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God of War (2018) – My first ever favorite game

Two years ago when I first started patient gaming one of the first games I played was OG Final Fantasy 7. After posting about my mostly positive experience I remember being flooded with messages from long-time fans congratulating me on finishing one of the greatest games of all time, an all-time best. Semantically I understood, but practically– logistically–I had doubts. As I hovered from random encounter to random encounter I couldn't help but wonder – had FF7 ever been so great?

Twenty years from now some teenage scrub is going to have the nerve to ask me the same question that I wondered about FF7. They'll come to me with a propeller beanie on their head and a lollipop in their hand and mumble in no general direction; was God of War (2018) ever that great? Oh, it was great. God of War was great. It was better than great. It was my first ever favorite game.

The first time I threw the Leviathan axe and felt the satisfying *clunk* as it landed back in my hand I was hooked. Am I literally Thor? The combat only got better from there as I learned to fight barehanded with my axe on leave and to utilize Atreus's sharpshooting to keep enemies occupied. Further progress led to the discovery and unlocking of new systems, and with each layer the combat grew deeper and richer.

I didn't want to stop fighting so I found myself naturally leaning into the exploration. Every nook and cranny I scoured. If there was an alternate path I took it, and if there was a sealed chest I had better find a way to open it. I was doing favors and time trials and exploring the mist, and the game was rewarding me handily for my troubles at each and every turn. New armors, fresh runic attacks, talismans, enchantments — every chest was a chance to reinvent my character.

This drive towards exploration came as a backdrop to one of the best told stories in video games. God of War is littered with epic moments framed by excellent pacing that never allowed my interest to dull. This game is amazing. A compendium of all the jaw-droppingly EPIC moments from the game would lead to a post that was way too long (already too long? lulullululz), so instead I'm going to highlight two moments that stand out as all-time greats for me.

The first is the battle with the charismatic homeless dude who shows up at your cabin relatively early in the game. From the way the battle starts to its blending of tutorials, quick time events and standard combat — this has to be one of the greatest boss battles I've ever played in a game. It's not that hard but the fight had me legitimately on the edge on my seat wondering what the hell was going on.

The second all-time great moment comes when Kratos learns he has to return to his past. The music plays, the slow boat ride, the walk to his basement and then – BAM! – old Kratos is back in all his violent masculine glory! What a surprise! I could not believe the writers waited so long in the story to make such an epic reveal.

As I'm getting over the high of finishing God of War, I can't help but wonder how closely this feeling resembles that of playing FF7 back in the 90s, not because of any stylistic similarities but because of the similarity in relative quality. God of War stands head and shoulders above any other game that I've played. Like FF7 was during its time, God of War feels like a celebration of the medium. It's an achievement both in technology and in art, and I honestly feel lucky to have played it around the time of its release. God of War is epic: it is my first ever favorite game, truly a masterpiece.

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