God of War: Ragnarok Is as Fun to Play as It Is to Read

I’ve gotten a bit further in God of War: Ragnarok. I’m still only about halfway through the game, I think, since I’ve been distracted by things like getting adequate sleep, other video games, and a new book release, but I’m enjoying myself. I’ve had a few issues in combat,specifically with the game responding sluggishly to my controller inputs, but I’m also hypersensitive to input lag thanks to my work as a software tester and my sort of high-precision style of gameplay. Other than that, and a couple weird moments where the camera got pushed somewhere useless when I dodge an attack near a wall, it’s been a fun, enjoyable experience. Even when I’ve been fighting some really angry ghosts who keep kicking my ass to the point where I’d just give up on the fight and start over if I got hit a single time before I got said angry ghost to half HP. All-in-all, the game remains just as fun as the first one and while I do miss some of the combat mechanics I used frequently in the prequel, there’s plenty of new and fun combat mechanics for me to use in this one.

A lot of the general gameplay hasn’t really changed all that much from the last game to this one. Most fights still operate the same, aside from a bit of a tweak to how parrying and blocking work. The newer system feels better to use in combat but largely doesn’t change much beyond allowing you to alter the results of your shield’s effects, since you can now equip new shields with their own special abilities. I’m willing to bet the entire system allows for more tailoring to specific combat styles, but I tend to lean pretty heavily on axe, fist, and parry combat, with is sort of the bread-and-butter of the game. It’s fairly plain, but it works well and the variety available to me within that set means I can handle just about anything as long as I’m not mixing up my block/abilities button and my aim button (which happens usually for the first 30 minutes of gameplay as my hands readjust to my PS4 controller after spending a bunch of time playing on my Switch).

The one video game friend I’ve got who is also playing the game is playing on a PS5, so I’ve been able to do a bit of a comparison. Besides the obvious graphical differences, the only real differences I’ve been able to detect is loading time (reloading from death feels like it takes forever in the PS4 version of the game) and my friend reports that he hasn’t had any of the input lag I’ve been feeling. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t there, since it’s very small on PS4 and my friend is not as sensitive to it as I am, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t there on the PS5. After all, the input lag trips be up because it’s not always present, so I can’t consistently adjusted to whatever timing I should be using, which makes me feel like it’s tied to processing power even if I haven’t really done enough deliberate testing to figure that out.

Outside of the core gameplay loop, I feel more invested in GoW: Ragnorak and all the characters therein, to the point of exlaiming my frustrations at certain plot developments. I think this game has an amazing job of giving players the ability to easily meet the characters where they’re at. Though it can sometimes feel a little overbearing, the characters tend to talk to each other a lot more about what’s going on in their minds. Sometimes this is great, like when we get more details about Kratos’ past as he talks to an NPC companion while another is out of earshot. Sometimes it gets a little odious, like when an NPC companion immediately tells you how to solve a puzzle or says something that’s supposed to be a hint but winds up sounding like cryptic nonsense because taking it at face value doesn’t present you with any new information despite them implying it should. It is a blessing and a curse.

Still, I appreciate getting a deeper look into the minds of the characters, even if I’m always reminding myself that these peopel can say whatever they want without necessarily meaning it. I’m a deeply suspicious and slightly paranoid person when it comes to some stuff that happens in this game, because I know the weight of trauma and grief together, and some people seem to be getting over their totally legimitate emotional issues a little bit faster than I think makes sense. That said, there isn’t really a clear understanding of how much time is passing over the course of this game since the characters don’t seem to need sleep (something commented upon in a fun bit of world-exploration companion chatter) and I haven’t been playing consistently enough to get a feel for how many hours pass in-game versus out of game.

Since I’m still at a point where the plot is developing (the characters in-world seem to have just as many theories about what is happening or going to happen as I do), I don’t really have much to say about that. Both Gow: Ragnarok and the newest Pokémon game are huge time-sinks, so I’ve been unable to make as much progress in either as I’d like because I’ve been flip-flopping between them as my gaming time and interest allows. Still, I’m intrigued to see how the story develops from the point I’m at and how all the characters interact along the way. After all, that’s what this game is really about. The plot is fairly basic, but the character work is where the writing truly shines. And, you know, where my interest lies. Can’t wait to see how all these complex relationships turn out.

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