So I just finished Darksiders 1 and boy was it an experience. It’s been ages since I had played a classic hack and slash game like this. And this game really reminds you of how there aren’t really that many similar games in the AAA game industry today. I guess I’ll make this one a legit review instead of rambling on and on. Basic information about my playthrough, I played the game on the highest difficulty (Apocalyptic) and the game tells me I took 16 hours to complete with pretty much all of the in game collectibles (I did miss a couple of them, since Steam decided that it won’t grant me the achievements and I was like what’s even the point)
2. Story and related stuff
I did not think going into this game that there would be a good story, I thought it would just be filled with events that are there to give us motivation to kill more things, while that actually does happen there’s a certain umm… charm to it which makes it endearing. The game borrows heavily from mythological stories (which is something I like very much) with the basis of the game centered around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, except that the Apocalypse is the Council and they serve the purpose of keeping balance between the three kingdoms in the universe, Heaven, Hell and the Kingdom of Man. During events at the beginning of the game, because of the interference of War (us), the Kingdom of Man is destroyed by the aptly named Destroyer, leading to a universe-scale battle between Heaven and Hell (I’m still not spoiling everything, just because). The Council sends us, War, to go and repay these debts and just so we don’t go off the control of the Council we are assigned a Watcher (black dementor thing) voiced by a certain Jedi lord called Luke Skywalker. This was a great opportunity to show how the relation between these two progressed, while they did do some of that, not much happened I guess that’s consistent considering that the Watcher is that obedient to the Council. He did a great job at being a dick and Mark Hamill’s voice acting definitely helped that a lot (in the beginning though I just thought of the character as trying to be a Joker wannabe). There is also an option to bring out the Watcher any time in game, I thought he would serve as a waypoint indicator (which would’ve been way worse) but here he just says generic lines about killing someone or something like that, more could’ve been done. None of the other voice actors apart from Vulgrim (the game merchant of sorts) stood out to me. The game takes place in the destroyed human world which leads to lots of creative map design and locations involving all three kingdoms. The world was built really well in my opinion, each boss and the associated region got its own cutscene giving basic exposition. While there’s no great storytelling here, its fun to go on this adventure and killing lots of mythical stuff. I did think that the game was really padding for time with segments like the cursed demon stuff where you have to repeatedly kill waves of enemies in literally the same dungeon with the same cutscene in order to clear the path. I did not find there to be any plotholes (atleast not any which took away from enjoying the game) and all characters felt unique. I do believe more could’ve been done with the Chosen (who are the underlings of the Destroyer, btw can we talk about how terrible of a name “The Destroyer” is, why couldn’t it have been something else), especially Straga considering we had past history with him. Once the initial game world-setting is over, the game plot takes a backseat as it mostly just involves killing these Chosen and just enjoying the gameplay. However the last act of the game, damn, I did not expect those twists to happen. The ending was really well executed and it set up the sequel perfectly. War didn’t show much emotion which I suppose fits with his character and even by the end he didn’t progress as a character, but he remained a honorable person that just wanted revenge, which is fine for a game like this, also I must add that his voice actor didn’t click with me at all, it felt like he was always grinding his teeth and holding back words to sound tough. I’ll talk more about the boss fights in the next section and btw my favourite region in the game was the Ashlands simply because of how unique it was to have such an open expansive level in this game.
3.1 Gameplay - Combat
The gameplay was a lot of fun. The world is hmm I would say semi open-world? It consists of separate regions (think Dark Souls style) and you can backtrack to previously explored regions (kinda like Dark Souls) and most regions have a Vulgrim portal (exactly like Bonfires), where you can purchase various upgrades. Later on in the game, you will unlock the ability to use the Vulgrim portals as fast travel locations (thereby upgrading Dark Souls 1 bonfire to Dark Souls 2 bonfire, alright enough overexaggerating the Dark Soul-ness of this game, tbh its nothing like that). For combat you got the Chaoseater sword at the start after which you could buy a Scythe (with nice purple aesthetics) from Vulgrim, then you’ll get the Tremor Gauntlet which is more of a puzzle solver than combat weapon but still you could use it for smaller hordes of enemies. There’s also the Abyssal Chain for pulling yourself to enemies but as with the Gauntlet its more for solving puzzles. Each weapon has its own set of combos (apart from the chain ofcourse) which you can use and more can be bought from Vulgrim. While its fun to mow down lots of enemies, the game combat really shines through in 1v1 combat as you can experiment with all the different combos and wrath powers. So about the wrath stuff, these are basically like magic attacks that you can use, there’s 4 of them. You’ll get Blade Geyser by default and you can buy the other three. Using these attacks requires wrath (mana basically) and that’s cool stuff. I didn’t really seem to be using much of these wrath powers apart from Blade Geyser and occasionally the death curse one (forgot its name) because it looked cool to curse a huge enemy and see their armour ripped to shreds from the inside (haha). You can also level up the wrath powers as well as the combat moves from Vulgrim which adds the need to hunt for souls which is the currency used for buying these upgrades, I like how they tried to explain why souls are the currency, basically, Vulgrim is a demon that feeds on souls but he’s not gonna risk his life for it, so he tells us that he’ll give us special items in exchange for souls that we get from all the stuff we kill. Then there’s the Chaos Form which is like the ultimate super killing machine ability. You’ll get this ability after progressing a bit in the story and it requires Chaos (mana 2.0) which you get from killing enemies I guess (I honestly don’t know as it just filled up by itself), this is such a powerful ability that it can easily annihilate most of the enemies in about 4-5 hits (apart from bosses or enemies that require a bit of puzzling around). While this might be way too OP the game does a good job at balancing the rate at which you can activate this mode, making it like your super ultimate move reserved for situations where there might be multiple waves of really tough enemies being thrown at you (which surprisingly is very rare). The final combat related element are the enhancements (I didn’t collect all of them, but I got the more important ones I suppose), these are as the name suggests enhancements that boost one stat (normal enhancements) or multiple stats (legendary enhancements) like Fury’s Embrace which gets you wrath on every strike landed and also reveals all collectibles on the map. This stuff adds an extra layer of customization which you can tinker around with, there’s also one that deals elemental damage and stuff like that. The enemies themselves are designed well although there’s a lot of reusing going on, with little changes here and there, while it makes sense that these are just part of the kingdom of Hell so they should look similar the repetition was a bit too much I would say. The enemy attacks are telegraphed really well (including bosses), so no fight feels like its unfair (I mean I did play it at the highest difficulty and still it was a fun but challenging experience) except for moments where you require targeting and the camera does a good job of not letting you see who else might attack you but still that’s getting too nitpicky, it was a solid experience. So that’s all about the combat, let’s move onto the second gameplay aspect which is the puzzle platforming.
