Developer: Vigil Games
ESRB Rating: Mature
The Horsemen of the Apocalypse assume different looks and identities. Of the four, one is feared the most, and his arrival is inevitable – he goes by Death. In Darksiders 2, the sequel to Vigil Games 2010 release Darksiders, Death is attempting to rescue his brother War, who has been wrongfully accused of jump-starting the Apocalypse. Darksiders 2 brings the series to a broader scale, combining elements of other games and genres. Does Darksiders 2 deliver where some felt the original fell short, or is it the touch of death for the series? Polish up your favorite skull mask: it’s time for the review.
He Has Many Names: Kin-Slayer, Executioner…Death
As mentioned, Death is the protagonist of the game, and he is in search of the Tree of Life to resurrect humanity and clear his brother’s name. Along the way, he must help other beings (such as The Bone King, The Makers, angels, demons,etc.) in order to get to the Tree. However, a dark force known as Corruption is imposing its will and taking over everything in its path.
Darksiders 2’s story progression is a bit slow at times. Death speaks with someone in the main area of the stage, they send him out to find three of something, and then he returns. During these missions, stages are paced very poorly, as they mix in combat, platforming, and puzzle solving elements; however, these different play-styles rarely meet. It starts off with exploring, gets into some combat, then platforming, then puzzle; next up, heavy combat, more platforming, puzzles, a mini-boss battle, and so on.
The cast in Darksiders 2 portrays the characters brilliantly, but at times, they can be a little over the top. Though the characters are given some depth with dialog options, few invoke a response to what happens to them in the story. They just aren’t involved enough with the story for any considerable length of time. As for Death, it doesn’t seem conceivable that he’s saving his brother out of love; rather, it seems like something he’s doing to keep the Order of the Horsemen intact.
Death Makes Us Die, But It Makes Gandalf’s Whites Whiter
Darksiders 2 combines elements of many different games types. The core gameplay involves a mix of platforming and hack-and-slash. The environment mixes wide-open sandbox games and dungeon-crawlers. RPG elements are thrown in for Death’s weapons and magic. However, the combat is the shining example of what makes the game fun. The scythes act as the primary weapons, utilizing quick, standard attacks. The secondary weapons can vary from claws, to giant hammers, to battle axes. These attacks are often more powerful than the scythes, but are slower to swing. The tertiary weapon is usually awarded by the leaders of each world, who send Death on his missions. This weapon isn’t so much of a weapon, as much as it is a tool that can be utilized as a weapon.
His name was Death…And Hades followed with him
Whereas combat shines, the controls in Darksiders 2 are a major hindrance to the gameplay. Combat is simple and easy to learn; however, during platforming sections, the controls have a tendency to become unresponsive. What’s more is that assigning powers in the quick select menu becomes inaccurate at times, which quickly becomes extremely frustrating. The other major problem is with the way some of the other functions are mapped out. The functions used for the shoulder buttons feel awkward and unnatural, requiring a player to slow down and think about which button they need to use.
Seriously, Why Does Death Need A Gun?
Roaming around the environments in Darksiders 2 take you to wide open fields, dark caverns, and the occasional industrial forging grounds, just to name a few. Each level is basically divided into smaller areas, similar to dungeon-crawling games, and is tied together by one central area. Every area transitions smoothly into the other, aesthetically speaking. At times, it’s easy to get lost, but Death’s companion, a scarecrow named Dust, will help the gamer find the way to the next locked door, or, at the very least, the general direction the player should be headed in.
Three Of Something…Its Always Three Of Something! Bureaucrats!
As mentioned, the combat in Darksiders 2 is a high point in the game. Enemies populate free roaming areas, but there are too few to feel like any major threat. The game would have benefited greatly from more enemies populating vacated areas, especially with the grand scale of the game. Speaking of the grand scale of Darksiders 2, the camera becomes problematic when the extremely large bosses get involved in the game. Also, since the game is paced terribly, problems start to arise when the game comes to a screeching halt to load the surrounding level, at times even freezing the game altogether.
At the end of the day, much like its predecessor, Darksiders 2 mixes in elements of other genres, but falls short of the goal of making a great game in and of itself. Combat is a great selling point for the game, as are the massive environments. The disposal of massive bosses is very satisfying, so for those that do love a third-person action adventure with a great combat system, rent the game first. The game does have a fairly lengthy campaign, so players will keep themselves busy for awhile. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough here to recommend buying the game, thanks, in large part, to the poor execution.
Final Verdict: Darksiders 2 gets 6 bone masks out of 10.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Darksiders 2 by Vigil Games, distributed by THQ.