After rants and raves about the story: I'm just not seeing it.

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#1 Posted by The_Nubster (4291 posts) -

Given that I haven't finished the game, so this may change, but this is one of the clunkiest and least-interesting video game stories in recent memory. It's overwrought with bad melodrama, Kratos only has one tone of voice (which is now bored instead of angry), and it's *another* rehash of my-family-is-dead-poor-me. Except now you have alive Atreus instead of dead Calliope.

And ATREUS. He is actively terrible. The game has puzzles and loot crates everywhere but they seem to have written 1000 lines of grating, condescending dialogue. "Can we go now?" "Maybe instead of looting this ancient temple we're going to leave." "We should just go, you're not going to get it."

These are all things he says, and he has a new one every couple of minutes. They've also written dialogue for Kratos being snippy back at him and telling him to shut up, so why didn't they realize that players would be annoyed with Atreus as well? Every time I'm getting sucked into the environment and exploration, Atreus rips me out.

This is all not even mentioning the dissonance between mechanics and narrative. Atreus is somehow vaguely sickly, but he can get stomped on my trolls and smashed by all manner of creature and be totally okay. Meanwhile, Kratos literally splits the earth and smashes a mountain while fighting a god, but a level 3 draugr can kill him in one hit. The man who single-handedly brought down an entire pantheon of gods can't handle a pack of wolves now.

The combat is fine. There have been 0 situations where the close-up camera has been actively additive to the experience but it's fine. It seems to me that they just needed some way to hide Atreus warping around the environment, or maybe to reduce on-screen geometry (see: fog in lakes).

Overall, it's the story that's disappointing me the most, specifically because it was touted as a stand-out aspect. Hammy, ham-fisted, hamtastical writing paired with two voice actors that lack chemistry and charisma does not an enjoyable time make.

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#2 Posted by not_a_bumblebee (134 posts) -

Not every game is for everyone if you ain't digging it you ain't digging it.

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#3 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

The whole thing with basic enemies being powerful enough to fight a god struck me as strange, too.

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#4 Posted by SirPsychoSexy (1646 posts) -

@the_nubster: Have you gotten to Mimir? I found everything with him absolutely fantastic. I also found the story got better and better as the game went on. Then again I never felt any of the complaints you listed here, so maybe you just aren't gonna like it.

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#5 Posted by Shindig (4963 posts) -

I feel like Atreus is handled well until a stupid character arc that bends back on itself inside the space of 3 seconds. I got a lot out of it because of my existing knowledge of Kratos, to be fair.

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#6 Posted by Nodima (2636 posts) -

Sounds like you're just not into it. For what it's worth, I recently watched Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven and came to the realization I think that's a shit ass movie despite many claiming it's one of the best westerns of all-time. Everything loved will have it's haters. Sorry you're not liking God of War, I found it's story to be pretty impactful personally and was honestly all the way in on the somewhat campy melodrama. I also felt they handled the comedic balance really well.

I won't fully agree that Atreus sucks, but I don't think they handle his character arc very artfully, and I'm not the biggest fan of his voice actor's performance. As a character I think there's a decent amount of stuff there to like and he's pretty useful in combat. It's just a shame they didn't seem to have as tight a handle on him as they did the rest of the characters considering how important he is to the narrative and how much time is spent with him.

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#7 Posted by nutter (2294 posts) -

Interesting...grabbed a copy for $20 and I’m going to try to make time for it before GOTY talks, much because I figured they’d get into story/moment stuff.

We shall see...

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#8 Posted by shorap (439 posts) -

I think some of the praise for the story is because it’s speaks to a big segment of people who play games. That being guys who have issues with their own dad’s and the game being a cathartic release for them. It’s been a prevalent theme for a decade and a half or so in movies and GoW is the first game to decently pull this theme off.

It’s also relatable for all the gamer dad’s out there who are a big segment as well. Reminded me of the Taken movies where a lot of the fans were dad’s who had daughters.

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#9 Edited by Casepb (751 posts) -

I enjoyed the game a lot, but I don't remember playing it for the story. Sure I was interested in the story somewhat just because it was a new setting and I was wondering why Kratos was there now. I mostly just played the game for the gameplay that felt so addictive. The only thing that really disappointed me was the lack luster ending.. I really thought the game would be much longer than what it was. Also having all the realms on the table and not being able to go to some was a real low blow. I never really heard any praise for the story before.

