I recently completed God Of War Ragnarök and I would say that, broadly speaking, I enjoyed it. Not as much as the previous game, since this one didn’t really add anything new, but it’s always a pleasure to play a game with such high production values and great graphics. I felt they didn’t need the role-playing elements, and there still wasn’t enough variety in enemies, but on both counts it was an improvement on the last one.
The reason I didn’t enjoy the game more though wasn’t due to anything like that but the simple reason that it all went on for just for far too long. According to HowLongToBeat, the 2018 God Of War takes 20½ hours to beat and Ragnarök is 26 hours, although I can tell you I spent much longer on both. Although I’m prepared to admit I might not be the world’s best gamer.
Ragnarök definitely felt like a longer game though, not just because it literally is, or because I was getting tired of it, but because it seemed to have so little sense of direction or purpose. I spent most of the game with little idea of what I was doing or why I was completing any particular mission and just ended up going along with it all, with no real sense of build-up or anticipation for the ending.
Having beaten the game I still couldn’t tell you what it was about, other than Odin wanted to avoid Ragnarök and Kratos… I’m not sure what he felt about it really. All he seemed to care about was protecting his son, which is fair enough but all I really remember is him not wanting to get into a fight and just putting off the inevitable.
At the end of the game all he does is go off and fight Odin anyway and I’m not sure why he couldn’t have just done that the very first time he meets him, since I don’t remember him doing anything to nobble him or make the fight easier. Before someone screams at me that actually he was wearing the Gauntlet of Fratang at the end, that made the fight easier, maybe he was but I’ve forgotten because the game’s story just wasn’t engaging me.
The problem wasn’t that the developers aren’t good at storytelling. There are some really good bits in the game, particularly between Kratos and his son. No, the problem is simply that everything has to be dragged out to 25+ hours for no reason than someone has decided that makes the game better value for money.
I sincerely doubt anyone would’ve planned the story out the way they did if that wasn’t a factor. The plot is far too baggy and bloated for that. This would’ve been much better at half the length and with a much clearer throughline of what was going on, what everyone wanted to achieve, and how they were going to get there.
I’m immediately reminded of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, which I think is a much better game than its predecessor simply because it’s short and sweet. You know what’s going on, you don’t forget plot details because they happened a month ago from your perspective (I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily get a lot of time to game every day), and the characters make a lot more sense as they actually try and sort out their problems in a reasonable time frame.
But of course Ragnarök was never going to be that short because then Sony couldn’t charge £70 for it, so we’re just left with a bloated game that cannot afford to be more concise. It’s a problem I fear all single-player games going forward will face and it makes me glad the indie games are not held to such limitations.
Everyone wants value for money out of their games but if it’s taken to extremes like this it just ends up making the whole experience worse and means that every new game is doomed to be unnecessarily long and contrived.
By reader Royston
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