the Andrew Bailey


Do you have a game that you like playing it one hour, then despise it the next? And that's repeated ad nauseum? That's my general opinion on Darksiders. I'm cruising through it for a while, then a boss comes around, and I wipe about 10 times on it, making me want to stop playing. However, there's some addictive quality here that made me want to come back of my own accord. It wasn't just a desire to finish it, but curiosity to see what happened next.

Screenshot of Chaos Mode, where War transforms into a fiery demon.

You play as War, as in the horseman of. Somehow, Heaven and Hell started fighting over Earth, so humanity is screwed, but it wasn't supposed to happen yet. Since War is your name, you're framed, but you convince your superiors to find out what happened. They assign you a "watcher" (who is your sadistic assistant/babysitter), and head off.

Hack and slash combat is the mainstay of gameplay. It reminds me a lot of the Batman Arkham series, but I think that's me being unfamiliar with the genre. By comparison, combat is slightly worse, but aiming is much worse. You start with a sword, but collect other goodies every level or so. The controls are sometimes frustrating, particularly when you're shooting from horseback. Your view won't change as you ride around a large area without any target to focus/lock on. It feels like I'm pushing the reticule around with arrow keys instead of an analog stick.

Yes, like the Arkham games, I played through this with my Xbox 360 controller. I have both the original 2010 game and the Warmastered edition. Since I like playing games in their original form, I dutifully launched the original. As a member of the PC gaming master race, a dearth of graphical options (like changing the low 720p resolution) insulted me. Curious, I tried the Warmastered edition, and found it more to my liking.

It's clear that if you're playing this game for the story, you're doing it wrong. Sure, the story has vague religous references, but they're so weak that Halo preaches at you by comparison. The quests don't lead you anywhere interesting, and the characters don't draw me in. War is an emotionless brick, and almost everyone else comes off as a jerk. Your first lead sends you on a series of fetch quests that occupy about half of the game, after which I expect the dude to turn on me, because he's a demon. The next guy sends me on three more that last about the other half of the game.

Screenshot of a cutscene with a demon.

The art style is very fantasy gothic. War looks like he came out of a Final Fantasy game, complete with the pointy, oversized armor pieces and huge sword. It's like a 12-year old designed him. I like the sound design, particularly how it showcased my 7.1 surround setup. The game keeps the sound perspective on War instead of the camera at all times. This is noticeable during cutscenes to, for example, show a door slamming behind War, but the camera has panned away to look right at it. Since Darksiders is from the era where Nolan North starred in nearly every big videogame, I kept an ear out for him, but he isn't here.

Puzzles are usually easy enough to solve by looking at them for a bit, but I had to look up guides for a few things, and particularly the boss fights. The game itself poorly communicates strategies for some things. It's hard to know if you're making any progress sometimes. By the time I got past the four heart demon, I should have had the Abyssal Armor, but didn't. I didn't think of using guides until way later. When this game came out in 2010, portals were popular, so Darksiders has portals. Unlike the game of that name, you can shoot portals through other ones, but you can only place them on specific spots. While it signals that you solve this puzzle with portals, I can't help but think they were tacked on after the game started development.

I had fun with Darksiders, so I guess this means I like hack and slash now? This is a THQ game, and this was probably their best shot at success, but it didn't happen. When they went bankrupt, the important stuff went to Nordic games, who have continued this series. I have the sequel (and its Deathinitive Edition), and I'm looking forward to it.

Posted under Gaming. 0 complaints.