A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that God of War is an extremely violent, bloody action game for the PS4. Using sharp weapons, his fists and feet, and his son's bow and arrow, the main character kills countless people, monsters, and animals, sometimes in very brutal fashion, resulting in bloodshed, gore, and dismemberment. For example, players will be able to rip monsters in half with their hands, tear the wings from flying creatures, and bury axes in enemies' faces. Strong language in the game dialogue includes "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole," and one character constantly uses crude terms/language when interacting with other characters, mainly in a store setting. This installment in the popular God of War franchise is the first one for the PS4. While controls are different from those of previous games, they're easy to learn, and there are multiple difficulty levels to reduce players' frustration.
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What's it about?
In this new beginning for the GOD OF WAR series, Kratos has left Greece and the civilized world for the snowy woods, where he and his wife had been raising their son -- until her recent death. When a mysterious stranger attacks their home, Kratos and the boy head for the mountains for what quickly becomes an epic adventure. Aiding them in their quest is a fluid, intuitive mix of both updated and classic gameplay from this long-running hack-and-slash action series, including a more modern camera perspective and some deeper customization options.
Is it any good?
Though this adventure updates much of the franchise's iconic gameplay, it does so in a way that maintains everything great about the mature series. While God of War tries to show an older, more mature Kratos who has attempted to move past his younger, angrier days, he quickly finds himself dragged back into fighting with gods when his wife dies and he's left to raise his son alone. Which, as usual with this series, involves lots of exploring, a bunch of rock climbing, and a whole lot of smacking monsters in the head and chest with sharp instruments. It also means a spike in brutal enemy destruction, because Kratos is particularly creative when it comes to killing opponents. From impaling monsters to literally ripping a creature's face off with his bare hands, there's no stop to the brutality once you start the adventure.
This installment makes a number of notable gameplay changes. Initially, they might seem like minor adjustments, but their inclusion radically revitalizes the franchise's action. The tweaks include a new over-the-shoulder perspective, a player-controlled camera, and a hearty axe that not only can slice and dice with the best of them, but also can be thrown. Even cooler (no pun intended), the axe can freeze some enemies in place, and it can be used to encase devices, like a counterweight, in ice to keep a gate open. Kratos also gets a lot of help from the kid, whose bow and arrow can be used, when Dad commands it, to kill enemies or distract them so Kratos can kill them more easily. While the game does have a couple minor issues -- like accidentally using a health crystal when trying to pick up loot, or the incredibly tiny size of the text and button prompts -- the addictive combat, clever problems, and varied action make God of War not just the most compelling entry in this series since 2008's Chains of Olympus, but also one of 2018's most engaging action games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about video game violence. In God of War, you frequently kill monsters and animals. Do you think you'd feel differently if you also killed other people? Why do you think that is?
Talk about mentoring. In this game, Kratos tries to teach his son how to survive. What can you learn from his teaching style about how you can pass along what you know? How would you change his teaching style?
Discuss Norse mythology. God of War is rooted in ancient myths and legends that people used to believe. What do you know about the Norse gods? Where else have you heard the names Thor and Odin?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: April 20, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: March 15, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.