2018 has finally come to pass, but the impact left on the world by the paradigm shaking games that were released will be felt for years to come. I can still recall the feeling of riding a horse through the jaw-dropping world of Red Dead Redemption 2, or being attacked by the Sinister 6 in Marvel’s Spider-Man. Many people have raved about the incredible rise of indie developers yet again this year, with titles like Celeste making headway for games that aim to bring more attention to the inspiration of their subject matter then just their gameplay. Let’s also not forget that mobile games are gaining more recognition. Florence, on iOS, was the first mobile game that made be truly believe that a game on my phone would evoke as deep of emotions as a game on my computer or console.
While we here at Gamer Professionals were blown away by many of the games this year, there can only be one Game of the Year! Through much voting and debate, we are proud to announce our pick.
God of War
God of War originally released back in April, and has been the clear leader in conversations about the best gaming experience released all year. The gameplay feels rewarding and tight in a way that could only be crafted by some of the industry’s most talented and experienced developers. The writing caliber of the story and side missions reached heights that we get only once in a generation. At Gamer Professionals the staff was so wrapped up in playing it that we didn’t even get a chance to review it! So, allow me to sing the praises from our staff about God of War and why it’s our pick for Game of the Year 2018.
You can’t talk about God of War without first talking about the game’s story. On the surface it seems to be a simple quest of spreading the ashes of Kratos’ late wife with their son Atreus, but it evolves to be so much deeper than that. My inference is that Kratos’ wife tasked them with climbing to the highest peak to spread her ashes in an effort to develop a relationship between Kratos and his son. This very quickly becomes the central pillar of the game’s narrative. The struggle of Kratos teaching his son how to wield the power of a god but not be consumed by is feels like a lesson in passing on the best of ourselves to our children and family, so the game easily strikes a chord with nearly everyone who plays it. It was really interesting to see this done with the Norse mythology in the background instead of continuing with the series’ Greek lore. Many stories, struggles, and trials in Norse mythology are rooted in the relationships between family, so it’s a fitting pair for Kratos and Atreus’ developing kinship. Not to mention it’s exciting to see these new gods and beasts, in action in the many diverse realms, inspired by the nine worlds detailed in the Prose Edda. Later in the game when the two mythos from the series clash together, it’s enough to send shivers down the spine of anyone who has prior experience with the God of War series.
The combat feels like it’s of another world as well. The simple action of throwing Kratos’ new Leviathan axe and having it return in a similar fashion to Thor’s hammer Mjolnir always feels satisfying. Not only that, but juggling between your regular and heavy attack with the axe keeps combat engaging for the 25-30 hour journey. When you later get your second weapon, learning to change between the two in order to maximize combos and efficiently dispatch enemies is a much more engaging flow for combat than the series has ever been able to capture. The addition of Atreus as a partner in combat is pulled off really well. Too many games pair you with an NPC would can rarely hold their own, but Atreus does a fantastic job. The more the story progresses, the better he gets with his bow, giving a sense that Kratos’ mentorship is paying off and further selling the development of their relationship.
God of War was also one of the most visually stunning games to come out this year. From the diverse, colorful realms that you visit to the individual hairs in Kratos’ beard, you could tell that a lot of attention was given to this aspect of the game. It was exciting to progress in the game, not only because it meant you get to see more of the story but, because of the locations that you visit. Even Midgar, the main area of the game, looks stunning with it’s winter-painted forests and icy peaks. Riding across the Lake of Nine and being able to see the World Serpent from nearly anywhere in the world sold the connection between the location and mythology. Even Mimir’s stories about the nine realms and their inhabitants further sell the world, and provide a great buffer to time spend in the boat or wandering around.
For these reasons, and many more, we are happy to recommend God of War to any and every one of our readers. It’s an adventure that is as thrilling as it is emotional, and newcomers or longtime fans will all find something in the game that resonates with them. Truly, we cannot wait to see the next chapter in the story of Kratos.
If you enjoyed your time with God of War as much as we did, or even if it didn’t strike the same chord with you, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!