The whole thing with basic enemies being powerful enough to fight a god struck me as strange, too.

To be fair that's in every video game.

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#10 Edited by Nodima (2636 posts) -

@casepb: I think the game was a pretty proper length, particularly if you were engaging in the side activities as they became available rather then saving them for the end (though I will say, with hindsight, I think they incentive mainlining the game through at least the second major story beat in ways they didn't intend from a game design perspective) but I do agree that it was more than a tease once you realize much of the World Tree is blocked by the Gods, magic, time or whatever the reasonings were. On the one hand, it's an effective display of the scale of this world Kratos has ventured into. On the other, it's very outside the language of video games for a player to be shown, and/or allowed to highlight, options/destinations that are not in fact options/destinations. I've always felt that compass was one of the most valid criticisms laid against God of War.

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#11 Posted by Barrock (4154 posts) -

How far are you in? I'd say it gets better, but you might already be to the part where it improves.

And he's most likely telling you that you can't do something because you don't have the tools to do what you're trying to do.

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#12 Posted by mems1224 (2511 posts) -

Yea I felt similarly. I really dug all the Norse stuff and the side characters were cool but Kratos continues to be the worst character in gaming and his son wasn't much better. I got about 75% of the way through the game and dropped it because I couldn't take Kratos sucking anymore and watching him slow crawl through another dumb hole to hide the loading was insufferable.

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#13 Posted by Junkerman (536 posts) -

IDK God of War is one of the few videogames in recent years that I've actually enjoyed and finished... probably my favorite of this generation.

The story has lots of little nuances that I really enjoyed and found extremely well written. I'm a father though, so maybe it just resonates with me more.

The subtle theme of -as a parent- portraying yourself a certain way because you think that's whats best for your child, only to realise/fail to realise that your child doesn't notice/care/think about things the same way you do is just so true to life and subtly woven into many of the little interactions between Kratos and Atreus that I found it to be really beautiful.

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#14 Posted by The_Nubster (4291 posts) -

@barrock said:

How far are you in? I'd say it gets better, but you might already be to the part where it improves.

And he's most likely telling you that you can't do something because you don't have the tools to do what you're trying to do.

I'm just about at the summit, just got the ability to ignite the sap that's blocking parts of the world. The reason I highlighted Atreus' voice lines is because he specifically said I couldn't do something, despite me being able to, which was severing the gross gangly ties of the Dark Elf structures. He had three distinct lines telling me to give up and move on, despite it being the direct path forward as dictated by the story. He also chimes in all the time with useless stuff, saying various forms of "it's moving/working/happening!" immediately after you pull a lever or twist a switch, which I find really annoying. He's also got many flavours of "come on let's just leave please" when there are still hidden areas and runic chests to open.

@barrock Just finished killing the dragon and got the ability to ignite sap. I think I'm far past the point where it should have clicked for me. The beauty of the world is the only thing keeping me going at the moment The art design and portrayal of the different realms really is impressive.

@junkerman I'm not a dad but I do struggle with mental illness and how to portray myself to my loved ones so as not to worry them or expose myself too much so I feel that there's some overlap. The forced silences from Kratos after Atreus asks him a hard question or the constant reach-out-to-touch-Atreus-shoulder-but-don't-touch-shoulder moments are pretty cringey. I'm also having a lot of difficulty pinning down how old Atreus is, emotionally. He talks about his abandonment issues very clearly and without pause and flips rapidly between hating Kratos and forgiving him; he's much more nuanced in his expression than most real-life adults are, not to mention empathetic of Kratos' straight-up abuse, and it ends up feeling campy and over-written rather than an honest portrayal of their struggle as a family.

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#15 Edited by Rahf (530 posts) -

Here's the thing: all those emotional moments are present in a family. Perhaps not with the same frequency, but you can bet your ass a child will act out, or shut down, or have moments of 'melodrama' if they've been through trauma or upheaval. I find Atreus highly believable, and Kratos indecisiveness precisely spot-on to how parents view parenting. Nobody knows how to be a parent, we're all just learning from others or winging it. And Kratos has to wing it all the time, on top of carrying the Greek Pantheon genocide and subsequent destruction of Greece on his shoulders.

