revamped gameplay. The sequel, “God of War Ragnarok,” takes place a few years later, and under new director Eric Williams, it’s a project that’s more sprawling as it juggles several motifs.

It follows the natural progression of a father-son relationship as Kratos is dealing with a teenager who’s looking for an identity amid a fantasy Norse world where prophecy and fate weigh heavy on his mind. Atreus is mentioned in a few foretellings. At the same time, Kratos has his own demons and fears as he worries about the path his son is taking and what the boy’s life would be like if he were to die.

Kratos, left, and his son, Atreus, meet Tyr in “God of War Ragnarok.” (Sony Interactive Entertainment) 

The setup presents an intriguing but stifling dynamic for the first third of “Ragnarok.” Despite its chaotic first scene with a vengeful Freya, the structure at the start is slow and confined, as it follows a father being so overprotective of his son that the boy is struggling to grow.

That conflict is reflected in the level design and gameplay, which is both familiar and constrained. Kratos and Atreus follow a mostly linear path with hints of a bigger world waiting to be unlocked and explored. It’s not until Atreus sneaks out for his own adventure and the narrative switches to his perspective that players experience a transition to more freedom.

It’s one of the rare moments when the franchise doesn’t follow Kratos, and that also happens to be when the campaign stretches out and truly begins. It explores the gameplay potential of another character.

Freya in God of War Ragnarok
Frey doesn’t exactly see eye to eye with Kratos at the beginning of “God of War Ragnarok.” In fact, she’s actively trying to kill him after he and his son kill Baldur in the 2018 “God of War.”(Sony Interactive Entertainment) 

The controls for Atreus are similar to those for his father, but his specialization with the bow and arrow makes him feel fundamentally different. His combat is focused on ranged attacks though he can still deal melee blows. In addition, his progression system is less developed compared to the battle-hardened Kratos. He doesn’t have access to as many skills or mod tokens.

These details make “Ragnarok” cohesive despite Santa Monica Studios playing with so many themes and characters. Compared to the previous entry, the campaign is more epic rather than intimate with a bigger cast, including Odin (Richard Schiff), who’s charismatically played like a caring mob boss with the Aesir run like the Mafia. The All-Father acts more like the Godfather rather than a demanding tyrant.

Meanwhile, Christopher Judge puts in a noteworthy performance as Kratos. Santa Monica Studios’ staff should also get praise for how it amplifies Judge’s slightest expressions into scene-stealing moments. It’s phenomenal work that elevates the storytelling as Kratos and Atreus learn to accept their changing dynamic amid the dire prophecy of an upcoming war.

Kratos in God of War Ragnarok
Kratos has new gear to use and that introduces more complexity that can be intimidating to players. (Sony Interactive Entertainment) 

As for Kratos’ gameplay and the game’s level design, “Ragnarok” builds on the intense and visceral combat of the 2018 title. Players now have more time to play with the Blades of Chaos, and the progression system rewards players with mod tokens that amplify new skills. It encourages more exploration of the combat system while also being gratifying.

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.