Stellar 'God of War: Ragnarok' obliterates expectations, rises to dizzying heights

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Nov 14, 2022

TUSCON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "God of War: Ragnarok" is a gorgeous, heart-rending descent into the elements and emotions that have plagued mankind over the eons. At the same time an icy death march and an exuberant embrace of all that makes life worth living under the most crushing of circumstances, the game is a towering achievement that cuts your legs out from under you again and again, sweeping you along its magnificent path.

Not only a stark contender with the likes of "Elden Ring," "Stray," "Cult of the Lamb" and "Horizon: Forbidden West" for 2022 Game of the Year honors, "God of War: Ragnarok" makes a strong case to be etched in the wrinkles of time as an enduring classic. Gorgeous, emotionally resonant and bursting with spine-tingling set pieces, the game is a magnificent set piece for the PS5's capabilities, particularly when combined with a 4K display and a booming sound system.

SCE Santa Monica strives to outdo its considerable past, and largely nails the task. This is not only the best-looking and smoothest-playing "God of War" game — sprawling with side quests, collectibles and moving character arcs — but also the one with the most to say.

The follow-up to the magnificent 2018 PS4 game launches the franchise from its already lofty prominence into stratospheric heights.

With the events of last entry having given way to the coming Fimbulwinter winds, Kratos and Atreus must contend with the hostile elements, the looming threats of man and mortal and the fatalistic gloom that their efforts will be for naught. Thematically, the story blends the Greek irony of the "God of War" past with the cut-throat starkness of Norse fables.

A bold artistic achievement, the game is a whirlwind of cultural references, winking nods and reverent in-jokes about the "God of War" oeuvre, as well as astute observations about mankind's plight and the nature of mythology.

Thematically, the story has matured along with its characters. Now Kratos is well into middle age and dealing with Atreus, a feisty teen son who is increasingly independent and resentful of his father's ways. You face down a breathtaking gallery of imposing goliaths, solve intriguing puzzles and traverse harsh lands that bubble with hidden treasures. The journey, rather than the destination, is the reward here.

The new game allows you to access Vanaheim, Svartalfheim and Asgard — which were only teased and hinted at before. What was once blind rage in Kratos has been replaced with grim determination to not only survive and enforce vengeance on those who have wronged him, but correct past inadequacies in the hopes of allowing future generations to vault off his stooped, exhausted shoulders to higher ideals.

The path of "God of War: Ragnarok" is marked with easy chuckles, brutal confrontations, stunning twists and majestic sights. It's a moving, gut-punch of a voyage that fulfills the promise of the most satisfying tales in any media, and is only possible with controller in hand and mind transplanted to another realm.

Publisher provided review code.

Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing phil.villarreal@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.