Over the next few days, we will reveal what we believe are the 10 best games of 2018, organized by release date. Then on December 19, we will reveal which of the nominees gets to take home the coveted title of GameSpot’s Game of the Year. So be sure to come back then for the big announcement, and in the meantime, follow along with all of our other end-of-the-year coverage collected in our Best of 2018 hub.
The new God of War from Santa Monica Studio is a masterful reinvention of a now-classic PlayStation series and, primarily, its lead character. Kratos went from being a killing machine driven solely by rage in previous games, to, well, a killing machine driven by paternal instinct and a promise made to his deceased wife. But even without being compared to his former self, Kratos’ newfound sensitivity and self-awareness are as effective as they are because of how well the character and his journey are executed in general. For fans, it’s great to witness the character’s pivot from yesteryear’s action darling to today’s loving father figure in disguise, but Kratos and the game he leads are simply excellent on their own terms.
Many of the new systems, narrative beats, and surprises at hand feed off of the partnership between the mighty Kratos and his scrappy son, Atreus. The boy’s bow and arrow play an important role in combat, because without his chain whips in hand, Kratos is left to engage enemies up close with his Leviathan Axe, or rely on his throwing skills to strike enemies from a distance. The latter may require a bit more work on your part, but there’s also nothing else in games quite like Kratos calling the axe back to his hand, a la Thor, culminating in an abrupt and meaty thwack upon arrival. Thanks to well-thought-out controls, managing both Kratos’ brute force and Atreus’ elementally charged bow and arrow shots is far easier than you might imagine despite also adding new layers of strategy to combat.