Games: God of War: Ragnarok offers more satisfying Scandinavian gristle than an IKEA meatball.
God of War: Ragnarok (PS5)
TALK about big flip-flops to fill. 2018’s God of War represented the PS4 at the peak of its powers, and went on to become the console’s best-selling game.
Sony’s reboot changed the mythological mayhem from Greek to Scandinavian mythology, mixing blood, gore and guts action for a dazzling Viking ride, while bearded badass Kratos embarked on a grand, gutless hack and slash fest.
With a planned trilogy scrapped, the follow-up to Ragnarok’s Norseplay marks the conclusion of a saga that has come to define PlayStation.
Four years later, Kratos and his son Atreus – now a dashing teenager – are drawn deeper into the world of the gods. Starting in the frost-bitten wastes of Midgar, players travel through the Nine Realms on a quest to stop Ragnarok – the end of the world.
While Kratos still commands Atreus, the wee un is the driving force of this story, and later levels let you control the oik, swapping out dad’s muscular butchery for elegant bow-based combat.
And considering the reboot did away with the show’s infamous sex scenes, there’s no random Scandi action here, Ragnarok instead doubling down on the blood and guts as a menagerie of weird and wonderful enemies attempt to whip an undead Norse.
Once again, it’s a classic course in mythical characters, from Odin and Bjorn to Mimir, the God of Knowledge, who returns as a disembodied head swinging from Kratos’ belt. And while he wonders about Chris Hemsworth’s slashing Thor, here the god of thunder is a fat drunk.
With real power to the fight, every swing of Kratos’ Leviathon Ax or slice of his Blades of Chaos is brutally visceral. You can now charge up weapons for elemental spice while a confusing skill tree unlocks new perks and abilities.
A visual tour de force, Ragnarok is simply stunning. Its predecessor may have pioneered the one-shot camera effect, but never has it looked so good, with snowy vistas and frozen lakes popping off the screen at a locked 60 frames per second.
For all its technical bluster, Ragnarok doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, and mechanically feels quite similar to the 2018 original. Scrambling through clearings, slashing waves of enemies and solving puzzles is once again the order of the day, and once you’ve cut the fifteenth your rope or swung over yet another ledge, that 40-hour ride time can start to drag.
Fortunately, Ragnarok’s final levels pull the saga together for a conclusion that sticks the landing. Combining magical action with gut-wrenching emotion, God War: Ragnarok is arguably the PS5’s marquee title, offering more satisfying Scandinavian gristle than an IKEA meatball.