Games of 2022: God of War’s awesome dual protagonists and a look back at Horizon Forbidden West’s accessibility options.

This article contains spoilers for God of War Ragnarok!

I’ve noticed a common theme in recent PlayStation exclusives: the addition of the dual protagonist perspective. For example, you play both as Ratchet & Rivet in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and as Ellie and Abby in The Last Of Us Part 2. However, I think Santa Monica Studios absolutely loved the two-protagonist narrative in God Of War Ragnarok hit .

Embarking on my journey with Kratos and Atreus filled me with joy. Their father-son relationship was my favorite aspect of the franchise reboot, alongside that addictive Leviathan ax reminder pounding Raised Right Hand into Kratos.

Digital Foundry on God of War Ragnarok.

Here, the two protagonists open up the narrative space, allowing players to follow the perspective of Kratos and Atreus and explore their relationship with the wider Norse realms and companion characters like Freya.

It makes a big difference. The player already understands the mindset of Kratos and his thoughts on Atreus. As the game progresses, however, the player slowly begins to unravel clues to Atreus’ growing maturity and emotional strength.

The Atreus segments give us enough time to spend with characters that Kratos would see as enemies. Atreus’ relationship with Odin, Thor, and Thrud presents the player with valid emotional connections with antagonistic presences, flipping the table of our perceptions. Teaming up with Thor and commanding him to throw Mjolnir to attack enemies on my behalf was awesome. I was surprised to get a more intimate glimpse into Thor, Sif, and Thrud’s household, and it also reflected the fracturing relationship between Kratos and Atreus. The phrase “For our children we must be better” is at the heart of Ragnarok, framed perfectly in the powerful ending to the pivotal battle with Thor. Kratos uses kindness and compassion to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. Kratos eventually trusts Atreus, giving him the ultimate choice of how to deal with Odin. “This is your chosen son, I trust you,” he says, and Atreus makes the difficult but right choice of empathy – walking the path of justice over anger and violence. “We survived today because of your decisions. Who we can trust. Whom we call friend. Son. You’re ready,” says Kratos. Atreus replies, “Remember our promise.” Kratos replies, “Loki will leave.” With an emotional tremor, Kratos then touches his heart while saying, “Atreus… stay.” The epilogue is emotionally impactful because we finally have to face the colossal boss – the emotional breakthrough. Kratos eventually believes that Atreus has the power to have autonomy in his life and to trust him. Kratos learns that without the company of Atreus, Kratos can easily hatch back into the deadly monster witnessed by the death of Heimdall. Atreus ultimately makes Kratos a better god. The perspective of the two protagonists allows us to follow Kratos and Atreus on their separate journeys, ultimately bringing them closer together to appreciate their unique father-son relationship.

Still here? I couldn’t let 2022 go without talking a little about another PlayStation exclusive that’s consumed much of my year. I want to focus on the accessibility aspects of this second PlayStation game, namely Horizon Forbidden West. (I played it on PS4 because the PS5 didn’t work for my accessibility setup.)

The wealth of accessibility settings in Forbidden West gives players control over their gameplay and the ability to tailor it to their abilities, ensuring enjoyment isn’t spoiled by unnecessary barriers. It’s a great start for Guerrilla, who can design Forbidden West with accessibility in mind from the start. The studio’s attempt is extremely well executed and means more players can enjoy the amazing characters and wondrous world of Forbidden West.

Horizon forbidden west.

Guerrilla understands that disabled players don’t just want an easy mode, they also want control over important aspects of gameplay, like how much damage Aloy takes or how much damage enemies take. The main aspect of combat is accurately tearing down enemy pieces for crafting purposes. However, the precision required to do this can be difficult to achieve as the enemies are highly mobile.

Because of this, Forbidden West has added the option to loot those specific pieces once you get the kill. This option was great for me as it provided a safety net when I forgot to rip off parts in combat due to fatigue. The auto-heal option eliminated the need to press down on the d-pad, which was especially useful when I made the ridiculous decision to fight a Tremortusk and two Scrappers with low-tier weapons. If you’re assuming I survived the massacre, then you’re absolutely right… if right means wrong. I’m a proponent of implementing Toggles and Guerrilla was happy to oblige here as well. There are toggles for aiming, opening the weapon wheel, crafting, Shieldwing activation, and pullcaster. The crafting toggle is clever: you can easily craft arrows or ammo while in the weapon wheel by tapping X instead of holding it. During the fight it made a big difference by reducing fatigue and unnecessary constant muscle use. This is complemented by the option to increase the weapon wheel’s time slowdown. It doesn’t stop time completely, but slows it down enough for me to select the right weapon, ammo type, or alternate fire.

Guerrilla added sprint when the left stick is pushed all the way forward, and this option allowed me to slide (by pressing crouch) for the first time. But the clever thing about it is that if you crouch and push the stick all the way forward, you won’t ruin the stealth by accidentally sprinting. This option should appear in all games because sliding is useful but above all super awesome.

Aloy from Horizon Forbidden West
Horizon forbidden west.

I wouldn’t say that Horizon Forbidden West has the best control remapping system seen in PlayStation exclusives – Insomniac’s Spider-Man Miles Morales is still the star – but it’s not far off. It is flexible enough to change button layout and change layouts for different contexts, e.g. B. when aiming, separate joint actions or layer actions on a button. For example, the new ability to glide with the shield wing can be assigned to most face buttons since it only activates after jumping. Remapping surprisingly allows you to remap the Interact action to other buttons; I layered it onto the dodge action, which freed up the triangular button that can be used as the Use Trap button. The great aspect of the Use Trap button is that holding it down gives you access to your backpack, where you can craft or switch between traps without using the d-pad.

The choice to assign actions while aiming is great. You’ll need to consider controls for your pullcaster to activate the all-important focus mode, which slows time for increased accuracy, and for the first time your weapons have multiple unlockable alternative fires. The additional option to automatically activate focus mode when aiming makes gameplay more intuitive, fluid and engaging.

The only accessibility issue with Horizon Forbidden West is that the process of switching between three alternate fires in the weapon wheel requires the use of the directional pad. There should be an option to either use the left stick or trigger to trade. Alternate fires are important tools in Aloy’s arsenal, and switching between them is usually a matter of life and death. Additionally, Forbidden West continues the advances we’re seeing in accessibility. See you in 2023!

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