Mum’s dead and dad’s an angry demigod with questionable parenting skills and a voice like a thousand Barry Whites conducted by Vin Diesel.

Life is… odd.

But such is the existence of Kratos’s son Atreus, living in a land foreign to those familiar with previous God of War outings. We’re not in Greece any more, Toto. But he’s handy with a bow, and although daddy thinks his son has much to learn and bellows at his indiscretions, he’s more than happy to throw the youngster into battle to help his father’s weary frame.

Anyway, mum’s death – an event which predates where the story picks up – has led to the rather morbid father-son expedition to heave her ashes over a distant mountain. No scattering over a rose bush for such a fine woman, apparently.

Enemies appear, back-story is filled, and fatherly love grows. Slowly, but grow it does.

And this is the strength of God of War. Kratos wants boy to become man; he’s fond of the wee urchin, but such are his old-school methods that displaying affection is right out, no matter how strong his desire for the contrary. Their relationship is what makes the game tick. Sure, the mysteries of how baldy got where he did and why surprisingly tough adversaries seem so keen on Atreus are strong enough, but they’re bullet points in the narrative of Kratos’s growing fondness for his son and their horribly dangerous trip.

Kratos has a nifty axe, upgradable, naturally, thanks to a pair of once-tight-now-separated-and-angry dwarfs who provide no little comic relief to an otherwise solemn journey of blood and ridiculously sized foes. You can stuff gems and spells into it, Atreus’s bow can be improved, and the pair can purchase spiffy new armour to stop those pesky mortal injuries and their accompanying stains.

And it’s beautiful. God of War is a jaw-dropping example of what happens when a studio is allowed to take its time (five years, apparently), and the result is little more than a work of art.

It gets tough but sensible adoption of block-and-dodge techniques tips the balance remarkably effectively. Atreus is a useful ally as well, proving an adept distraction for and a sharp slayer of enemies in equal measure.

The open-world setting also means the requisite side quests and treasure hunts which generally I tire of. However, in a game this pretty, it’s a pleasure to traipse back and find some grotty old mask attached to a long-deceased corpse to add to the collection.

Come for the graphics, but stay for Kratos’s journey.