Welcome to The High Score, where we explore the creative, immersive intersections of cannabis and gaming through reviews, product pairings, and more. Check out more installments of The High Score series here.
Title: God of War
Available On: Playstation 4
Summary: If you’ve never played a God of War game before, buckle your metaphorical seatbelt: this high-octane action-adventure series is in it for the visceral experiences that leave the word “Woah” permanently dangling from your lips.
Standing upon the foundational narrative of the first three God of War games, this fourth installment—simply named God of War—continues the story of the demigod protagonist Kratos as he journeys with his son, Atreus, through pre-Viking era Scandinavia. Though the backstory revealed in previous games vastly enriches the character of Kratos, this newest version quickly acquaints you with the cold-as-ice and tough-as-nails beefcake.
What really sets God of War on the topmost shelf as a game is its ability to develop compelling characters, plot, and dialogue that are then gilded with a creative retelling of ancient mythologies—in this case, Norse mythology.
Though steeped in rich history and lore, the game’s primary engine is in the intricate dance of combat that requires concentration, coordination, and muscle memory. That being said, is God of War conducive for higher states of mind?
NO. Not at all. At least, not at first (unless you’re already a well-seasoned God of War champion). But we’ll get into that more soon.
Characters and Plot
From the very start, your goal as Kratos is clear: travel to the highest mountain peak in all the realms to spread the ashes of your departed lover, mother of your son Atreus. What begins as a simple day hike turns into a full-fledged epic adventure that involves dragons, giants, and perhaps the scariest challenge of all, raising an angsty little boy.
This journey stretching across the nine realms of Norse cosmology is a story in and of itself, but where God of War really shines is in the (ironically) human narrative overlaying the fantastical tale of gods; Kratos must sculpt his son into a fearless warrior with the sole purpose of survival, while Atreus clings to his sensitive and philanthropic nature, creating a constant push-and-pull dialogue between Kratos and Atreus that fills the silences of travel and seafaring navigation. This devotion to constant character development makes God of War feel as much a movie as it is video game.
Though oozing with scenes of over-the-top action and violence, God of War takes no crutch in its authentic and articulate storytelling. Throughout the game, Kratos is constantly dropping wisdom and truth bombs, imbuing his son with the lessons of life. And as the story’s “reader,” I can’t help but feel that I’ve learned a thing or two from Papa Kratos as well.
Immersion and Atmosphere
One of the most visually stunning games I’ve played to date, God of War masterfully dunks you into a world that is all but your own. A stranger to the language, customs, and gods of ancient Scandinavia, Kratos relies on his son for translation and navigation. Through this lens, you will be charting the cosmic realms of a mythology so elaborate and inspirited, you’ll come to understand how it inspired modern masterpieces like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
Notably absent in this game is any sort of loading screen to take you out of the cinematic flow of the game. Instead, the game runs seamlessly, allowing you to sink in for hours on end before realizing that you are indeed a citizen of Midgard—I mean, planet Earth. Add a little cannabis, and you can utterly lose yourself in the storytelling and amazing landscapes this game has to offer.
Speaking of breathtaking landscapes, God of War nails aesthetic perfection from the macro to the micro. Whether looking up into the starry astral realms or gazing into the granular detail of snow being stomped, the game’s atmosphere is a work of art in and of itself. Bringing technical mastery to lucid imagination, God of War breathes life into a world that has so long laid flat on the pages of ancient text.
Like with all new video games, I booted God of War and sank into the cinematic introduction following an extra-large dab off the rig. With full confidence in my technical abilities and hand-eye coordination, I readied myself for the first battle of the game. How hard could it be to knock down a few low-level skeletal enemies?
Within about 15 seconds of combat, my Kratos lay lifelessly on the ground. A Greek god was dead, all because he got too stoned. Thankfully, the game allows you to modify the difficulty; it wasn’t long before I settled on the easiest possible difficulty, a pace far more conducive to stoned gameplay than its so-called “normal mode” (there’s also hard and extra-hard modes for masochistic gamers who like to expel all profanities from their body while they play).
God of War is no simple game. As you level up, you’ll gain access to all kinds of new moves achievable with intricate button combos that make the controller feel more like an instrument than a tool for fun. These chain-combos get easier with time, but starting off, it can be difficult to operate Kratos through the lens of cannabis.
Overall, while God of War may present a technical challenge to those who consider cannabis a key ingredient to gaming, I dare you to try. The game is quickly pocketing 10/10 ratings from major review sites, and understandably so: with mind-melting atmospheres, heart-tugging dialogue, and a primordial tone that connects us to our most ancient human essence, God of War is sure to redefine the word “masterpiece” in the world of gaming.