Despite having been out and on shelves for 3 years, Darksiders had illuded me until very recently. When it was originally released I wasn't interested in it at all and knew next to nothing about it; but when its' sequel was released and critically praised, I decided to look into where it all started. I went into the game with an open mind and genuine interest. Given that the series is still pretty relevant, I figured I'd write a review for those who still have yet to give it a try.
*Warning! Minor story spoilers! Avoid if you like stories and stuff!*
Darksiders follows the story of the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, and more specifically, War. The Horsemen were created by The Council as a sort of middleman to ensure order for the end of days; when the armies of Heaven and Hell clash with Earth as their battlefield. The Council stands outside of Heaven, Hell and Man; existing only to maintain order between the three. However, the Apocalypse began too soon and without warning. While the battled raged, War was the first and only Horsemen to arrive on the scene. After battling both Angels and Demons with no help or sign from his brothers, War was set on trial in front of The Council for causing the early Apocalypse. Being wrongly accused, War convinced The Council to let him return to Earth, find the actual cause, and clear his name.
*Story spoilers over! Continue reading!*
At its' core, Darksiders is an action game that draws its' gameplay elements from a few other games. Progressing through the game is very reminiscent of Zelda. The player gets instruction to head to one area of the map where a dungeon is located. While in the dungeon, there are many puzzles. These puzzles are never too difficult, but are just difficult enough to make most ponder for a few moments. At the end of the dungeons, there is always a larger-than-life boss. Fighting these bosses is often easier than fighting some of the regular enemies. This is because it's painfully obvious where the weak points are during the boss battles, while getting at these weak points is just as obvious and easy. Thankfully though, the finishing move on the bosses is always satisfying, leaving the player with a sense of triumph as if they'd conquered something huge. The combat is pretty obviously derived from games such as God of War; this isn't a bad thing though. Fighting enemies is as easy as using a single button, but there are combos that can be performed if the necessary upgrades are purchased. However, buying these combo enhancers isn't really a great idea. The combos are often complicated to remember and regular old button mashing with the normal attack works just as well, if not better. War is also armed with a Wrath meter, which is used to activate his abilities. These abilities range from shooting spears from the ground to turning War's skin into stone. Like God of War, the player has the option of choosing from many different types of weapons and upgrades. These weapons can range from a spinning boomerang to Death's Scythe. Some of the upgrades are active, such as increasing the overall strength of one weapon. Other upgrades are passive, such as restoring War's Wrath over time. Obtaining these weapons and upgrades can be done one of two ways: going through one of the games dungeons or buying them from Vulgrim, a demon merchant that trades souls for items. Souls are the equivalent of currency. Destroying enemies and finding hidden chests is key to obtaining many souls. Vulgrim will also trade souls for artifacts that are hidden around the world. Finding these artifacts is a great reason to explore the many reaches of the map. The world is open in the sense that areas are available at certain times, after completing specific objectives, and attaining the required items. This gives the world a sense of scale during exploration, as there is always a new place to go right up to the end.
The main setting for Darksiders is Earth, but not one that any of us would recognize. Set in a Dystopian future, rubble of buildings and skyscrapers litter the many areas. The areas each have there own unique feel, ranging from the dark sewers to a vast and barren desert. While these areas aren't gigantic, they are big enough to encourage exploration. Exploring is a joy because each area is so beautifully done. The comic book art style is very striking, using bright and vivid colors to bring the world to life. Every character is detailed and varied. The visuals are definitely one of the best things about this game; getting lost in this wonderful world for hours is easy and fun.
Not only does the game look marvelous, but it sounds great as well. I was surprised to see that Darksiders was fully voice acted. Each character has a distinct voice that suits there appearance, and even though some of the dialogue falls short of spectacular due to the writing, at least it sounds nice. The music doesn't stand out, but it sets the tone for a lot of the dungeons. Overall, Darksiders is an exceptional sounding game.
Darksiders pleasantly surprised me. I didn't think that it would be anything amazing and life changing, but one thing it did very well was deliver a fun experience. The story's premise is interesting; although, a little after the halfway point, falls short of gripping. Luckily though, the smooth and exciting combat, great dungeon layouts, cast of voice actors, and beautiful world design keeps the player invested until the stories over. Darksiders may have taken a lot of its' gameplay elements from other games, but it did something wonderful and fun by putting them all together in one neat package.