Mobility Game Review – God of War

God of War is the epic continuation of the Playstation exclusive series created by Santa Monica studios. This is the game review of the accessibility for low mobility players.
Game Accessibility Nexus

God of War is the epic continuation of the Playstation exclusive series created by Santa Monica studios. This graphically beautiful semi-open world action/adventure has been crafted by real God of War fans. 

The last time we saw Kratos, he had finally gained revenge on his Father Zeus after slaying the whole Greek pantheon. 

As we begin Kratos has left his past behind by moving North, living in a cabin in the forests in the Norse realm of Midgard. God of War’s touching story focuses on Fatherhood, with the ever-evolving relationship between Kratos and his son Atreus at the core.

Kratos from behind, with axe in hand, facing a nordic style construction.

Settings Menu

God of War has some thoughtful accessibility features for gamers with mobility issues however there are a few critical omissions. 

Accessibility menu with options to change repeated button presses, chisel doors, sprint, stun grab, set subtitle background, speaker name, ambient camera sway, camera shake and increase subtitle size.

The accessibility menu gives you the choice to:

  • Change certain actions from repeated button taps to a hold.
  • Perform a stun grab by holding the Interact button (Circle) instead of R3.
  • Activate Rage Mode by pressing Cross + Circle.
  • Hold the dodge button (Cross) instead of sprinting by clicking L3. 

These options are ideal to reduce stick clicks for some gamers who can manage button holds.

Gameplay menu with options to adjust controller vibration, change interact/evade config, select combat and quick turn mode, lock on camera.

The gameplay settings menu allows you to:

  • Choose the classic face button configuration which swaps R1 (light attack) and R2 (heavy attack) with Square (Atreus button) and Triangle (recall axe). 
  • Change the default quick turn button to either left stick down + L3 or my choice of pressing both R1 + R2. 
  • Use a single button press to open special doors with a chisel, rather than the fiddly action of moving the right stick to find the right spot.
Camera menu with options for horizontal and vertical rotation speed, invert horizontal and vertical control, enable aim assist, recentre camera on attack and strafe assist.

The camera settings allow you to:

  • Increase rotation speed of the camera and the aim camera.
  • Utilize the aim assist option if you have difficulties with precise aiming during combat.

Default subtitles are fairly small so I recommend increasing the subtitle text size to maximum but having options for subtitle background and showing speaker tags is great.

Gameplay

Weapons, Armor and Skills menu showing a description of abilities, a preview and how to perform them.

God of War has an intuitive behind the shoulder third-person shooter style control scheme with clever alternate control options. Combat is centered around Kratos’s weapon the Leviathan axe, which can be thrown and recalled with a satisfying meaty thunk. You gain experience points by completing side quests to upgrade weapons, armor and more or to unlock a plethora of combat moves.

The biggest and most welcome change in God of War is the banishment of Quick Time Events, no longer will you worry about hitting the wrong button prompts, finishers are now just an enjoyably brutal cutscene.

Difficulty

The 4 difficulty options below are adequate but not as informative as Jedi Fallen Order regarding what gameplay mechanics have been adjusted.

  • Give Me a Story, experience the story with easier combat.
  • Give Me a Balanced Experience, a reasonably challenging adventure.  
  • Give Me a Challenge, demanding combat as enemies are stronger.  
  • Give Me God of War, only unlockable after completion. 

Controls

Default gamepad controls
Gamepad alternate controls scheme

Kratos

  • Kratos has a light attack (R1) and a powerful heavy attack (R2).
  • L1 transforms his wrist gauntlet into a shield to block or parry attacks. 
  • As you unlock Runic abilities you can unleash these devastating attacks by holding L1 and pressing either attacks depending on your loadout. 
  • Mobility during combat is crucial so dodge by pressing Cross once or twice to roll and Dpad Down to quick turn. 
  • Interact by pressing Circle to open chests, pick up health items or to climb. Enchantments are activated by holding (L1 + Circle). 
  • You sprint by clicking (L3) and can unlock various sprint attacks.
  • R3 is your enemy lock-on, stun grab and finisher button. 
  • Kratos is an expert unarmed fighter, to build up his stun meter swap between axe or fists (Dpad Right). 
  • Access your map,  skills menu, codex, upgrade menu and control options with the touchpad button. 
  • Kratos’s signature Rage Mode gives him a damage boost with specific upgradeable moves, activate by clicking both (L3 + R3).
  • Unlockable moves are based around combos, holding attack buttons and special stances activating by delaying button patterns.
Kratos raising his shield to block an enemy attack

