Producer: Vigil Games, THQ
Release Date: January 5, 2010
Platform: Xbox360
Rating: Mature
Genre: 3D Action

4 stars


Embracing The Darkside...
(One Demon At A Time)

Written by William Nadel

Steeped in comic book and religious lore, Darksiders attempts to tackle an action/adventure story of epic proportions. Masked by a thin veil of button mashing stereotype, Darksiders presents a deep and more complex gaming experience than I had anticipated. The story follows none other than War, one of the infamous Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. He has been stripped away of all his unnatural powers and must fight to regain his Badassity while attempting to restore the Balance. You see, there are certain entities that would like nothing more than to initiate the war between Heaven, Hell, and Humans. The rub is in the fact that the humans have not yet spiritually progressed to the point where they would have any chance of defending themselves and this insufficiency will shift the balance of war unto the side of Hell… Apparently this is some important sh*t. The story unfolds through many highly detailed and interesting cutscenes that transition into the live action in a way that brings you into the world convincingly.

Since War has lost his powers, the beginning of the game starts off as a somewhat generic beat-em-up. You jump, you swing your sword, you hit some guys, and you move some blocks. Suspicion was rising. However, as the game progresses and War earns better weapons and moves (such as the grappling hook and portal creation abilities), the complexity of the gameplay and fighting mechanics becomes evident. Every enemy has a disgustingly awesome death animation, perpetrated by our hero. Every enemy and environmental object can release soul energy when it is destroyed. Soul energy is the game’s currency, which is used to buy upgraded weapons and abilites. I found it odd that inanimate objects such as cars and wooden boxes would give you soul energy when smashed, but that’s one of the genre traps this game falls into throughout the course of the journey.

The game mixes God of War flavored action with strong influences from games like Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry, and the recent Zelda ventures. I understand that developers feel games in this genre should include puzzle elements to lengthen and vary the gameplay, but how many times and in how many games do I want to move mirrors and blocks around to progress to the next awesome action sequence? They could use that disc space for more exciting nuggets like the various fight arenas laced throughout the game. As the game progresses, these busy work puzzles become more and more complicated. These are not the type of puzzles I want to tackle at 3 am, on the tail end of a marathon game session. This problem is exacerbated by a completely useless hint and waypoint system. With all the backtracking I had to do while solving these puzzles, the least they could have done was tell me the direction I was supposed to be heading.

The game should stick to what it does best: Truly exciting and engaging Boss Battles. There are some incredible boss encounters with beasts of legend towering stories high. The game would be all the better if the developers hadn’t overlooked the serious potential they had to create an amazing co-op experience. This game is strictly single player and there is no way to share the experience with a friend. Multiplayer expansion??

Pipe dreams, yes, but allow me my dreams. The graphics, environment, and sound design are impeccable. Besides the random strewing of cars in unlikely places, I was very impressed with the artistic flair of the game. In many instances during my playthrough, I found myself commenting aloud with descriptive words such as “sick” and “quality” as though I was the star of some stoner flick gone awry. If you are bored with platforming, puzzle crunching, and beat-em-ups in general, look elsewhere for your fix. If you enjoy mind bending puzzles, sadistic action gameplay, solid boss battles, and endless gory combos with grizzly finishers, you are going to want this game. Vigil’s creativity shines through enough to warrant your immediate attention.

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