The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Darksiders concludes with a hell of a tease. War, one of the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse, stands ready for action. “You will be
hunted,” angel Uriel warns. “The White City for certain…The Council…and
there will be others! You would wage this war alone?!” The rider calmly
turns to her, raises a fist, and says, “No. Not alone.” The camera pans
up and centers on three flaming objects rocketing toward Earth. War’s
fellow horsemen are coming to fight at his side. The screen fades to
black, and the wait for the sequel begins.Bury your
excitement for War uniting with his fellow Apocalyptans. Developer Vigil
Games instead takes us back in time to the beginning of Darksiders,
when War is accused of inciting a conflict between Heaven and Hell.
Rather than revisiting this scenario from his perspective again, we see
how these events affect his brother Death, the most feared Horsemen of
them all. Death’s story runs in parallel with War’s arc, set in
the 100-year span when War is imprisoned in the Charred Council. He is
questing to free his brother and save mankind from the apocalypse. His
goal is clearly defined, but Death’s journey quickly devolves into
multi-part fetch quests with little in terms of gripping narrative
progression. Because of the throwaway fiction, Death is a faceless lead
who spends most of his time excavating rare artifacts from dungeons. His
only significant story contribution comes when the final boss is
defeated after 20-plus hours of play.That doesn’t make him a bad
character. He may come across as an antique collector that specializes
in rare, oversized, magical keys in the story, but when he enters a
dungeon, his wide set of skills turn him into one of gaming’s most
Outfitted with a move set geared for speed, necromancy, and raw
power, Death is an efficient killing machine that lets players select
their means of evisceration. I gravitated toward his necromancy skill
tree, allowing him to summon ghouls to distract and attack enemies. As
they tear away flesh, Death can retreat to the battle’s perimeter to
call forth a murder of crows that further confound the enemy. Powers
like these are fun to use, and get even more potent as players improve
them through the skill tree.
Death’s close quarters approach is equally as exhilarating. His speed
– and the fact he carries two scythes – make him a more acrobatic
combatant than his brother. He darts between enemies with ease to
unleash combos that are so violent and lightning quick that the action
is often obscured by vast amounts of blood, magical effects, and blurred
movement. In some combat scenarios, this becomes so severe (and
awesome) that I lost track of Death completely. It’s a good problem to
run into.Switching between weapons mid-combo is seamless, and
the art of chaining together lengthy attacks relies on careful timing
for both weapon strikes and evasive rolls. Finishing moves are still a
part of the fray, but appear less frequently, and are now nice surprises
opposed to being the easiest way to drop a foe.Standard enemy
encounters are balanced well, putting players’ skills to the test in
most instances. Since Death is geared to handling multiple threats at
once, fights consisting of a singular boss are usually cakewalks.
Towering, Shadow of the Colossus-like titans fall after a few
undemanding scripted attacks. Even the last boss, who is hardly
mentioned in the story, falls like a mid-dungeon chump.The
addition of loot – a dizzying array of weapons and armor with different
damage, arcane, elemental, and bonus attributes – adds even more variety
to an already deep and satisfying combat system. The loot system is
beautifully implemented into both combat and questing. I explored every
nook and cranny in dungeons, and downed every foe I saw just to make
sure I wasn’t missing out on the chance of a rare possessed weapon
dropping. These weapons get stronger when you sacrifice other weapons to
power them up. Feeding weapons to weapons – how cool is that? All
possessed weapons have level caps. I wanted to use my possessed scythes
for the entirety of the game, but as I leveled, they no longer packed
the needed punch. Thankfully, I found another possessed weapon later on
that sliced and diced efficiently through the end game.Having an
expanding arsenal at your fingertips makes New Game Plus, the
Apocalyptic and Nightmare difficulty settings, and Crucible’s arena
challenges more appealing and approachable.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.