Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Genre: Adventure (Hack'n'slash style)
Developers: Vigil Games
Publishers: THQ
Released: 2010

Zolgar paid: $5.00
Beaten: No
Zolgar's rating: 8/10
Replayability: Decent

I avoided this game for a while, because I never touch games like this on the PC.. their control schemes are always so wonky that the enjoyment gained from slaughtering hordes of everything in sight is lost from fumbling around on the keyboard. Darksiders though, actually makes the keyboard and mouse controls work fairly well, pretty much as best as can be expected for a game of this style.

That being said, I wandered to my local evil soul sucking big box store that sells everything and purchased a 3rd party Xbox controller (because I was not about to pay $40 for a name brand!), with quite literally no setup beyond plugging it in (not even installing drivers because Windows recognized it), it worked with Darksiders, and has a much more sensible and usable control scheme.

This is a console port, after all. It was built for controllers, so if you have a 360 and have a wired controller for it, it'll make the game that much better. Non-360 game pads will probably work too, except you'll most likely need to set up keybinding.

If you've looked around you've probably seen various odd descriptions of Darksiders. One of my favorites is “God of War meets Zelda meets Portal.” I think that's giving it a little too much credit though.

This is a God of War style hack and slash adventure game, right up there with: God of War, Dante's Inferno, Drakengard, and many many others. Like most of it's modern-day competitors, it offers a basic “RPG” element (your character improves over time by way of gathering stuff and killing things), an assortment of weapons to use, and special 'finisher' moves which drop you in to a in-game cinematic for a unique kill for the monster type. That just means Darksiders lives up to it's Adventure genre tag.

But Darksiders also brings something else to the table. A fairly decent plot, now it's no JRPG with a long, drawn out intricate plot with all manner of character ties and.. blahblahblah. If I want that I'll read a book!

That looks heavy. Let me help you.. by smashing you in the face with it
You play War, one of the Four Horsemen (of the Apocalypse, of course), tricked by the forces of evil in to re-starting the war between Heaven and Hell before the time was right, allowing them to ravage the Earth, the forces of Hell eventually winning the day. While that whole epic battle is happening, unfortunately you're being judged by The Council, your bosses (their sole purpose is keeping order and balance), for jumping the gun and unleashing the war before it was time.

While you plead your case, that you were tricked, they heed not your words and sentence you to death. That's it, game over...
Don't believe me do you? Fine.
War makes a deal with the Council to send him down to Earth (stripped of his powers), to find those responsible and punish them. If he succeeds then he's able to more or less put things right, if he fails.. well, he was sentenced to death anyways.

So begins your quest! The plot doesn't sound like much, but there are a few unexpected twists. I don't like spoilers though.

Technically, gameplay begins before all that happens. You start out on Earth pre-cataclysm, and do all kinds of epic things (like turn in to a giant winged flame demon-thing) as a teaser for what the game will be like later, face off against the Destroyer, lose your powers, get your butt whooped, and then it going in to the story intro.

Then, you come back to Earth and find out that that 2 minute cinematic? Yeah, that was a century. Human kind is dead, and the world is a demon infested ruin now. On the positive side, that means you get to destroy things willynilly, and you also get an awesome post apocalyptic world to explore. Given the right tone, the world would be down right creepy, however they gave it good lighting and didn't give it all kinds of eerie music. This makes me happy because I don't like creepy games very often.

Andariel? No, she moved to the outskirts of Tristram, sorry.
You will explore ruined office buildings, broken freeways, crumbling subways, and so much more.. including a cathedral that has long since been desecrated by a demon queen. The Sisters of the Sightless Eye will be very pleased when you kill her. .. wait wrong game!

The amount of work they put in to the game world is also rather impressive. Dead bodies and burned out husks of cars litter the roads, shards of broken glass still hang in window frames. Pieces of rebar jut out of concrete, bent and jagged. Areas with high volcanic activity are covered with thick white ash the looks almost like snow. I could go on, but if you're as much of a fan of that kind of thing as I am, you'll want to spend a lot of time just exploring the world.

