3. God of War
, developed by Santa Monica Studio, played on the PlayStation 4 Pro for approximately 50 hours
. I've always actively disliked God of War games. I've been vocally against them on this very forum
. So, suffice it to say, I was cautiously excited for a total reboot. Thankfully, this (albeit soft) reboot completely changes up the gameplay and narrative styles that I disliked, and adds a level of humanity to one of the most inhumane characters in video game history (Kratos). One could argue that The Last of Us has had a strong influence on this game (and you'd be right) and the story isn't wholly unique. However, it is polished, paced well, and filled with interesting characters and motivations. I felt like I had a lot of agency in the gameplay, versus just mashing a giant triangle button prompt on screen, and going HUD-less really helped with the immersion into this Norse-mythological-setting. The feeling of throwing and retrieving the Leviathan Axe never stops feeling satisfying. I'm not even invested in the previous entries/history of this franchise, but retrieving the Blades of Chaos
was somehow still a really cool moment and made me feel super empowered as a player. The hub-like open world, the sense of scale, the variety of enemies, the "one-shot" presentation really helped to elevate this game to be something special. It even has the Arkham-Asylum-esque exploration that I love. I even liked Atreus for most
of the game and his growth was fascinating to watch. This game really surprised me. I cared about every line of dialogue. I became emotionally invested in this story. My turn around on this franchise really speaks to the quality and passion that went into this game. Games have grown up, and I'm happy to see even the biggest previously-dumb blockbuster franchises are now embracing this growth.