When 'Darksiders' came out last year I completely ignored it (probably because it came out so close to 'Mass Effect 2'). However, now that "The Year of Mass Effect 2" is over (and I was looking for something to play) I went back and checked it out. What do I think of it? Read on, loyal readers. Read on...
Darksiders: (PlayStation 3. OnLive, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Microsoft Windows)
Developer: Vigil Games
Released: January 5, 2010
MSRP: $59.99 (though you can get it new
from Amazon for less than $20 now: [link]
Plot: After being tricked into breaking the eternal laws, and causing the end of the world to come far too early, the horseman War finds himself at odds with both the forces of heaven and hell. The game follows his story as he fights across the destroyed civilizations and wildernesses of Earth, hunted by vengeful angels and gleeful demons alike, as he searches for the one who fooled him into fulfilling his purpose too soon, and unsettling the order of existence. The game's graphic-novel inspired art style was directed by Marvel Comics illustrator Joe "Mad" Madureira. Characters are performed by veteran voice actors, including Liam O'Brien as War, Mark Hamill as The Watcher and Phil Lamarr as Vulgrim. Source
This game is freakin' amazing
. (I feel so silly for completely disregarding it last year. *hangs head in shame*)
The first thing that hits you is the artistic style. The character designs were done by the legendary Joe Mad... and it shows. It's like someone sprinkled magic over his drawings and they came to life. As a long time fan of Madureira, this was really cool to see. Some may not like it (many think the characters are overly detailed: too much armor, etc) but I think the aesthetic works well with the style of the game.
What I love most about the game is the environments. Wow
this is how you do it. The game is SO HUGE and it's literally fun to explore. I love playing a game that rewards exploration and this game does that really well. There are nooks and crannies of hidden treasures all over the place and greatly reward you finding them. I'd often find the right way to go
and then go completely in the opposite direction (and usually find awesome stuff hidden behind a ledge, under a rock, behind a tree, etc). It makes the game feel huge and alive. It also feeds the feedback loop of "I wonder what else is out there for me to find? Let me keep playing to see." ^_^
Not only does it have awesome environments (rich colors with a 'larger than life' design sense) the game does a really nice job showing it off. There is a video game term called 'vista' in which you (as the player) have a "Wow!" moment as you exit a confined area (like a hallway) and are greeted by a huge panoramic view of the next environment. This serves two purposes: 1.) Practically, it shows the player where to go next and 2.) Done well, the 'reveal' can be quite an emotional and exciting experience. Darksiders does this *all the time*. I was perpetually impressed by the level design and had to hand it to Vigil Games (who did an amazing job with their first(!) game).
The gameplay is also satisfying (falling into three main groups): Combat, Exploration and Puzzles. Now, many have compared this game to Zelda in its structure. I agree
but that's a bit of an over-simplification. It's more of an homage to a lot of great games, including 'God of War', 'Zelda', (shoot...even 'Portal' is in there >_<). Penny Arcade summed this up nicely: [link]
, cutting monsters up in a glorious display of badassery never got old.
There are a few problems, though. The first boss Tiamat (see here: [link]
) took me quite a while to beat since I had to get used to the control scheme. (At first I thought the controls were overly complicated and unintuitive, but after a while I got used to them and didn't have any problems for the rest of the game.) There were also a few technical glitches. I got stuck in the environment twice (and thus had to reload the last checkpoint). While annoying, the checkpoints were so close it really didn't matter. Also, screen-tearing/frame rate issues popped up now and again (although they were few and far between).
Also (and this is an interesting one) this isn't a game that can be rushed through (it took me 20 hours, much of which was exploration and puzzle-solving). It's huge, deliberate and expansive. There are a lot of "You have to do this before you can do that" kind of set-ups in the game. Some reviewers found that annoying, but I rather liked it. I guess it depends on what kind of gamer you are.
Overall, Darksiders is a fantastic action game with an interesting story and unique visuals. The gameplay (while unoriginal) is still lots of fun. There are a few technical hang-ups, but nothing detrimental to the game at large. If you're a fan of action games (even casually) I definitely recommend checking this one out.
Final verdict: A
What do YOU think? Have you played it? Let me know!!
That's all for now, y'all. Much love! Talk to you soon!
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