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Darksiders 2

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Darkisders 2 demands and tests the player’s patience. It’s game that doesn’t start off with a bang and it takes time to get the gears rolling but when it finally does, it offers one of the most thrilling and engaging action RPG experiences in recent memory.  Although a direct sequel, it’s not essential to have played the original since the plot runs parallel to it’s predecessor’s timeline and the game does a good job of bringing the player up to speed on the overall Darksiders storyline. Darskiders 2 could have been it’s own standalone title or the first game in the series and it would have still worked on almost all levels.

 

Death’s motivation, and his number one goal, is to redeem his brother War of a wrongly issued sentence of eternal suffering.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re accused of prematurely starting the Apocalypse that brings the end of days. That’s a pretty serious driving force and Death will stop at nothing to prevent that from happening. Let’s just say that Death has a reputation of being a bit irrational in his actions and playing through the game you understand why. Death will murder anything that gets in his way without a second thought. They either give him what he needs or they die. It’s really that black & white and while moral ground would be questioned with any other protagonist in any other game, this is Death we’re talking about. He’s the most feared of the four horsemen for a reason.

 

Be prepared for quite a bit of obscene violence, the likes of which we haven’t seen since God of War.  Unlike God of War, you can customize the violence to your particular taste. There are two skill trees with very different combat options. I chose the Necromancer tree, with an emphasis on spells like summoning of ghouls or a murder of crows to fight beside Death.  The other option is Harbinger with skills that cater to a melee heavy combat style.  Both are equally viable and fun options and again, which path you chose depends entirely on your combat preference. The talent system is definitely something I spent a lot of time configuring. Every time I leveled up and gained a Skill Point I would agonize over how I would spend it and I never felt like a wasted point. So choose carefully but if you feel like you made a mistake, you can respec easily at minimal cost.

 

The combat is an absolute blast. Especially when you get deeper in your chosen talent tree and utilize your new abilities.  When you finally master it, the combat has an almost Zen-like quality as you hack and slash through enemies with fluidity. The choice of weapons really adds to this empowerment. You have the option of going super heavy melee with options like a mace, axe, or sword that can be comically gargantuan but devastatingly deadly or go smaller with sharp fist weapons that can be just as potent.  It all depends on the player’s style and preference. I used both types of weapons at different times and found both to be very comparable to each other.  It’s not the weapon, but how you use it! There are an unbelievable amount of weapon choices. But the ones you want to keep an eye out for are the Possessed Weapons, which you can level up by feeding it lesser weapons or gear in your inventory.  Every time you level it up you get a significant stat boost to the weapon as well a new stat option. You can level it up a maximum of five times potentially making a maxed out Possessed Weapon the best option when dealing with tricky bosses.

 

The real challenge in Darksiders 2 isn’t the monsters or even the level bosses, in fact neither posed a serious obstacle to overcome. If anything, they were mere inconveniences as I faced the real challenges in the game, which were the puzzles and a large chunk of time is spent trying to solve them. As you progress through the game you enter dungeons with Zelda inspired design that you complete section by section until you get to the final room with the level boss. While not dismissible by any means, the level bosses are intimidating in size and frightening in design, Death becomes so overpowered towards the end of the game that they weren’t much of a challenge and even the final boss was a one shot. The meat of the game lies in the challenging puzzles.

The art design team at Vigil Games did an outstanding job with the overall art of the game. The overworld environments are exceptionally stunning and are dramatically different from realm to realm.  In one you’re up in the heavens and in another you’re deep in the bowels of earth.  Each realm is expertly designed down to minutia. However, the team takes a false step in the dungeon design. With a few exceptions it felt like most of the dungeons were an extension of each other with very little variance in between. They were monochromatic and repetitive. When so much time is spent in dungeons, it’s important to have quite a bit of variation to keep things fresh. Even now looking back, I visualize most of the dungeons as one massive meta dungeon. I would have loved to seen the design team incorporate more of the overworld to the overall dungeon design to distinguish them.

 

Darksiders 2 is a massive achievement for the team at Vigil Games. There were high expectations but the team managed to improve on its predecessor on every level. Sure it’s more of the same, but when that sameness is so thoroughly enjoyable, what does it matter? It’s refined and polished goodness. It’s also very purple. Seriously, I wont be able to look at the color purple without immediately thinking about Death.

 

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