The lights are on
Darksiders 1 is an enjoyable experience with a standout cast
of diverse characters, biblically/mythically inspired story, excellent choices
for voice acting, unbelievably fantastic art direction, and is just simple fun
with the hack-and-slash/puzzle solving/platforming gameplay. I know this game
was the product of a bunch of passionate people that poured all their
creativity into it, but certain things hold DS1 back from greatness. To name a
few, there isn't much replay value or side-content to delve into (excluding the
fact that it's a lengthy game that takes 15-20 hours to complete), a
significant amount of the settings are mundane, and the gameplay isn't revolutionary
by any means. The main solution to problems like these could have been
addressed with one word: expansion. This would have made it even better than it
already was, which is why I was super excited for the sequel after reading
Gameinformer's cover story on it two year ago. I'd heard about the first game
before and decided to give it a try last summer. And since I've already
presented my thoughts on DS1, it'll suffice to say the problems (albeit small
in comparison to the pros) I had with it were being resolved in Darksiders 2.
After months of anticipation, I've finally been able to realize if this is
...Why write a review on this game
now? I'm certainly late to the party, but the reason why I'm doing this is
because I want to dedicate it to Vigil Games due to their recent disbandment resulting
from THQ's bankruptcy. It was a sad state of affairs that no one offered to
take in the entire studio when they were on auction (only a part of them were
offered jobs at Crytek USA), which is why the future remains uncertain for Darksiders
since an inconspicuous publisher called Nordic Games acquired the franchise.
But for now - out of an obligated sense of gaming evangelism - I would like to
tell you why DS2 was an indicator of the series riding on the undeniable path to
the near-perfect actualization of this franchise.
Developer: Vigil Games
Release Date (USA): 08/14/12
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
Reception: 82% (Metacritic score average)
games, it's not easy to compartmentalize DS2's gameplay. It's a conglomeration
of several genres and borrowed formulas that work together quite well. To start
out, the combat consists of hack-and-slashing reminiscent to God of War. And
from what I've played, it's more similar to its inspiration this time around.
Combat is more fluid, varied, quick, and intuitive in contrast to the slow
heavy hitting of War in DS1. Death is a lightweight with plenty of agility and
speed, which constitutes for a lot of fun combos and moves to pull off with his
scythes and new secondary weapons like hammers, maces, and claw-like weapons. War's
sword, Chaoseater, was practically the only weapon with a pivotal purpose in
combat for DS1 (besides a few weapons with very simple functions). The sequel
fixes this lacking area with a plethora of essential arms to choose from on a
frequent basis. There's even a surprising amount of varying designs for all the
weapons, and some of them even have origins to read about that tie into the
overarching history of Darksiders.
You can pimp out Death with some poppin' getups and rad bling...yeah.
Besides the hack-and-slash style
gameplay, the RPG elements of DS2 have been amped up a ton. Stats for almost
every kind of item and for Death himself are shown and can be upgraded in different
ways. The likely percentage of critical damage, item drops, and elemental
abilities can be viewed for weapons and Death has strength, defense, health,
and other stats. There are also all sorts of armor like boots, gloves, and
chest armor that affect the stats of Death in different ways. And since he
stockpiles on so much inventory, you can sell and buy anything as well to some
vendors. There's even a skill tree with several abilities that can be unlocked
with Skill Points from leveling up. These abilities were present in DS1, but
weren't as interesting or plentiful as they are in DS2.
Getting used to keeping track of the
health, arcane (ability energy), different enemy types, and possible combos and
abilities is a fun learning process that's easy to master and incredible to
watch on screen. This is especially true for the boss fights, which range in
scope and size throughout the game. One such boss is thousands upon thousands
of times larger than Death, and to be able to topple such an imposing villain
after figuring out his weaknesses is an absolute blast and spectacle to behold.
For you see, DS2 isn't necessarily a hard game. Even on one of the hardest
difficulties, it isn't too hard to conquer the most difficult bosses. And
although this is disappointing in some ways (I'm looking at the final boss
here), I can see that DS2 is more about the experience than about providing formidably
The enemies that Death encounters result in a slew of epic battles to remember.
