With the fall of the year, gamers around the world have been spoilt with some fantastic blockbuster hits. Most of these have been from sequels, outside of a few select games that came from seasoned game developers, that automatically get granted the hype and recognition a fresh IP needs to survive. When Darksiders became available for review I wearily took up the task, after all, Vigil Games have no history of outstanding games and I had seen very little of Darksiders outside of the advertising push on a select number of websites. Don’t make the same mistake, Darksiders deserves your attention.
Jumping right into the deep end I select the ‘apocalyptic’ difficult setting and submerge myself into hours of extensive action adventure. Following the heavily used formula found in similar games I am immediately thrown in with full strength, allowed to rip apart the enemies before me until an unfortunate incident strips me of my full strength. The introduction to the game is not the strongest, as whilst the combat is fast, the presentation is stellar and the story is certainly engaging – you get the impression that Darksiders is simply a mindless hack ‘em up when it very much is not. The game’s beauty becomes apparent upon being stripped of your full abilities that you journey to restore, along with many additional ones.
At this point it’s difficult not to throw in some comparisons, so difficult in fact that I won’t try to fight it. Zelda and Devil May Cry instantly come to mind; a combination which is enough to excite even the dullest gamer. The general style and design of the game is fitting of Devil May Cry, with souls reaped from fallen enemies, combo heavy hack and slash combat, and a dark and eerie theme that is reminiscent of Devil May Cry’s strong artistic flair. Backing this is a strong core mechanic that falls in line with Zelda in the way that each new segment of the game will introduce core abilities, such as a pistol, claw fist and grapple chain.
These core abilities will alter the gameplay outside of combat (and at some points inside) heavily and typically involve you playing in a different manner, keeping the game fresh at all times and always anticipating what the next upgrade will bring. By the close of the game you will have a large number of abilities that once combined, truly open up the game’s open world environment and allow you to explore areas previously not even considered. Impressively, all aspects of gameplay are intertwined with these new abilities too, so combat is never neglected as you will gain new attacks and new methods to manoeuvre in order to avoid attacks (a priority on the apocalyptic difficulty). The pinnacle of this is seen in the boss fights, which introduce some fantastic mechanics that inherit what you have learnt recently with sheer beauty.
As you progress through the game’s many varied environments, collecting strength and abilities, you will not be doing so for enjoyments sake alone as there is a far more important reason at hand. You are War; one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and your arrival on Earth wasn’t exactly going to be a welcome one. After what seems like an endless war between heaven and hell, a truce is formed and enforced by the Charred Council with use of the four horsemen. As humanity arrived on Earth it was decided that the truce will remain until a date in which seven sacred seals were to be broken, and at this time the apocalypse was to begin, allowing each side to fight for their supremacy. Somehow the apocalypse has begun prematurely, and taking the role of War you aim to discovery why and right all wrongs.
The story is told through short cutscenes which do a great job at bringing the many characters of the game to life, giving each one a strong personality that helps grow the story, resulting in a fantastic ending that leaves you wanting more. Thankfully for all the right reasons, and not the wrong ones, as the game will easily take twelve-plus hours to complete the core story, and additional hours for any of the side content available (I finished on sixteen hours, with around 90% completion).
The presentation of Darksiders holds up to the rest of the game, along with competing titles. There is certain design flair to be found throughout the game, with some beautiful environments and fantastic animations being the highlights. The most impressive aspect of the presentation is simply the flawlessness of it all. Everything from the models, to the environments, to the menus and user interface, is all of great quality and extremely fitting of the games theme. The audio once again is equally fantastic, with impressive voice work in particular for all characters. This goes hand-in-hand with the level of polish the game holds, giving a feeling that the developers were not rushing the product out of the door and instead spent time and attention to do it right from the start.
How shocked I was to find that the more hours I spent investing into Darksiders, the more rewarding it felt. Darksiders feels like a breath of fresh air, a step in the right direction and a reinvention of formulas that are sorely missed when used at this level of quality. If this is the first offering of Vigil Games, I highly anticipate their next and keep my fingers crossed for a sequel. Now all that is left is to hope that Darksiders achieves the sales it deserves, and does not suffer a silent death aside the ever loud sequel sales.