3.2 Gameplay - Puzzling & Platforming
The puzzle difficulty ranges from stupidly easy to moderately difficult, most of them could be solved after just staring pointlessly into the screen and finally getting that sweet eureka moment. However, there were a couple that really annoyed me so I just looked up the first couple of steps online because there really was no clue for me to go forward on. There’s loads of stuff you’ll get like the Chain and Gauntlet I mentioned above that you will have to use to solve these puzzles. It was really fun to see how the same locations connected to various other places depending on whether you had the next puzzle weapon or not. An annoying thing I noticed however was that during the platforming sections sometimes the camera could f*** up real bad and you would end up jumping in the wrong direction or just not able to grab that ledge or stuff like that and fall to your death. A “WTF haha” moment happened when I got the Voidwalker ability, you know what this ability is???? It’s the freaking Portal gun from Portal! That really was a funny moment, although I don’t really mind the copying and stuff as I think it was appropriately used in the puzzles and added another dimension to it all so that’s all cool.
3.3 Gameplay - Collectibles
Moving onto the collectibles, apart from the artifacts the others can’t just be called collectibles as they do provide gameplay advantages. Collectibles include Lifestone shards which increases health, Wrath shards which increases your wrath and 10 Abyssal Armour pieces which you can collect to get the armour which looks really cool (very important) and increases your damage resistance. There are three classes of the aforementioned artifact collectibles which you can give to Vulgrim to get souls, upon completing each set you’ll get Lifestone or Wrath shards. The enhancements I mentioned earlier can also be called as collectibles I suppose. Some of these collectibles are very easy to find and you’ll get some as part of the story but there are others that are really tough to find and hidden in really cool ways in cool places, this makes revisiting an older region that much more worthwhile as you’ll find points where your newly acquired equipment will work. After getting Fury’s Embrace or Hoardseeker, you can get a general estimate of where the chests are but its upto you to figure out how to get to it. The game rewards exploration and even if you don’t get a collectible they’ll make sure that you atleast get some souls out of it. Another really, really cool thing I found upon revisiting the regions was that there was a secret mini boss (really funny dude, definitely gotta meet him atleast once and he’s British as well!), he shows up in 4 different places and drops lots of souls upon being defeated, he definitely didn’t fit the tone of the game but it was a whole lotta fun and shows how much fun the devs themselves had while making this game.
3.4 - Boss Fights
The boss fights in this game were really trying to be like God of War and I did think a couple of them were good, however they were really repetitive like most boss fights just have one pattern, find a special weak point, attack it, then wait till boss goes through invulnerable stage and then repeat this cycle until you get that circle prompt to trigger the end cutscene. While the gimmicks are interesting at the start of the battle it just becomes a drag by the end. I really would’ve liked if there were multi-phase bosses or if they atleast switched up their moves every once in a while. The Straga boss fight was a really big waste as that whole revenge plotline was just wasted with this repetitive hack and slashing. The Stygian boss fight has got to be my favourite simply because of how cinematic it all looked, oh btw I just realized I forgot to talk about Ruin (War’s horse), while he is only useful in the Ashlands region (which has the Stygian boss fight) it was fun nonetheless. The final boss fight with the Destroyer was quite alright as well but still lacking when compared to other games. That should wrap up the gameplay stuff.
4. Other Stuff???
The graphics and art... while initially it didn’t really get with me, I started to appreciate it more and more as the game progressed and new regions were revealed. All characters (including bosses) are designed really well and make them stand out from generic bad guy or generic good guy. Oh wow, I guess I just don’t have much to say about the art. It looked good. Done.
The music of the game, hmm, while it didn’t stand out for most of the game, it did its part and helped make the game not feel empty. However, by the third act (where all the final pieces are set into place) the music comes out and definitely made it much better, so yeah that was good. I didn’t really care for sound design so that’s that.
Well finally onto the conclusion, Darksiders is a game that is very rarely seen in today’s industry (astute observation indeed) and I know the third part just released but looking at the reviews I can see that its difficult for the publishers to believe in a game like this and give it the proper budget. This game should become a classic imo. And it was a load of fun. I’ll get around to playing the second one after trying out something from a different genre. I hope the third part sells well and they can make a 4th game where all the Avengers unite to defeat the really big, bad guys.
Rating : I’ll give this one a solid 8/10
Final Word : WARMASTERED
(BTW I just realized I rambled through the entire review, ah fook it I don’t want to erase all this stuff)
(BTW BTW should I add more images and stuff to prevent burning of your eyes with this wall of text?)