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#16 Posted by Humanity (18948 posts) -

I do not have father issues nor am I a parent myself yet I was able to identify with Kratos’ strife in this story and emphasize with his need to fulfill the wishes of a loved one while bringing along a child he has little connection with - facing that awful realization that he can no longer ignore this boy because now the responsibility is all on him.

That said I can see why some people would not connect with the story. I myself have not connected with plenty of well regarded games. It’s just the way it is, there isn’t really much point in trying to deconstruct why you didn’t like it. It’s like food, something either tastes good to you or it doesn’t, and no matter what world class chef prepares the spinache if you don’t like spinache then you still won’t like the dish.

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#17 Posted by Captain_Insano (3533 posts) -

@rahf said:

Here's the thing: all those emotional moments are present in a family. Perhaps not with the same frequency, but you can bet your ass a child will act out, or shut down, or have moments of 'melodrama' if they've been through trauma or upheaval. I find Atreus highly believable, and Kratos indecisiveness precisely spot-on to how parents view parenting. Nobody knows how to be a parent, we're all just learning from others or winging it. And Kratos has to wing it all the time, on top of carrying the Greek Pantheon genocide and subsequent destruction of Greece on his shoulders.


Atreus is a pain but he's just lost his mum. Kratos is not exactly the best dad material to begin with and now he's trying to work it out all on his own. The arc with Atreus later in the game is frustrating, but it is meant to be - my biggest issue with that part was that it was such a quick turn (both times). I really like the story because it was not bombastic - there was no huge unrealistic goal like in other games or prior iterations of GOW. The story revolves around - take the ashes to the top of the mountain. But the way it does it, to me, was - as Jeff Bakalar would say - fantastic.

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#18 Posted by SloppyDetective (1618 posts) -

The story is cliche trash with some nice character moments in it but all of that is presented phenomenally - cinematography, sound, graphics, art design. People saying that the story gets better after Mimir are crazy to me. The entire plot beat that character introduces was the most "are you seriously doing this in a video game in the year of our lord 2018" moment for me. Still, there are some nice moments and stunning scenes to see in that game. I cranked it down to easy about 3/4 through so I could just see the whole thing, and I was happy I did. It will be on my top ten because I don't think I played 10 games from 2018 this year, but it will be very low on that list.

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#19 Posted by Big_Denim (842 posts) -

To be fair, your complaint 'jacked demi-god man that takes down trolls but somehow dies to a pack of wolves' complaint, is an inherent issue in just about all video games.

But yes, Atreus gets increasingly more annoying. I am not sure how far you've gotten in the story, but there is one section to his character arc that my wife and I were constantly looking at each other and rolling our eyes.

Overall, I just really enjoyed the setting, art direction, and sound design. It really came together as just a spectacular blockbuster odyssey with surprisingly decent combat and puzzles. So for that, I enjoy it.

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#20 Edited by ATastySlurpee (679 posts) -

God of War is one of the best games I've ever played. I beat it a few weeks after it came out and I still often think about it. Its almost December. No game has done that to me in a long long time. I didn't love the Greek God of War. This one was everything is wanted.

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#21 Posted by turboman (9924 posts) -

I think Atreus telling you that you can't solve a puzzle is just the game actually telling you that you are unable to solve a puzzle right now and you will need to come back later. Where are you at in the story? Kratos is usually one note with his character arc not changing until the later parts of the game but they add some much needed lightness in the dynamic of everything when you meet Mimir.

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#22 Posted by mercutio123 (570 posts) -

I finished it a couple of days ago - I completely disagree with basically everything you said. But we all got our opinions and yours is just as valid.

I think I responded to this game so much because for me it blended all the aspects I adored out of The Last Of Us and Batman Arkham Asylum - 2 of my favourite games of the last generation.

I personally found Kratos story to be fantastic - but I also did just play through the previous GOW games so a lot of what it was calling back to, even the more subtle stuff really worked for me. Yes there is the moment with Atreus that others have mentioned that comes out of the blue - but in general I found the story and gameplay so enjoyable that even when they do make you backtrack to go get another item to progress the story - I didn't mind at all because I was having so much fun. And that particular scenario is something I absolutely loathe in basically any other game.

