God of War Ragnarok – PlayStation 5 Review

God of War Ragnarok – PlayStation 5 Review

It’s 2022 and Dad of Boi 2: Spicytimes is here, baby.

After four years of anticipation the excitedly awaited sequel to 2018’s God of War, Ragnarok is upon us at last. And it is glorious. Developed once more by Sony Santa Monica Studio, and published by Sony IE, here’s a mighty AAA title that has a lot of hype to live up to. Well, does it? Let’s review Ragnarok together and find out. For those out of the loop, God of War Ragnarok is an action-adventure RPG.

How one derives fun from a product tends to be highly subjective. Therefore ALL forms of review are opinionated and should be taken with a grain of salt (this included). So let’s analyze God of War Ragnarok, through the lens of more objective metrics such as; graphical fidelity, characters/story, content/length, controls & gameplay, and then finally, sound design & cinematics. This product was tested on a PlayStation 5. For full transparency: this content was reviewed using a copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.

Graphical Fidelity

Not beating around the bush here: there is no way to, and no point in claiming Ragnarok is anything less than visually outstanding. It stands tall alongside its predecessor, and the likes of The Last of Us 2, Red Dead 2, and Cyberpunk 2077. What is there to say? Models, textures, animations, reflections, light, shading – it all looks fantastic. I noticed the transition between light and dark spaces can be a bit much, though I believe there is an accessibility setting to tone this back in the menu. Maybe it was just my TV, but I noticed that some shady corners were really dark, almost impenetrably so. It could also be an intentional choice in some areas, who knows? It wasn’t, however, obstructive to any ability to be the God of Puzzles, err, Boats, err War?

On PS5, the 60fps looks butter smooth and certainly accents the game noticeably from the previous 30frame experience. Performance was altogether silky smooth, I can’t even recall any frame hiccups. Location transitions are generally seamless, with the exception of hidden loading (for the keen-eyed player) in the form of wall cracks and (less but still some) time ‘between the realms’. That being said there are no generic loading screens, it’s all pretty seamless.

Also, the suite of settings and accessibility is quite expansive – especially for what we’re used to on console. I could even turn motion blur off – yuck. The UI and HUD are still quite clean, with minor changes made to menus and icons. While the compass does make a return to the top of the player’s screen, I did notice some occasional…wonkiness. Most of the time it was fine, but every now and then it would get sticky.

Overall, an aesthetic next-gen trendsetter.

Characters & Story

Magnificent. Next.

But seriously: avoiding spoilers because of course we will – this game has some of the best characterizations in gaming since Ghost of Tsushima (not that we’ve played everything). Motivations appear consistent, conflicts are intense and exciting, and events drive gripping character development. This is a more sombre story than 2018, and the tone is quickly established. This game does not piss around or waste your time. The sequel builds on and further expands the theme of the “coming of age” tale in a complex, multifaceted fashion that examines father as much as son, and friend as much as foe.

From old and new, I damn near can’t think of a character I didn’t like to some degree. Or at the bare minimum, respect the absolute dedication to the direction of their personality both through their writing chops, and the on-point performances all around. At times, Ragnarok is mesmerizing. It can range at times from its deeply emotionally resonant moments to Uncharted-esque jaw-dropping set-pieces.

Additionally, I found Ragnarok to be a perfect example of how to execute subversion well. This game most definitely plays off of your expectations set by the previous game, but not in a way that denies its fans what they want. There were moments when I felt like a kid again, thinking “this is just straight-up f*cking cool

Fantastic performances, accompanied by great writing. The cast of this game deserves the recognition they get. I could list off all the great actors & actresses, but that’d be another full paragraph. Everyone just has so much personality. Long story short, characters & plot are the heart and soul – the meat and potatoes, of this game. Next (for real).

Content & Length

When most (not all) was said and done, Ragnarok rolled credits at approximately 43 hours, semi-completionist (scouring every corner/completing *most* content) on the second hardest difficulty: “Give Me No Mercy”. Which, I can attest, did not. Though I do look forward to the grueling punishment of the irreversibly difficult “Give Me God of War” difficulty next. Hel, I crave it (see what I did there?). Ragnarok includes some post-game content & quests, though no NG+ at the time of writing. Although with the variety of difficulty levels, It should tide us over. That is until they inevitably add it as they did with the previous title.

Just as with the last game, there is no multiplayer. Content primarily comprises quests, cinematics, and a few different free-roam areas accompanying a relatively open format. There are new puzzle types and activities, as well as old ones. Doubling back with new equipment to solve old puzzles is encouraged, and often contains items & hidden secrets.

Speaking of puzzles, while they’re not my favourite, I do enjoy at least the opportunity to solve them. See, the game offers tips through the side characters after a set amount of time passes, the issue is that time is just a tad too quick. There were a few moments where, by the time I had the opportunity to scan the environment and think for just a second, someone was already blurting out the solution. It could be nice sometimes, but it can also spoil the fun for others.

