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Death's Boring Embrace

The moment the original Darksiders concluded I was already anticipating the sequel. Thinking only great thoughts about how Vigil could expand upon its' mish-mash of tried and true concepts, I eagerly pre-paid and patiently waited this game to arrive. As it turns out, I waited for nothing. 

Instead of guiding this sequel from the closing credits of the first game and moving forward, Darksiders 2 actually turns back the clock and has Death attempting to find absolution for his brother while he is imprisoned. That may make you believe that there is a story to this game, but believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. There is absolutely no narrative in this game whatsoever. Darksiders 2 is nothing but people telling Death to run from point A to point B and back again while providing him nothing in return other to "go talk to this person because I really can't help you," type quests.  And then it's over. 

It might not sound like much, but not having a story truly does kill this game for me. Even after defeating the saddest excuse for an end boss ever, I gained nothing. There's barely an ending, but I guess I should have expected that having gotten nothing throughout the entire journey. Luckily the combat system is worth talking about. Whereas War was a straight up brawler type of character with a couple of handy special attacks, Death comes fully equipped with two separate skill trees full of varying special and magical attacks. Unleashing a murder of crows, initiating a devastating teleport slash or raising the dead from there graves to fight for you adds some much needed variety to combat. Add to this the new loot system which is filled with all sorts of armor pieces, quick and heavy attack weapons, and talismans and combat and exploration receive a welcome boon.  

Speaking of exploration, Death is quite the agile mover through environments. Running along walls and scaling and jumping over cliffs with ease makes for a much more fast paced game. One thing that did bother me was that there would be a couple of scenarios requiring Death to leap and bound up a vertical surface while a flaming spike trap would rise below him. In these, admittedly few, sections Death's over-zealous animations would sometimes make him move one way when I clearly had the analog stick facing another. Having to stop completely before changing direction during these parts caused me several infuriating deaths. Luckily I only recall two of these sections throughout the game, but they were quite maddening regardless. 

As fun as it can be to traverse the environments (especially in the expertly crafted dungeons, of which there are quite a few) the outside environments tend to be as exciting as the story. Sure you get some wide open plains and fields to run around in with your horse, Despair, but there really isn't anything compelling about them. Thankfully there is a fast travel system in place to help move you along through the worlds at a faster pace. 

Having the story run parallel with the original Darksiders was Vigil's biggest mistake. After playing through the game for only a couple of hours it started to sink in that I wasn't going to be in for the proverbial ride that I had hoped for. There are good ideas in this game for sure and combat can be quite invigorating, but when it feels as if it serves no real purpose then why should I even bother?  I eventually found myself bored with the entire undertaking and when your main character is the most feared horseman of them all you have truly dropped the ball. 

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