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Darksiders: Wrath of War Review

by William Schwartz

Make no mistakes about what Darksiders is, to many that haven’t played it Darksiders looks like a hack and slasher.  In the classic sense of the word, Darksiders is an action-adventure title.   These are two words that we just don’t utter enough these days: action, adventure.  This Darksiders adventure is an alternate take on the apocalypse in which it happens prematurely. The world is destroyed, and the main character, War, a member of The Four Horsemen finds himself in the middle of it all. War’s mission is to find out who is behind this premature extermination of mankind. The story encompasses demons from Hell, angels of Heaven, and a Council that governs The Horsemen. This Council creates a balance between Heaven and Hell, a balance that is broken when The Horsemen are fooled into destroying the kingdom of mankind.

What we loved about Darksiders

For the Artistic Darksiders is a brilliant game graphically. Not necessarily in the sense that it is technologically advanced, or is doing something that hasn’t been done before. Darksiders is just good art. No Frills, Cell Shading, or Gimmicks. The designers had the best quote as their inspiration was to make a living breathing comic book, and they did. Whether you attention is on the bigger than life bosses and characters spattered throughout the game, or the heavenly or hellish domains you will travel through, Darksiders is a beautiful game. Whether you are a fan of art or video game graphics in general, you will definitely appreciate Darksiders.

A Deep Power up and Upgrades Menu – The main character of the story loses his powers at the onset of the game.  This leaves War to be molded to your specific tastes, through the purchasing of weapons and upgraded attacks. There are plenty of power ups, weapons, and upgrades, to keep you hacking and slashing your way to more “souls”, which you collect by killing enemies. These souls are then traded with the merchant Vulgrim, a conniving demon that is always willing to trade if the price is right.

Puzzling – Darksiders has some puzzle elements that are actually quite tricky. This is something that I actually miss from games in general. Many games have been so dumbed down that most “puzzles” are solved by approaching something and pressing a button. I enjoyed the fact that Darksiders decided to throw in a few puzzles that leave you stumped for a few minutes, and then feeling stupid thereafter for not thinking of the solution sooner. While some are more difficult than others you can expect to find some good old fashioned dungeon mazes leading up to key battles with main characters. Pushing blocks, triggering doors, finding keys, the comparisons with the Zelda series do stem from these puzzle elements and rightfully so, but Zelda this is not. I best described to a friend having to get into Darksiders mode to actually play this game because if you aren’t keeping a watchful eye on the screen, you may miss key events that can give clues as to how to pass an area or boss.

What we hated about Darksiders

Some things Unnecessary – In a puzzle game, you have to think outside of the box,  if not, it becomes too easy to get stuck for hours trying to figure out what your next move should be. While I am all for challenge in a game, there were some areas of Darksiders where the only path out of an area was obscure. It didn’t help that War moves around like he stuck in quicksand. These obscurities made for a lot of exploration, making it necessary to be very thorough in an initial investigation of new areas.  These obscurities in the game seemed to prolong even the simplest of task, which led to a bit of frustration.

Glitches – Ok this was a big one for me. Unfortunately, I experienced this immediately after battling the second to last boss. I had to repeat a 10 minute long battle which I had already lost twice. In the video below you will see one of the glitches that plagued me throughout the game. A simple explanation is that the next area was not loading before my character entered into it, forcing me into this glitch, which makes you reload your save. The worst part about these two glitches is that they happen immediately after one another right before the final boss battle.  It is unknown if these glitches will be prevalent in all retail copies of the game or if I had a bad copy.  One thing is for sure…It soured my experience.

Maps – Basically useless was my impression throughout the entire game, other than navigating towards the general direction of an item, object, or event. In your menu screen you had the option to look at  both a world map and local map. The World Map was a drawing, while cool to look at, did little to help in navigating. The other, your local map was tiered in levels, and was left to imagination as to where you were, and how to get there. It was rather frustrating when trying to use the map, and it was necessary at certain points in the game.

Repetitive Combat – The combat was deep, sort of. There were a ton of upgradeable weapons and moves, but unfortunately it isn’t necessary to use them. You would be just as well off mashing the X button and dashing out of the way when in trouble. In games like this it is of absolute importance to make the weapons and upgrades that you include in the game, needed to finish some enemies. Sadly, Darksiders combat system is slow, and bogged down by many things that aren’t pertinent in achieving your goals.

Game ended with a hint at a sequel – I personally hate when game developers end a game with the  intention of pushing a sequel. No matter what game it is, I feel cheated. In this case I was just thankful that my character didn’t fall into another black hole. A minor annoyance really, but I was happy to be done with Darksiders when it was over. The story was fairly straight forward and I definitely wasn’t on the edge of my seat. With the final battle being fairly easy, it cheapened the experience of victory even further to get opened up for a Darksiders sequel.

The Verdict

Darksiders was a battle for me personally. Odd, I expected something completely different than what I experienced. Initially I was happy with the difference in what I expected from what I got. Yet, the bad outweighed the good in this adventure. Darksiders wasn’t bad but there were too many glitches, and moments of sheer frustration, to consider my time with Darksiders fun. It may be the glitches I encountered in the last few moments of game-play, but I prefer to think that was the seal of disapproval rather than the ultimate reason. Darksiders is a well thought out game, as many areas display a great attention to detail. Some of the puzzles were quite intricate and their design was top notch. It was a great first offering from the guys and gals at Vigil. Since they all but said “pre-order Darksiders 2” in the closing credits, I assume they will be looking at some of the faults in the game and fixing them when the other three horsemen have their days.

"meh"
meh

Darksiders

  • Available On: Xbox 360, PS3
  • Published By: THQ
  • Developed By: Vigil Games
  • Genre: Action-Adventure
  • US Release Date: January 2010
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "It was a great first offering from the guys and gals at Vigil. Since they all but said "pre-order Darksiders 2” in the closing credits, I assume they will be looking at some of the faults in the game and fixing them when the other three horsemen have their days."
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