Compared to the Hellenic myths and consequently the Roman ones, the relationship between the civilizations of the north and the Norse pantheon has different and less sacred nuances. Between Odin, Thor, Freya and those peoples tempered by a ferocious climate and dedicated to raids there was a certain pragmatic respect less steeped in sacredness and more of that awe that a son can have for a severe father. There was also a greater isolation than the Greek peoples, which led to a fragmentation of myths and legends with characters and events often contradicting each other, but almost all linked by values of strength, violence, valor and war and, in part, deception.
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That’s why the story of the first God of War, which saw Kratos grappling with Baldur and other characters from the Norse epic, seemed so well connected to his past as a destroyer of Olympus. After all, the Spartan fury of a man who had lost everything trying to make a pact with the gods was not so in contradiction with the bellicose Nordic values, from guaranteeing Valhalla to the bravest and above all from the fury of the berserkers, who have so much in common. with that of Kratos.
But what made the first God of War even more interesting was the mixing of the fighting skills of its protagonist with the new role of father, a rough, taciturn father, incapable of real gestures of affection and perpetually in the balance between educating. a son with hardness, to prepare him for an even tougher world and somehow try to give him the affection he demands.
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All themes that God of War: Ragnarok, a sequel that resumes the ranks more or less when we stopped, expands even more, remaining more or less faithful to the structure of the previous chapter.
In this new adventure Kratos and Atreus will have to face once again two fronts, the external one, consisting of Odin, his deceptions and his desire to dominate everything and the internal one, made up of a relationship that becomes more and more complicated with the growth of Atreus and his claiming a place in the world no longer as his father’s shoulder but as a young man.
The meeting and clash between father and son, between affection and education, between freedom and duty are the narrative heart of the work, a heart ironically taken up in the commercial with Ben Stiller, Lebron James and John Travolta, but which offers a fabulous narrative spring. to always make us want to know what will happen shortly thereafter.
God of War: Ragnarok is a sequel obviously linked to the previous chapter; therefore, from a purely playful point of view, it adds something but without exaggerating. The combat dynamics are still tied to the ax and the blades of chaos, with the added possibility of charging the effects of frost and fire to slow or increase the damage dealt to creatures and monsters of all kinds, while Atreus is our shoulder shooting arrows and distracting enemies.
Here and there it will be possible to collect resources that will allow us to improve or change our armor to enhance the damage, defense or energy of Kratos, or improve or change the elemental effects of weapons.
The overall structure of the game is a continuous repetition of narrative moments, some exploration sections with small environmental puzzles to be solved to open gaps or overcome obstacles, more or less complex fights and then off again. From a certain point of view it can be seen as a repetitive pattern but on the other it is also comforting in its own way because God of War: Ragnarok knows that it is a game in which the combat is epic, spectacular and fun, where even the most simple can give an exhilarating moment.
To break this pattern from time to time we think of the welcome moments of exploration a little more open with some secondary assignments that allow us to discover a little more the power games and the legends of this world in decay and on the verge of a war that, after all, nobody wants.
Ragnarok also learns from one of the most serious flaws of the previous one: the lack of truly epic moments studded with enormous creatures to be killed, which were the hallmark of the original saga.
Too bad that from a visual point of view the handbrake is pulled a little. The game is visually very beautiful on PS5 but, as often happens with games that come out with a generation of consoles still in the making, and this one has had a particularly troubled gestation, one wonders what could have come of it with developers focused only on the generation current. However, it remains a game with glimpses and splendid details that on PS5 can also be enjoyed with greater fluidity.
If we add to all this an adorable, multifaceted and intense characterization of the characters, which takes every space between an ax blow and a violent execution to offer a three-dimensionality to all the figures that alternate on our screens, showing us sufferings, defects, aspirations, traumas of a group of characters who, as the tradition of the epic dictates, with their mythological struggles are a mirror of human passions.
Once again it is worth remembering the beautiful journey taken by the character of Kratos, who went from being a braggart and over the top “god-killer” to a real character, a tormented, taciturn and complex man. But this new chapter is an opportunity to explore Atreus even better, who goes from being little more than a helper to co-star. Because if on the one hand we have the father who educates the son, on the other hand we have the son who grows and is constantly looking for a balance to manage the changes that arise with growth and the moment in which the father must be symbolically “killed” .
The only drawback from this point of view concerns the, perhaps, excessive need of the game to constantly tell you what you could do to solve even very simple puzzles. Probably a need that emerged during the testing phase and that led to wanting to be sure that no one, absolutely no one had any doubts about how to proceed. On the other hand, the accessibility options are many, as is now the practice for Sony titles.
The final result of God of War: Ragnarok is an intense and emotional tale perfect for those who had already enjoyed the previous one. Once again it is surprising how strangely introspection and violence manage to balance each other out, exactly as they do in certain classic epics. The mix of fantastic and familiar glimpses, drama and comedy, returns to the player all the intensity not only of the physical but of the emotional battles, in which perhaps the greatest power is not to split a giant in half with an ax blow but that of forgiveness and knowing how to find one’s own balance without trying to suffocate the other with one’s own desires and ambitions.