Game play - 8.4
Presentation - 10
Story / Creativity - 7.4
Lifespan - 8
While the story can sometimes waver and feel like it is keeping too much to itself, the gameplay and pure beauty of its art design make up for this easily. If you are looking for a journey through the eyes of one of our world’s most fearsome biblical myths then this is one trip definately worth taking.
It is not every day that a comic book artist gets to see his creations come to life. Luckily for Joe Madureira, THQ gave him full reign on what is now seen as the visual bible of Joe’s imagination. The question, is can Darksiders lay the foundations to yet another potential mainstream franchise.
After massive hype that the end of the world was coming in our near future, humanity ultimately get what they asked for as the burning inferno of the apocalypse shatters the Earth as seen in the opening cutscene to Darksiders. You play as War, one of the four legendary horseman who is set to bring the end of worlds once the proclaimed Seven Seals of Balance are broken.
The story sets the stage in this epic tale of redemption as War arrives on Earth to dish out justice on Heaven and Hell alike until he notices something odd. Not only are his brothers and sister not present in the on-going battle but it is also revealed that the mentioned Seven Seals have not being broken. With only War to blame, the council decides to exile our hero as he demands to clear his name and uncover the Judas that has cause this great catastrophe.
The whole ordeal is incredibly comic book 1:1 and while slightly predictable, it stills finds ways to surprise you in its wide range of characters that it continuously likes to introduce after the constant in-betweens of lacking plot development in between boss encounters. War’s story therefore becomes a tad paper thin for the first half of the game and players shouldn’t expect too much in terms of character development in our main man War either.
The game is always hinting at something greater and ultimately you will find that the whole premise feels more like the pilot of a TV show that hopes to get picked up. It doesn’t want to give you too much and because of this you will be walking around most of the game wondering who these characters you meet are and why they all know each other.
It is an obvious ploy to cover more story archs in future games, but for something as big as the Apocalypse you would expect there to be a lot of ground to cover in a 12 hour game. Instead we are forced to see War play the generic errand boy like in most games. Though because of his predicament I guess you could call it justifiable. It just seems a little odd to see the character so reserved with his life on the line, especially seeing as his life is on the line.
That doesn’t mean the plot is a bad one though. War and his supporting cast easily make up for the empty stretched out conspiracy presented in the story and you will find yourself looking forward to seeing a lot of the other characters that you come across. The characters themselves are all excellently voiced with talent like anime’s rock star Liam O’brian as War and underdog legend Vernon Wells as the prince of hell ‘Samael’.
It is clear that Vigil Games wanted to make a love letter to games that have come before their own. Darksiders sports a number of influences from classic critically acclaimed titles that ultimately place it in the genre of hybrid. With a vast selection of dungeon like environments and equipment based puzzles, it is hard to deny its first half of inspiration from the popular Zelda series. Even War’s equipment borrows from some of the popular tools that mute Link had to use in his own adventures. What you get though is a perfectly fine tuned puzzle/ platform experience that not only feels right in the world you are playing in, but also shows a sense of honour towards the games it is obviously looking up to.
The combat side of the plate plays out like your standard modern day hack and slash. War sports a number of unique and devastating combos that can be purchased from a demonic vendor but players who find themselves forgetting to pump currency into additional moves might find the combat repetitive because of the standard single button mash affair that is given from the get go. The game also gives players a useful dodge ability, so those wanting to focus more on weapon upgrades are more than welcome to by knowing that not purchasing the sack of useful combos won’t put an obstacle in their choice of play style. Meaning that the set of skills you initial receive can carry you to the end game. One thing I found that is a massive shame is that certain weapons you acquire will become useless rather fast. One weapon that has been advertised a lot is the quad barrel revolver that War receives part way through the game. The gun itself is really cool looking but surprisingly weak. I found myself wanting to find a reason to use it but when you have a big sword that can dice a foe up in five seconds; you kind of know what you are going to stick with. Additional combat features involve other borrowed concepts like basic quick time events and finishing moves.
I have to tip my hat to Vigil Games for their animation work here, especially on those finishing moves I mentioned. Even though each enemy has only one to two finishing moves that can be used on each of them, the sight of seeing War use such fluidity and grace when lopping off his victims limbs and using their weapons to direct the finishing blow is always as epic as the last time you did it. My only negative experience with how the game plays is in its jumping mechanic. I found that it was rather delayed at times after pressing the jump button and it would sometimes lead me to fall to my undeserving death or back to the lower floors of an area that forced me to climb all the way back to the top.
Visually Darksiders is a comic book fan’s wet dream. The world in which War and his story takes place in drips with lead artist Joe Maduriera’s incredible eye for creativity. Everything from the main characters to the enemies themselves could all have been pitched to have their own graphic novel or game. The sheer amount of love and attention put into this universe is truly awe inspiring and the variety in aesthetic style of these inhabitants and their surrounding environments is a true treat to experience. What you see in this game is the pinnacle of video game art design and if you are an aspiring video game developer yourself, then Darksiders is definitely a dish of inspiration that you should turn to first.
For more information, click here.