Developer: Vigil Games
Release Date: 1/5/2010
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The Good: Zelda style puzzles are fun to solve, looks great, decent story, fluid combat
The Bad: Zelda puzzles are too frequent, story is hard to follow, could have looked better, gets redundant after about three hours
Norse mythology. That’s what drew me to Darksiders, but don’t just jump into this thinking it’s a God of War clone. In fact its a mix of Zelda exploration and puzzle solving, and combat similar to God of War, but not as good or as epic. The story goes a little something along the lines of you playing as one of the four horsemen, War, who is chosen by the Council to find these broken seals and kill whoever did it to bring back Balance because the bad guys want all the realms aligned and made into one. The story is stretched thing between the long winded levels, and it never picks up until the last hour, but by then you have forgotten what has happened because there is little story between levels. It almost feels as if the story was an afterthought and Vigil just concentrated on the puzzles and combat.
That being said there is a lot of puzzle solving in this game; almost more so than any other I have played. The game takes a lot of ideas from other games such as God of War, Zelda, and even Portal and puts it to good use. While the game isn’t 100% original it does have is originality in certain areas. While starting with the combat its pretty simple. You start out with your Chaoseater sword which is mapped to the X button. Later on when you get the scythe you can map that and any other secondary weapon to Y, and your tools to RT. Combat moves can be purchased by using blue souls gained from killing enemies. There are power moves, and multiple combos you can pull off and its all fluid and fun to use so there’s no problem there.
You have a yellow Wrath meter which is War’s “special powers”, then you have have health shields which are bars of health. Some times when you weaken an enemy you can execute a kill move by pressing B (God of War anyone?), but no QTE (quick time events) are displayed. Instead you just watch War butcher the enemy. I love QTE’s and would rather participate in the killing than just watching, but some people may prefer this. You can also ride your horse, Ruin, through the last 3/4 of the game and swinging your blade while on him kill demolish enemies.
Now combat is neat and fluid I just wish there were QTE events and a more fixed cinematic camera, but after explaining the puzzle solving you’ll see why it’s a user controller camera. The puzzles are so frequent and so complicated that is drove me nuts. It was just puzzle, after puzzle, after puzzle and never ending. While this doesn’t ruin the game it just feels more and more like Zelda with every hour that passes. You have free roaming world that are broken down into sections that you can warp to. You have to find tools such as a grappling hook, Mask of Shadows (to see hidden objects), and a portal gun (yeah ripped straight from Portal, but its a gauntlet instead of a gun), as well as a glaive (Dark Sector maybe?). As you discover each tool you use them to solve puzzles accordingly. The portal gauntlet is probably the most unique. There are orange circles plates that you can attack portals to, and if any Portal fans are reading this you know what happens. However, there are a few unique touches such as in the Black Throne area (mostly puzzles and hardly any combat) where you guide a beam from across a level though different room and solving those puzzles to allow the beam through more rooms. Yeah its a bit in depth and complicated, and don’t fret because most puzzles are pretty easy to solve, but there were the few brain scratchers and resulted to a video walkthrough.
A lot of the puzzles are pretty unique, but there are a few things thrown into the game that will surprise you such as the ride on the dragon, and using heavy guns that enemies drop. There is even a pistol that you can use in the game, but it kind of useless except for the boss in The Ashlands level, but other than that the pistol was pretty useless. There are just a lot of unique puzzles in the game, and they are pretty fun, but the fact that there are so many make the game redundant, and that’s why it didn’t score as high as I wanted it to be. The combat is pretty repetitive and there’s nothing outrageous about the gore level, it’s actually pretty mild; its nothing close to the gore in God of War III. The kill animations are pretty repetitive since there is only once per enemy, and even the enemies are recycled. While there may be about 6 or so different enemy types; they are just recycled with different “costumes” and are more powerful as you progress through the game.
The boss are pretty epic, but they aren’t too hard to beat. They repeat the same pattern over and over, and even the last boss is a pushover after you learn the strategy. The graphics are actually pretty nice. The character details are excellent, but the environments tend to be lacking. There is a lot of aliasing (jaggies) and I know the game could just look a whole lot better. This is also a game for people who like collecting since there is hidden crap all over the game, but I tend to not go searching for this stuff, since I’m not good at it, but its there for Zelda fanatics to find.
Overall the game is worth a purchase, but people who want just the action should steer away since this game is very puzzle heavy, as in like Zelda type puzzles. The game gets very redundant after awhile, and only the hardcore will continue playing, but Zelda fans, and puzzle fans should check this out. You anywhere from 10-20 hours of gameplay depending on if you’re a completionist or not. There’s lots to love in this package, but a bit more flare would have been nice. Bottom line: This is an adventure game for men, not elves.