Backseat Review: God of War
We've all been there. We're married to a gamer that very unfortunately loves the exact same games we do, and there is a thumb battle that dictates who gets to play it, which I sometimes lose. Since I will eventually have to sit down and backseat a game (and since I'm addicted to writing), I decided to write backseat reviews on the games I have to sit back and watch. Welcome to my God of War backseat review.
God of War was released on PC and I demanded a thumb battle be fought for who gets to experience the masterpiece on the master race. Sorry, I promise to keep any further gaming politics jokes out. After an unfortunate loss on my end, my wife triumphantly picked up the mouse and keyboard, booted the game, and began crying at the opening cutscenes. As did I.
I've always said it, and I'll say it again: One of the most crucial parts of making a fun backseat game is to have a story that is capable of investing both players and observers; and God of War more than meets that criteria. With an engrossing story, gorgeous graphics, and horribly flawed characters to root for, it feels almost identical to watching a movie unfold.
God of War has four different difficulties, and this might heavily affect whether you and your buddy amicably split ways after watching the other play. The two easier difficulties are manageable and should make fights a breeze but fun enough to watch, the issue begins with the latter two: "Give me a challenge", and "Give me God of War". Being three-shot by enemies whilst you have to chip at them as if you were building an ice sculpture with a toothpick, these two difficulties make the game feel borderline impossible in some battles that require precision and perfection to survive.
The problem with this is, not everyone is going to love watching their buddy play the same fight over a dozen times until they perfect the battle and eventually persevere. The death cutscene becomes repetitive, Atreus' desperate screams for his father gets stuck in your head into eternity, and then the cutscene that played before the fight happens again, forcing you to learn certain parts of the game.
Of course, you can always just pretend to be Atreus 2.0 and scream at your partner whenever they're getting attacked in a different direction, or become an omniscient version of him and tell your buddy that they can in fact use Spartan Rage for the 50th time in that fight because apparently, you don't think they will remember the other 49 times you told them.
Participating in world exploration and helping with the puzzles is an absolute joy. Uniting with your partner and trying out different things or telling them where to look can be nearly as fun as playing yourself, as you both work together to find all of the collectibles in the game feels like a unified task. And, it is certainly a joy to watch the game unfold alongside your partner because of the sheer storytelling wonder God of War truly is.
A lot of the beauty and fun in God of War is its story. Although the game is incredibly fun to play through due to the exhilarating battles, watching the game unfold through its story without playing through it doesn't take away from the impact. As the backseat gamer, you get to see all of the care and love put into the game, pay attention to every piece of dialogue that happens during the combat, and just overall marvel at 2018's Game of the Year.