The year is 2010 the general population of America is going about their day, oblivious to the world’s problems as they chat with family and friends on mobile devices and think about the bad sushi they had for lunch. Breaking news hits on a screen high up on a building, showing an alert for meteor clusters hitting the earth. As one meteor hits the ground, emerging from the wreckage lumbers a hideous demon holding a battle-worn angel. As the demon throws the lifeless angel away like a ragdoll he is knocked off his feet by another meteor, enter our hero, “War”.
In Darksiders, you play as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and all around nice guy, War (voiced by Liam O’Brien). War has been accused of causing the start of the “End War” a battle between Heaven, Hell and the Kingdom of Man. He asks to be sent back to clear his name and find those responsible.
The game is a compilation of all the game-play you loved from other games, notably Zelda: Ocarina of time, God of War and Devil May Care, just to name a few. But don’t let this make you think the game is not worth your time, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It brings a familiarity to a new game, whether it be riding around on your flaming steed, “Ruin”, using small bursts of energy to make Ruin sprint for a short time, collecting orb shaped souls from chests around the map, or having to deal with the ramblings of an oh-so-helpful, “Watcher” (voiced by Mark Hamill), who is bound to your gauntlet.
The combat system is slow-paced and simple, learning skills by spending those tasty souls you gather while running around. As with most hack and slash games, it’s all about experimenting with combos and learning some fun tricks to get the one-up on the demons and angels that thirst for your head on a pike. Low health, one button kills are available, however, the time it takes to perform these visually appealing eviscerations does get on your nerves after ripping the wings off 20-30 mutated dragonflies trying to get some health back in a Boss fight. Boss fights were less than appealing while the bosses had some great mechanics, no real skill level increase came with any new challenge and generally left you wanting more or feeling like you hadn’t achieved much from the fight.
Rather than being stuck with only one sword, War has at his disposal up to three melee weapons and some ranged weapons to give the player something to mash some more combos together with and change things up. Maybe while swinging your sword around you’d like to finish them up with death’s scythe or fling a cross blade at that enemy far away. The great thing about the arsenal is that it’s totally customisable down to weapon upgrades and fit outs. If that isn’t enough, War also has four magic-based skills he can use to either augment his strength or maybe just impale a group of enemies in the area.
There were some lovely mind-bending, brain exercising puzzles to do along the way which mostly lead to a Boss fight after a tedious amount of time wondering what you did to deserve this punishment. In saying that, it was pleasantly complex and nothing compared to the Water Temple from Ocarina of Time.
Aesthetically the game was great, with a colourful cartoon style, great special effects ranging from the hazy shadow flight wings or the wisps of energy flying off War’s blade, “Chaoseater”, as he hacked, slashed and spun his way around the map. There was some frame rate drop and screen tearing but nothing that made the experience unbearable, and turned into a passing thought as you drove your blade through your next foe.
The open world map was amazing, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland you return to was both vast and awe-inspiring to experience. However, not all of the map is available at first, it unlocks over time with a lovely series of story based cinematics and certain items to get to new places.
Storytelling is amazing and the attention to detail on most things, flawless. Introducing biblical demons such as Samael, shining angels such as Abaddon, Uriel and Azrael. Cut scenes and cinematics were all visually appealing and the story told in each one didn’t leave any part of the story up to that point unanswered.
There is some comedy from the development team in the form of some main characters and even some side characters. One example would be “Wicked K”, a zombie in a top hat who you’ll find in random places around the map. An optional side quest is also something to pursue as you map you way around the open world, to find the “Abyssal Armor”. While this isn’t essential to complete the game it does create a fun side quest for players wanting to experience a little more content. Plus, it looks cool and actually does give you some bonus to armour and life steal.
Darksiders was a bit up in the air, however due to smooth game-play, amazing cinematics, great storytelling and the ability to go where you want and kill what you want, it made the cut. This game is great for both the casual and competitive gamer, or even just to sit back and waste 15+ hours to rack up those oh-so-important gamer points. A few upgrades to the combat systems and some more graphics choices would have been appealing, but that’s not what the game is about, it’s just one man against the world trying to prove his innocence. This kind of hack and slash only appears in a few titles these days and for that reason alone is worth the look. With the release of Darksiders 2, it does help to be caught up with the amazing story.
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