There's also the platforming and
puzzle solving aspects of DS2 to take into consideration. As for the former,
when I mentioned Death's fluidity in combat earlier, this applies directly to
the platforming too. Vigil Games expanded the amount of ways that Death can
traverse throughout the world around him compared to his huskier brother. He
can flip over and drop onto ledges, run and jump along parallel walls, and
perform sequences of parkour-like stunts with surprising ease. The platforming
was decent in DS1, but it's a more integral, developed, and fun part of its
sequel. When it comes to the puzzle solving of it, DS2 expands on its
predecessor's puzzles with new and more advanced abilities and items to use.
"Constructs" are stone giants Death can ride on that provide ways of passage,
the Soul Splitter allows Death to make two copies of himself to access
impossible areas, "Interdiction" grants Death the ability to travel back in
time to affect the environment around him in the present, and so forth. The
puzzles can therefore be positively challenging at times, and although there
are a few puzzles in dungeons that are dragged on for needless amounts of time,
they are largely fun to solve.
As I said in the beginning, one
cannot simply describe the gameplay in a quick fashion. It's a mixed bag that -
put short and sweet - blends together to make DS2 a more unique game than its predecessor.
See that tiny person on that stone robot thing? That's Death having the best kind of rodeo.
travels to many exotic landscapes by finding his way through perilous dungeons
while battling a barrage of intimidating enemies. This means that there's a lot
of time spent taking in the world around Death with a steady influx of combat
scenarios to keep things exciting. Unlike fast-paced games such as Call of
Duty, it's natural to pay attention to and analyze smaller details in DS2 that
would otherwise be ignored. The sound effects are one such example, and they do
not disappoint. Death's footsteps vary in sound on different materials;
grotesque enemies' cries of battle and unique sounds (like the shambling of
skeletons' bones) can be easily distinguished; weapons make weighty, satisfying
sounds as they slice/sling through the air or into the ground, and environments
contain sounds that clash together like wind, lava, and streams of water. I
cannot efficiently describe sound effects through writing, but they are
important to mention as a pivotal part of the sound of any game. And for DS2,
they're just excellent.
The music in this game is more
important than it would normally be in any other game. Instead of specific
tracks for levels, DS2 relies on music as a constant ambience. There's only so
much that Jesper Kyd could do to keep the music from getting annoying, and he
surprisingly succeeds in avoiding this misfortune. I thought for sure in the
beginning that commonly occurring tracks would become boring after a while, but
they fit in so well with the atmosphere of the game that it never did. The Assassin's
Creed composer manages to pull this off with beautiful vocals and
eerie/gritty-sounding effects and instruments in his Celtic influenced songs.
It's an awesome soundtrack that plays a larger role in DS2 that I didn't
I don't know if it's just me, but I
think the voice acting in this game is absolutely awesome. It's pretty good in
the since of how it balances out between believable and badly acted, but that's
not the point. The voice actors for this game just sound incredible in and of
themselves. They also match up with their respective characters perfectly.
Death has a gravely, deep voice marked by sarcasm, bottled anger, and calm
collection (courtesy of Michael Wincott); the Makers (ancient giants that
formed many worlds with their craftsmanship) have booming, thick Irish accents,
and demons are characterized with horrifyingly dark voices with varying signs
of wear-and-tear. I could go on describing other voices, but I'd simply be
dragging this out; it's like you truly listen to ancient and powerful god-like
Death can actually question characters about other matters, which opens up for important, revealing conversations. But it's all up to you whether or not you want to hear them...
I've heard from several people that
the textures of DS2 are noticeably bad in many cases. However, I'm not sure if
I agree with this. Although there are occasional slowdowns of the frame rate
and loading times while playing, I find it hard to decide whether these
so-called bad textures are really there or if they're intrinsically part of the
art style. It gives everything a stylized, thick, comic book-like look. This
might not appeal to some, but I'm captivated by it (which is Joe Madureira's
work). There isn't a single room, item, or character that isn't detailed. In
fact, I'm extremely impressed by the amount of work that went into making the
environments of DS2. They're stunning to take in, which is especially true for
the insanely large vistas throughout the game. I had to stop and look around in
awe on a daily basis; the worlds in this game are bursting with vibrancy, mystical,
and otherworldly qualities. I truly feel like the architecture and landscapes are
one of the greatest parts of DS2. Death is on the journey of a lifetime, and
the things he traverses and sees along the way are just as satisfying as
playing the game due to their grandeur.
There are moments like this where you'll want to just stop and be amazed.
