I’m about 15 hours in, I just met Mimir which feels like a halfway point in the narrative. Here are some quickfire thoughts:
The combat is fine. It takes hours to get occasionally good and it feels like it has been hacked together in order to accommodate the over-the-shoulder camera. Throwing and recovering the axe is rad but I think that’s mostly down to the over-produced audio-visual feedback you get from absolutely everything in this game. Again, I think that’s there to compensate for the fact the game feels like they picked a camera perspective to reflect the narrative themes and then had to build a game about crowd-control rather than the more expressive mechanics of the previous games. So now everything needs to whoosh and crunch and generally look and sound like a MMO’s level-up effect to feel good.
The bosses have sucked, which is a massive disappointment considering that the series did at least do fluid, spectacularly-presented boss fights really well before. For all their nihilism and cruelty, God of War 3’s boss fights were fun to play.
Boy (!) is this game poorly paced. I think that’s mainly due to the over-use of enemy encounters because I quite like the rudimentary puzzles they’ve sprinkled throughout the game. They’re my favourite thing about the game so far because they’re mostly built around the axe mechanic, which is the best in the game.
Narratively, this game could be fantastic if the writers were being honest with their characters. The game is framed so far as Kratos slowly learning to connect with and trust his son through their shared trauma, but the glacial pacing spreads the moments of stunted emotional honesty out to the point were it feels like the story is about something else entirely. Right now, this feels like a story about the fact that your dad is never going to be emotionally honest with you, is always going to let you down, and would rather you be as closed-off as he is than confront the damage. I also have the feeling that this game isn’t actually about that and is going to do something much less interesting with what it has already set up.
I don’t like the protagonists very much but the ancillary characters are great fun. I feel like they missed an opportunity to make the series more quirky and irreverent before and it feels like too little, too late here.
Why is this game open world? I’ve yet to see why. It’s a big-ass hub world that’s a pain in the ass to navigate and they’ve peppered in fast-travel points to nullify whatever impact it might have had.
As Jackson Tyler said on twitter, games are basically replacing level design with Satisfying Feedback Loops and I hate it.
That’s all for now.