I'll also say that this is the best GOW game by far - an can't wait for another one.

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#23 Posted by The_Nubster (4291 posts) -

@turboman: I've said in another post that all of the times he's said these things have been directly before puzzles I've solved, one of them being part of the main story. I wouldn't regard it as an issue if it were the game saying as much, but it's just Atreus being annoying.

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#24 Edited by Junkerman (536 posts) -

@the_nubster: Those are definitely valid interpretations - I feel that the overwhelming critical praise is a culmination in a lot of things and I think the incredible polish and movie-level direction and cinematography to the narration of the story goes a long way. Often times a poorer story can punch above its class if its told in a high quality way. Half-life 2 stands out to me back in its day (Its basically just a silent man with a gun running forward and shooting for 13 hours). So in the realm of videgames this is done with art direction, graphics, animation, sound design.

People all relate to imagery and storytelling differently as well right? Our lives are made up of complex triggers of emotions and some people relate to stories on an emotional level vs a literal one so I can see that playing a role as well, an emotional response might evoke a more meaningful relationship to the story then someone who cant relate. Regarding moments you mention were campy I cannot recall any. Atreus definitely does some incredibly obvious and overt 'acting out against authority' as a result of Kratos' actions (or lack thereof) -I can see how that can earn an eye roll... but I've also worked with and observed kids who display these exact behaviors in real life. A child in pain can do remarkable things when they've been failed, whether its as little as a perfect parent having to set them aside to deal with the lemons life throws at you or from the chronic abuse of a poor parent (Such as the repentant ass hole Kratos!)

TLDR; the aptly named @humanity response was a very concise way of saying what I wanted. I believe they have ascertained the truth of it!

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#25 Posted by Efesell (4567 posts) -

I wasn't very happy where the story ended up but felt it was really strong right up until it suddenly wasn't.

Which sounds harsh but I'm still ultimately pretty positive about it, and definitely think there's good room to build on things.

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#26 Posted by SethMode (2057 posts) -

@efesell: This is basically where I come from. I thought it was a well told story for the most part until the end, which felt like a weird left turn to make more of them. Which is fine, but, didn't exactly leave me feeling great. Either way, I parrot others in this thread; if you don't like it, you don't like it. I think that I've grown to hate 90% of the loved JRPG stories and yet...I don't want them to go away.

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#27 Posted by turboman (9924 posts) -

@the_nubster: Ah gotcha. I know he says a lot of "We should come back later", "I'm not sure we can do this", etc. for stuff you haven't unlocked yet. I know of one puzzle in particular near the end of the Elf world where I couldn't line stuff up right and it was path critical to get through and he said something implying that I wasn't doing it right and it forced me to turn around for a bit to look around thinking it was the game telling me I couldn't do it.

Also he's a kid that at this point doesn't seem to have a strong relationship with his father so he's a little snooty at times, and Kratos is a stubborn father that doesn't seem to be the best with kids. So that's gonna be the story until you get to Mimir.

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#28 Posted by nutter (2294 posts) -

As the son of a larger than life father, who was a military man, an exceptional provider, but emotionally unable to express himself to me in 40 years, this Kratos hit me.

As a father trying to raise a 10 year old boy who is JUST now basically becoming an angry teen, becoming a man, Atreus hit me. I’ve seen my son cry from anger, realizing himself unable to summon the strength he needs. I’ve seen him grow strong and brash. I also saw him go from sickly, with murmors, asthma, and being told he’d never play sports, to an outdoorsman and hard-hitting athlete (for his age).

I backpacked with my father once. It was a great bonding experience, though again, very manly and devoid of real emotion. I was afraid when we we separated once...I was probably 10 or 11. I go routinely with my son. I try to raise him to be strong, but compassionate. It’s hard to walk that line these days. It feels easy to raise him too weak, but push a little harder, and he could be a bully.

I think Kratos’ experience with Godhood, which I think is manhood in this game, is that Gods are brutal self-serving creatures. His fear of Atreus becoming a God, his fear of his ability to nuture a boy as a single father (which I am not), his having to face what fatherhood does to a man...I was struck because I’ve felt all these things.

That’s where the story hit for me.

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