On top of that, we also have regular collectibles such as Odin’s ravens and Treasure hunts. A small but welcome change comes with regard to the raven collectibles, not only are they a bit easier to see as they’re brighter – but also yield practical rewards this time around. That’s all for this section.

Controls & Gameplay

At its core, this hardly feels like a fully upgraded separate sequel rather than an extension and further development of the previous experience. One can feel the previous title co-existing with Ragnarok as a bedrock foundation for this game. If that sounds more of the same, that’s because it is. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – as they say. That’s not to say, however, that Santa Monica doesn’t evolve the established mechanics.

While remaining spoiler-free, previous moves are seamlessly woven into Kratos’ arsenal to make room for further growth. Combat, while remaining relatively unchanged has been expanded further for a wider variety of combinations, and some familiar attacks have been tweaked as well. It’s as direct a sequel as it gets, both story and gameplay-wise. So much has remained familiar, that the game even forgoes a tutorial and expects players to remember 2018 controls and tactics. Or maybe 2018 is the tutorial?

Combat still feels visceral, and devastatingly ferocious. But Kratos seems almost… violently restrained? Not that the game isn’t brutal, but homie was ripping people in half with his bare hands in 2018, now it’s more choppy-choppy.

How does it handle?

In reverse order, let’s talk about controls now. They’re the same. Extremely minor changes, such as the quick turn button being taken off of the down D-pad. Little things. Left sick moves, the right stick looks, blah blah blah. It’s all quite responsive though there were times I wondered if the inputs were being detected at times. Though that’s likely just locked animations, or me being bad at timings. Lastly, on the point of controls, remapping is also available, which I found incredibly handy when I kept clicking left on the D-pad for the axe. Remapping for the win! It’d be wonderful to see this flexibility become standardized.

There are moments that utilize the DualSense’s haptic trigger feedback, but they’re few and far between. I gotta admit though, they feel pretty cool – and that’s why I wish there was more of it. But really, what else is new? A new gimmicky feature that non-exclusive games tend not to integrate much. ‘Member Sixaxis?

The open-realm design is back as well as previously touched on. It works about the same here, with the primary quest line opening players up to more freedom at certain points. Realm travel has been simplified, while Tyr’s temple is really snazzy. Overall, the whole process has been streamlined into the Yggdrasil gates (or whatever they’re called. The rock gate thingies!). Hurray for quality-of-life improvements.

Speaking of, some might not enjoy the quality of their life during the boat segments if they weren’t feeling that in 2018. But Kratos is the paddle god, so off we go clipping through barrels. What, what? Jokes aside, it happened once or twice when they were supposed to break for that deliciously precious hacksilver, but it didn’t affect the general experience. Just a harmless glitch.

Other small additions such as environmental attacks have made their way in as well.

Sound Design & Cinematics

In all honestly, this was the first thing I noticed about Ragnarok; How perfectly integrated and high-quality the audio design is. The synchronicity with the visual elements really is top-tier, and I’m not sure if it’s the next-generation utilization of the PS5’s “Tempest Engine” audio chip. It’s hard to explain like the sound waves are moving in the same way that ray tracing maps light. It’s as if the audio naturally gains and dissipates when moving towards or away, and different areas/surroundings have more (or less) echoability. I’m not sure if that’s a real word, but, sure.

That aside, the entire game is one large cinematic. Literally, it even retains the one-shot direction of the previous game. While that may not necessarily be unexpected, it is welcome.

The only audio issues noticed were some of the rock gates not having sound when they form, and… that was it.

Conclusion

While God of War 2018 feels like a near-mandatory prerequisite experience to Ragnarok, its continuity doesn’t detract from the raw quality on display here. This is AAA single-player narrative gaming at its finest. If you enjoy a similar cinematic experience to the previous title, or Naughty Dog games such as Uncharted or The Last of Us, this game will surely ring true with you. However, if the previous God of War game wasn’t your cup of tea, Ragnarok’s familiar gameplay loop/formula won’t change one’s mind. Even in our Elden Ring review, we hesitate to use the word masterpiece. Whilst they both aim to achieve wildly different things, Ragnarok, I believe, claims its godhood and will go down in the history of video games as “one of the greats”, capping off a remarkable duology. 9.6/10 A true master in its class and dare I say, a masterpiece? I dare.

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God of War Ragnarok is available on PlayStation exclusively. Well, that’s a wrap for our review, what did you think of this action-adventure? Let us know in the comments, we’d be glad to hear from you! And if you enjoyed this content, check out our Trifox Review! Thanks for reading.


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A Rarity, A Rewarding Conclusion
  • 9.6/10
    Score - 9.6/10
9.6/10

Overview

+ Satisfying Story and Character Arcs

+ Gorgeous Aesthetics

+ Fluent and Slid Feeling Combat

+ Lots of Content

 – More of The Same

PlayStation Review