To some the world might appear a drab, lifeless world, myself though, I find it impressive that they were able to capture that so well for this game, because that's what it needs.

There's also a lot of destructible scenery (such as cars and light posts), much of which can be picked up and used as a weapon, as well as environmental pieces which can be destroyed by certain actions, though sometimes there's minor immersion breaking quirks in that. Like a place you push a statue down and it punches a hole in the ground for you.. there's no ground debris or remnant of the statue when you jump in the hole.

That's enough rambling about the world, I think.

So far as I've played, the puzzle element of the game remains fairly simple, and more about being aware of your surroundings, and how you can affect the environment. It does serve to keep your mind more active than killing a bajillion and a half demons.

Aside from world exploration and puzzle solving.. there's also a bit of combat. Really! I mean, you're playing War.. who would expect a guy like him to fight!?

Combat is standard fare. One button attacks, one button jumps etc. If you're on a keyboard, your mouse button is attack, mouse movement is camera look, WASD is move, and all your other commands needed are convenient to the mouse or the WASD keys. Sometimes there are just things that do not work well on the keyboard though (such as if you want to cast a spell while moving it requires holding down 2 keys and hitting a 3rd, not always easy.)
Whether keyboard or gamepad, you do run in to minor camera issues, but I've dealt with a lot worse, and I'm probably one of the pickiest people when it comes to cameras (I have actually walked away from a game just because of it's camera before).

L DL D DR R Punch. Aww, no Hadoken.
You also get an assortment of special moves, which also work as is expected. block+attack, double tap attack, jump+attack, jump+hold attack, jump up and down three times, turn in a circle while clucking like a chicken block and attack... you get the idea. As much as I love games like these, and I love the special moves, I personally always find it hard to remember how to do the really awesome ones in the thick of combat. Darksiders seems a little better than most for that though.

In addition, you also get a few spells, or sorry 'wrath abilities', which have an assortment of effects. I always forget about them, personally, though they're a lot easier to access with the controller, it just requires holding another button and popping up a menu and stuff. Clearly too much work when I could just be all slicey choppy with my giant sword.

Yuffie called... yeah, she wants her star back.
Throughout the game you will also find or earn special abilities and equipment, like a war-horn, a 'shuriken' and, shadow wings. These are often required to solve puzzles and progress, but sometimes they're also used in finding secret areas.

And of course, no game would be complete without a slew of items you really need to hunt down. These include, but are not limited to, health increase items, Wrath ('mana') increase items, armor sets, and trophies to sell to the vendor.

Yep, despite the fact that you're wanted by heaven and hell, and running around a world where everything is a denizen of one or the other.. there's still someone you can buy stuff from. In this instance it's a demon who fell out of favor with the Destroyer, and trades in souls. Thankfully everything you kill drops souls, so you can buy new spells, new moves, new weapons, etc.

Souls, in fact, come in three yummy flavors: Lime, Lemon and, Frost (you know that soft blue flavor that no one really knows what it is).
Green souls are health, collect them and be healed!
Yellow souls are Wrath, you use Wrath to cast spells!
Blue souls are money.. or apparently actually demon food, since the vendor seems to eat them. Oh well, who cares what he does with them as long as you get your new shiny! (Don't want to think about him buying artifacts...)

So far, the only thing I have really disliked about Darksiders, is the requisite flying level. I hope beyond hope that there is only one (I know there will be more though), because I suck at flying levels, hate them, and at least the first one in Darksiders sucks. There's not even an evasive dodge move. Had I been using keyboard and mouse when that came up, I would have flipped the game off and walked away from it.

Over all, it's a really fun game that actually does a good job of getting you hooked on more than just '20,000 more kills to the next achievement!'. So much so, in fact, that I got distracted playing it when I was gathering screenshots, thus contributing to a late upload. Would I pay $50 for it? No way, but I hate spending more than $30 for a game. Would I pay $20? Maybe. $10? Definitely! $5? A steal!


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