Leviathan Axe

  • Kratos aims his Leviathan Axe by holding L2, depending on which attack button is pressed he either throws the axe horizontally (R1) or vertically (R2). Pressing Triangle recalls the axe. 
  • The R1 throw is good for tripping enemies or getting headshots whereas R2 freezes enemies or environmental puzzle objects. 
  • The added beauty of the axe is that even if you miss, you can tactically re-align yourself and use the recall to hit enemies in the back. 
Small window displaying Atreus and a brief tutorial of how to use his abilities.

Atreus

  • Square is the dedicated Atreus button; you can command him to fire arrows at enemies with his bow or attack them with his dagger. 
  • Atreus is an asset as he can independently stun enemies, create combo opportunities and most importantly resurrect you. 
  • He can easily target flying enemies or enemies up high, certain teleporting enemies cannot be beaten without him. 
  • Luckily, Atreus will never die but he can be pinned down by multiple enemies so it’s best to keep him in your sightline.

Accessibility Issues

It’s shocking that God of War doesn’t have full in-game remapping capabilities, with that gamers can tailor the controls to fit around them. 

For example, you could remap R2 to Square then quick-turning using (R1+R2) would be easier, due to pressing with 2 different fingers.

The default configuration of the signature Rage Mode is double stick presses which is equally impossible as the alternate method of pressing Cross + Circle. There are 3 times in the game where Kratos cannot continue without Rage Mode so I required assistance. 

My solution would be to assign Rage Mode to Dpad Down if you choose to assign quick turning to (R1+R2).

The critical omission of an aim toggle, holding the L2 trigger, aiming with the right stick then pressing either throw button is tiring especially when speed is necessary during some story puzzles.

Health has to be manually picked up using Circle, rather than automatically which is difficult during intense combat.

The narrow field of view means that you can easily miss enemies behind you and get attacked, also you constantly have to use the right stick to alter the camera to keep enemies in your sightline.

God of War has plenty of puzzle chests that challenge you to master all your skills. However, I was unable to open chests that required quick throws of your axe to hit 3 bells located around the environment. This optional gameplay element will be difficult for gamers with mobility issues to complete.

Halfway through the game you have to fight against 2 bosses, it’s the closest thing to a QTE and can be a serious barrier for completion. During a defence stage, you have to stand back-to-back with Atreus, wait for the attack direction alert which is generally behind you, find the right spot then press L1 to block with your shield.

Once Kratos and Atreus have completed their epic 20-hour story, there’s generous endgame content. I must warn you though that this content features the toughest fights in the entire game.

Accessibility Tips

Kratos unarmed dealing a brutal elbow hit to an enemy's face

Kratos has great prowess fighting unarmed to build up his stun meter, to holster the Leviathan Axe you press Dpad Right however if you throw your axe and don’t recall it then you are unarmed. Useful when you are fighting both normal enemies and enemies immune to your axe at the same time.

If you hold Cross to sprint then let go of the button, you will carry on sprinting for a couple of seconds so that you can then press attack. During sprinting if you press Cross again you will roll, otherwise rolling would be a double press of Cross.

Dodging will make you invulnerable to attack until the action frame is over whereas you can still be damaged by enemy attacks whilst rolling.

Final Thoughts

God of War has satisfying combat and an incredible narrative focused on fatherhood, a theme rarely seen in games. Unfortunately, many gamers with mobility disabilities will not be able to enjoy the experience due to multiple completion barriers. The accessibility options available are thoughtfully designed and alternate configurations do lessen the impact of stick clicks however the changes rely on button holds. Rage Mode is still impossible to activate. The omission of a crucial aim toggle and full remapping options are definitely deal-breakers.

Mobility Game Review - God of War

OVERALL SCORE - 6.5

6.5