Monday, May 30, 2016


Vigil Games sure did their best to put the least possible effort into the PC port of Darksiders, which is a third person hack and slash game released in 2010. One should probably go into it with a controller ready in hand and just start playing. Well, after changing the resolution. But that is all the customization graphics-wise you are going to get from this title. At least I did not experience any major bugs or stability issues.

Biblical setting

Darksiders' universe is based on the same Christian/Jewish mythology as Diablo (especially the third one). Angels and demons wage eternal war while humans make up the third wheel. Likewise you also play a nephilim, War, who is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The horsemen's task is to make sure balance happens at the three kingdoms' final showdown but of course things do not go as planned.

The Charred Council that controls the four horsemen seems like an odd entity. They appear to be a group of talking dungeon heads from Aladdin. Are they based on something more than the game's writers' imagination? Who are they really, and how did they get into their position in the first place?

Hack 'n' slash with puzzles

The plot's exposition is heavily loaded towards the end of the game, however. Focus is not on the story but the gameplay. Which mainly consists of trying to get past all kinds of obstacles that block your way. While slaying a bunch of monsters too, of course, but the puzzles seemed to be what took most of my 19-hour playthrough. They are constant but luckily not too complicated.

There are all manner of different items and weapons that are required for these obstacles. You often pass places which you cannot yet access due to lacking the means. With the game lasting so long, it is rather easy to forget these locations you could return to, and it would probably take quite some time to scour clean every map after finally acquiring every tool. I missed at least some life shards and a whole bunch of weapon runes but I did find all 10 abyssal armor pieces to upgrade War's looks.

Darksiders has -- maybe even unnecessarily -- a large number of different attack moves available. One does not need to get or use them all, though. I mostly ignored the scythe and the gauntlet and focused on the sword. And I barely managed to cap its level even with having experience increasing runes for the majority of the game.

All right gameplay with some exceptions

Combat is enjoyable most of the time as getting staggered is not too common. And hacking monsters does not get old even though some of them take a bit more effort to slay. I played on easy as I thought it might make the game more fun by reducing possible frustration. I probably could have played on normal at least as the occasional annoyances were not caused by monsters difficulty rather than the controls. Which was every time I had to aim ranged attacks under pressure.

The most ridiculous occasion was the first worm fight for which I had to actually look up on the Internet what I was supposed to do. Apparently one has to ride away from the worm (hold left stick) while focusing on the worm (hold left trigger) and shoot at it (press right trigger) as well as dash away (press right shoulder button) when it gets too close. It probably would have taken quite awhile for me to figure out all of that on my own. The horse, Ruin, and riding it is pretty neat, though.

I think the camera is bit too close to the character as well and turns too slowly even after cranking up the sensitivity. Maybe the sliders do nothing. That would not surprise me. But in Blades of Time, for instance, constantly losing the sight of enemies was not a problem. I hope Darksiders II has its camera farther away.

Next stop: Darksiders II

I also wish that instead of Death, DS2's protagonist was the female horseman whose silhouette I noticed among the others (in this game's opening cinematic I think). She is evidently called Fury but unfortunately does not appear in the sequel even as an NPC. I wonder if Vigil Games originally intended to make a game for each of the horsemen. Darksiders' publisher, THQ, (and Vigil with it) going down sure did put a stop to that.

The IP was acquired by Nordic Games, however, so maybe another sequel is not out of the picture yet. I think that instead of continuing with the same formula, they could make Darksiders III have up to 4 player co-op with each of the horsemen being playable characters. I think that might be cool.

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