Diego: 2018 had a lot of stellar releases and big surprises, but God of War was easily one of the biggest ones of the year. Since its initial reveal Sony had been tight-lipped on not only what the game was about but how it played as well, which led me to keep a degree of skepticism on whether or not they could deliver in shaking up a series that’s known for murdering your way through a pantheon of Greek gods with a constantly screaming Kratos. And even when the game came out I was still mildly hesitant on it until I reached the lake and the game truly revealed itself for what it was and I was immediately hooked. From the art direction, to the way it felt to use Kratos’ new axe, God of War is the kind of game that shows you what’s possible when you have a passionate team of people get together to make something special.
Samantha: I’d never played a God of War game before 2018, but when all the praise for the newest entry convinced me to try it, I started by picking up the God of War Saga so I’d have better context for Kratos as a character. What I discovered was that the series had more depth and emotion than I’d given it credit for before, and the new God of War capitalizes on that in every way. With a greater emphasis on storytelling, tons of places to explore, and a combat system that shifted the focus away from frantic fast-paced action to something a bit more methodical, it presents an unusual shift that keeps many aspects of the originals while presenting itself in a unique way. I enjoyed exploring the world, I loved the story and character interactions, and after going through so much tragedy in the original games, I found the emotional payoff in the new God of War to be one of its greatest strengths.
Spencer: When I reviewed God of War, I didn’t hold back when praising its story and gameplay. Kratos, Atreus, and all the other mythical figures that they met on their journey felt like real people (or as real of people as gods can be), largely because of how well they’re all written. While I’ve had lots of fun with all of the previous God of War games, this entry’s more grounded tone and heavier gameplay were a refreshing and exciting change in my eyes, as was the plethora of sidequests and bosses that weren’t part of the main story. God of War nails pretty much everything a game can nail, proving itself as one of the best games of this generation.
On the side, I briefly mentioned that the game reminded me of the relationship between my dad and I, and that certainly had an impact on my appreciation for the story. Like Kratos, my dad is a big, gruff, and stern guy, while I’ve always been a bit more upbeat and jokey than him. Our roadtrips and days spent together have always been fun because of this contrast; a contrast I saw a lot of in God of War. This made the game feel more personal and more nostalgic, as I imagine it would do for anyone else with a standard cop/army dad.
Austin: God of War shows how a franchise that doesn’t need another entry, can benefit from the work of a talented studio. Santa Monica Studios absolutely killed it with their take on God of War. Even in spite of having an obnoxiously annoying child character, the story managed to keep me engaged. The subtle tweaks to the character perspective, gave new life to a combat system that had been mindlessly dull for several games now. What really stands out to me with God of War is the great use of color and detail; The technical side of things isn’t without its flaws, but it overcomes its hiccups with a wonderful blending of art direction and technical prowess. Simply put, God of War is a game from 2018 which had me calling in friends and family to say “Look at this game!”
Runner Up: Marvel’s Spider-Man