Darksiders Review! It’s a Hell of a ride!
Overview:Systems: PC, PS3, XBOX 360
Pros:Great blending of game mechanics, Excellent art direction, Top notch voice acting
Cons:Could be more difficult, No real gameplay innovation
In preparation for Darksiders 2, we turn the clock back and cast judgement on this 2010 classic. Saddle up and ride as War to clear his name and uncover the truth!
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Darksiders is a love letter to all that is awesome in third person action adventure gaming. The best elements from some of the most iconic games all rolled up in a gritty post apocalyptic setting. Say your prayers boys and girls, War has arrived and with him comes judgment for all!
The apocalypse is upon us! The seven seals have been broken and the four horsemen have been summoned. War arrives to a sea of chaos. Meteors pummel the earth and the once great metropolis he stands in has been reduced to hell on earth. Angels fight demons, demons beset humans, and War judges all. Arriving at the center of the city War finds the angel general Abaddon and his second in command Uriel fighting the demon horde. As War approaches Straga rises and kills Abaddon. War tries his best to beat the beast but is weak and falls as well. He awakens to find that it’s been 100 years since his battle with Straga and the beginning of Armageddon. Also, War has been blamed for its onset by the Charred Council. That not all the seals had been broken and he rode on his own. Now with the Earth destroyed and in Hell’s rule, War convinces the Council to let him clear his name and find the true culprit that unleashed this conflict.
The best way to describe this adventure is a mature Legend of Zelda. The combat in its basic form seems similar to God of War or Devil May Cry. But its puzzle elements and dungeon designs harken back to Nintendo’s classic. I can go down the list of equipment. Crossblade (boomerang) check, Abyssmal Chain (hookshot) check, and Ruin (epona) check, all very reminiscent of Link’s gadgets. Then there are some newer elements that come into play like platforming similar to Uncharted and the Voidwalker which is homage to the Portal gun. Most of these items have not just puzzle solving abilities but combat implications as well. The lands of this smited world are expansive and will require all your newfound abilities to uncover the many items hidden within it. War will need all the life and wrath shards he can find to become stronger so backtracking will be a must.
Thankfully, it’s not hard to get around after you meet old Vulgrim. He is your purveyor of goods and also the master of the serpent tunnels. Here you will use your collected souls to purchase new weapons, moves, and items. His stores also act as travel hubs. Once you locate a new Vulgrim location it can be used to travel to a previous area.
Combat plays out mostly with swordplay but you will acquire other melee weapons. The Scythe is the primary weapon of War’s brother Death and the Tremor Gauntlet. Both are great for crowd control and can be upgraded with new attacks. They also level up with combat experience (i.e. kills). Getting your weapons leveled up will unlock stronger attacks for purchase. Similar to God of War once you have pummeled your opponent long enough you will be given a button prompt for a finisher. These are a gruesome spectacle of carnage! Lastly, there are some third person shooting sequences that help mix things up. Again, nothing here is reinventing the wheel. More like adding bling to the ones we already own!
From the dreadful ravaged world to the sights of eden, everything is gorgeous. All the artwork is provided by comic book artist and creative director at Vigil games Joe Madureria. Joe is known for working on comics such as X-Men, Battlechasers, and now is currently doing Avenging Spider-man. Everything in this world looks like a comic come to life. Destroyed human cities, ancient cathedral ruins, and lava filled canyons all pop with color and ambience. Little things like the water running down the walls of the cathedral from the thunderstorm above or old newspapers blowing in the wind through derelict streets are particularly impressive.
Everything runs smoothly for the most part. There are some frame rate drops and very minor screen tear but nothing that kills the experience. It should be noted that upon release the Xbox 360 version had horrendous screen tear but ran a bit smoother than the PS3 version. Vigil listened to the complaints and patched the Xbox 360. This did have an effect on the frame rate. After playing it pre-patch then patched, it was quite noticeable. However, taking a break from the game and now going through it again in preparation for Darksiders 2, it’s not so obvious. Newcomers to the series won’t know the difference.
Swords clang, demons howl, and the undead moan with the best of them. The voice cast is also impressive. Liam O’brien is particularly excellent in the role of War. And Mark Hamill who voices the Watcher always knocks it out of the park. Another thing I loved that’s referenced for Zelda is that “I just found or did something awesome”chime. In this case it’s bit more demonic sounding. A grand sweeping orchestral soundtrack awaits all that take on this crusade. They really got the sounds to compliment the visuals rounding out an excellent presentation.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Darksiders. I loved everything about the story, setting, and lore they built around this universe. I always wanted another mature action rpg since Soul Reaver and I got it. I payed full admission when it came out in 2010 and still don’t regret it. You can find Darksiders most places for twenty dollars and at that price it’s a steal.