To make a quick synopsis, Death is
on a quest to avenge his brother, War, after he is convicted of starting a war
between Heaven and Hell on earth before the appointed time. As a result, all
humans are destroyed, Hell gains control over the earth, Heaven is in disarray,
and creation is in a state of imbalance and chaos. Death is also out to restore
humanity, but throughout his journey, his goals and motives will be prone to
clash with his friends, foes, and dark past.
I love the story and universe of
Darksiders as a whole, but I can't get over the fact that it was held back a
bit here. Although the lore of Darksiders is exponentially increased in many
ways by this game, the story's plot is linear and less impactful than the first
game's story. The primary reason for this is that the entire game is one big
treasure hunt. Each time I retrieve an item or artifact I need, I'm tasked with
finding another, then another, and so forth. This isn't an entirely bad thing,
but I would've enjoyed seeing some more variety in the types of objectives
throughout the story. This also affects the significance of the events that
occur in DS2. Although broad in scope and important for the universe of
Darksiders, hardly a scratch is made to further develop events or answer
burning questions from the first game. By the time DS2 ends, the story doesn't
reveal any secrets or plot twists, which has left me a bit unsatisfied and
wanting more from this anticlimax. Besides this, the story is still fun to
watch as Death grows as an amazing character while making his way through a
host of new locations while meeting new characters and learning about ancient
events; this add a lot of depth and meat to the established universe.
Although my overall point may sound
negative, the positive aspect overpowers it. The story stands pretty well on
its own by telling Death's tale (which is the primary goal of DS2's story), but
I expected many more connections and ties to the first game. There are a
couple...but only a couple.
Although shocking upon sight, War isn't who he appears to be in this fight...
Length and Replay Value
purchase a game that lasts for hours and hours without becoming stale, I know
that a developer has done something very right. This is the case with DS2, and
I'm very happy to report that it's a substantial and rewarding adventure.
Although DS1 was a 15-20 hour-long game, there wasn't a lot of side-content for
or reasons to come back to it. This is completely reversed for the sequel,
which contains a plethora of side-content that feels like a natural part of the
main story. What I mean by this is that the majority of the extra content
doesn't feel like it drags me out of the primary objectives to simply acquire
new gear or items. It allows for the exploration of surprisingly great dungeons
with some new characters to meet and story tidbits to uncover along the way. When
I saw places that were off the path, I always felt a pull of curiosity to check
them out...not knowing that I'd be taking several 1 hour-long detours! There's an
arena where Death can fight against waves of enemies to win prizes, mysterious
quests that span the entire world of DS2, and even more. My playthrough of the
game lasted for a whopping 30+ hours, and I was hardly at a lack for
entertainment. The length and replay value of DS2 is quite astounding and worth
every single penny.
not much to say about the DLC of DS2. There are three major offerings that have
new dungeons and bosses to defeat, but their high prices are a bit too
unjustifiable considering they last for a measly 1-2 hours each. If you're a
major fan of Darksiders, I recommend simply reading the story synopses of these
offerings off of the Internet or watching them on YouTube. However, if you were
to purchase one, I recommend Argul's Tomb. It has some excellent scenery and
one of the best boss fights in DS2.
Death contemplates on the overwhelming wealth of objectives at his discretion. What to do...
was an ambitious new IP that had a fantastic execution. Although some found it
to be unoriginal and lacking in ideas, I found it to be an excellent
conglomeration of famous inspirations with a wonderful story and vision that
had lots of potential. When I first read about DS2, I knew that it was going to
be an improvement in many areas, and I wasn't disappointed! The gameplay is one
of the most noticeable improvements with a much larger focus on RPG elements
and a tightening of the hack-and-slash and platforming. The music by Jesper Kyd
and voice acting are incredible, the graphics have an appealing style with
eye-popping vistas, and the length of the game is massive. While the story
isn't completely satisfying in its entirety, it does manage to greatly expand
on the universe of Darksiders in a positive way.
I don't know what Nordic Games will
be doing with this beloved series, but I hope it's in good hands. Vigil Games
has treated Darksiders with ardency for several years, which has been evident
in the amount of hard work and passion they've invested in it. Hopefully the recent
adoption of this franchise has arrived in the care of a publisher that will
treat it with the same respect. But for the sake of closing on DS2, I'll say
that it's a successful sequel in every sense of those words that deserves
praise. And if you haven't played it, I highly recommend doing so before Death
beckons at your door to claim you.
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