Platform(s): Playstation 4

Who knew that a change of scenery could revive a stale character to this extent? God of War (2018) is a soft reboot of Kratos. He’s no longer the Ancient Greek, turned-up-to-11 rage monster that we remember from the seven prior games. This is a more subdued, reflective, Norse-inspired Kratos who wants to teach his young son right from wrong.

It would have been easy for the developers to simply take the hack-and-slash conventions and mechanics of the previous games and have us fight trolls instead of Titans. But they went all in and revamped the entire look and feel of things. It’s open world, rather than “on the rails.” Instead of using a freewheeling, cinematic camera that swoops and zooms, this game fixes a static camera right behind Kratos’ shoulder. The Blades of Chaos have been replaced by a more appropriate battle ax, and Kratos’ son, Atreus (voiced by mid90s star Sunny Suljic), accompanies and fights alongside him.

Kratos has something to lose this time, and he has motivations beyond revenge. He grows and matures more in this game than in all the prior games combined, giving the player much more of an investment in this franchise than ever before.