Let’s see. At this point, Kratos has killed every God, every Titan, the vast majority of monsters and mythical creatures, every famous Hero; Death himself, and in this latest title, he is going to have killed the Furies, spirits of Vengeance. At some point there was a rumor that the developers wanted him to move into other mythologies, simply so that he had more to kill. I feel fine giving away who he’s after in this one, because God of War has always been about the journey rather than the events within. We know how his story is going to end, so when we travel back into the past, we can enjoy seeing more of his badassery on his way there.
The game begins with a brief background, before showing us Kratos chained up as a prisoner. The tutorial shows his escape, and from there, the story jumps back and forth between that area and the events leading up to it. It’s a different narrative style for God of War, and it works rather well here. There is of course the customary hugely impressive boss fight at the start, and it is as satisfactory as ever.
The formula for God of War feels truly perfect by this stage. The graphics are jaw dropping, truly incredibly astounding. The sense of scale and power invoked is massive, the areas are clever and detailed, the enemies are varied, and combat is incredibly satisfying for the entire game. In this installment, Kratos has had some of his movement abilities enhanced, so travelling feels more fluid, and several more puzzle elements have been included throughout gameplay. In fact, the story is probably the weakest aspect of this title, because while it isn’t bad, it simply does not have the same scale and sense of tenseness that GoW III would have had by design.
Combat is as standard as ever, with the addition of ordinary weapons that Kratos can pick up and use now, as well as Elemental Blades of Chaos, which Kratos can switch between mid-combat. Fighting is all about his standard Blades in this one, but the way in which each mode interacts is still very fun.
The most startling addition to God of War is a multiplayer mode, which I had dismissed as cash in, but it is in fact really very fun. Players can customize a character to serve a specific God, and then equip specific armor and abilities, more of which are unlocked and upgraded in various ways. From there they compete in various modes, either solo or with teams, with levels that feel truly inspired, and almost as impressive as anything else in the series. Combat is fluid and fun in this mode, and there is little lag, if any at all. I was rather blown away by how fun this could be.
God of War: Ascension is a usual length of a God of War title, not especially long, but not incredibly short either. However, the multiplayer mode will give you hours of extended play time. Ascension is an A-class game, and I hope Kratos is either retired after this, or in the more likely case that he gets another game, the team really lead it in a different direction, because it feels as though we’ve reached the peak, and I would hate to see it hit a downhill slide from here.