War, what is he good for?
Okay, full disclosure: I’m a massive Darksiders fan. Since original development studio THQ closed I’d been desperate to see someone scoop up the property – and I’m thrilled Nordic did.
With the recent remaster of Darksiders II and now the original I can only hope the planned quadrilogy will see the light of day at some point, but for now I’m just stoked I get another chance to blaze through the first game in the series in all its high-def glory.
Darksiders starts at the end – of the world, that is. The apocalypse has been kickstarted early, and everyone’s blaming War, the first of the four horsemen, for pulling the trigger too soon. War has been set up, of course, and sets out to clear his name.
Getting to the bottom of this conspiracy sends War all around the tattered planet, collecting trinkets, felling bad guys and having a touching reunion with his hellhorse. There was enough motivation in the stellar gameplay loop to keep me playing that I didn’t mind so much about the so-so story, but the true standouts for me are some of the excellent characters that populate this world. Vulgrim is a bad ass, and War himself is a hoot to listen to most of the time.
This is thanks in no small part to some seriously excellent voice acting (with big names such as Mark Hamill and Troy Baker lending their pipes to the production)
When Darksiders first came out, I cited it as the best Zelda game since Majora’s Mask. Now, I was abusing hyperbole something awful back then, but there was a foundation of truth to my claims. Darksiders takes a solid formula laid out by Nintendo decades ago and warps it to fit its own twisted sensibilities in a fantastic way.
Over the fifteen hours or so the campaign demands of you, you’ll find yourself visiting dungeons, discovering new items and weapons, and using this new gear to solve puzzles. Hell, you even get what is essentially a portal gun later for use in Darksiders’ best dungeon.
The game is never coy about what it’s aping, but when the quality is as solid as it is here, it really doesn’t seem to matter. Even the combat feels like it’s been ripped from a similarly mythological game series, but its punchy and violent and visceral in the best possible way. For all its weight, however, the combat does feel a little shallow throughout the adventure, and devolves into button mashing feats of endurance at times.
For all the myriad inspirations Darksiders takes, it still, somehow, comes away with a personality all its own. Aside from a dull opening that sees you mashing buttons for half an hour until you get to the game proper, the title is a blast from delayed start to finish.
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