And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts,
And I looked and behold: a pale horse.
And his name, that sat on him, was Death.
And Hell followed with him.
It’s amazing what we will do for others, especially when that person is your brother. No one can truly ever say that Death has sympathy for anyone. But when that one person is his brother, even Death will go to almost the furthest lengths to help. Vigil Games and THQ have released the follow up to the highly enjoyable and successful Darksiders with Darksiders II. With many people comparing the first entry to the likes of great series such as The Legend of Zelda and others, does this sequel stand a chance in hell of being just as enjoyable as its first part?
Darksiders II runs parallel to the story set in the original set during the 100 year banishment of the first game. After hearing that his brother War has been accused by the Charred Council of prematurely starting Armageddon, fellow Horseman of the Apocalypse, Death, has set out to redeem his brother and prove that he is innocent of the accusations against him. Along the way you will delve deeper into the story of what happened in the original game, meet a few returning characters, learn how exactly how the Horsemen were chosen for their roles and see that even Death will have to come face to face with demons he thought long gone.
If you haven’t guessed by now or have seen gameplay yet, Darksiders II is primarily a hack-and-slash game. A majority of the game will be spent fighting enemies, platforming and running from obstacles to obstacles and discovering new areas and lands. In this game in particular, the platforming and wall running parts of the game reminded me of playing the Prince of Persia series more than anything. You will also travel meeting allies and different characters to completing tasks in dungeons and so forth with a majority of them being fetch quests. Conversations with other characters are now also done in the same manner of Mass Effect and Dragon Age where you choose the next discussion to speak about. Gameplay, I’m happy to say, never showed any instances of slow down at any time during exploration or battles even when multiple enemies were on screen or riding through the larger areas of the game.
From here, completing these quests along with battling enemies will help you gain experience and skill points. You use these points in your skill tree to help tailor your character of Death to more of your liking. This will help you unlock newer powers to help defeat your enemies and help you reach previously unattainable areas. What is also interesting is that enemies will drop weapons, armor and accessories which display their stats right on screen to compare to what you have currently equipped. This helps as you can almost instantaneously decide whether or not you should add it to your inventory or equip it. Some of the weapons, which are called “cursed weapons”, can also be upgraded by sacrificing other items to them in order for them to gain strength and newer abilities.
If you’ve played the original Darksiders, you will feel right at home here with the controls. Death, like War, moves impeccably while dodging opponents and enemies with ease. You will balance light and heavy attacks and will gain the ability to turn into your more powerful demonic form as sort of an overdrive mode to help clear enemies. Although for a game such as this, I found that not having a block option was rather strange.
The graphics and design, in my opinion, have always been fantastic and a strong point. And this still rings true for Darksiders II because of the terrific original designs from comic book artist Joe Madureira. This gives the series the look of an Image/WildStorm comic book or graphic novel adventure that was extremely popular during the mid to late 90’s. Especially when battling some of the larger enemies in the game, they are all shown and done in great detail. The environments in this part though have changed some. The original Darksiders showed a somewhat modern world with cars, buildings, subways and so forth destroyed into something worse after the end of the world, the environments in this entry show more of a fantasy setting this time with vast mountains, forests and so forth. But without saying any spoilers, in the second part of the game this setting takes a more evil twist.
And I should also give praise for the great voice acting in the game. If there was ever a person to voice the Horseman Death in a video game, Michael Wincott (The Crow) is that person. His voice is a perfect fit especially when speaking and interacting with other characters in game. At times I found myself summoning Despair (Death’s horse) when I could not, simply to hear Death speak.
Now although there is much good with this game, not all is not well though in Darksiders II. In the game you are paired with your crow Dust, who will act as a guide pointing you in the direction you should be going. Problem here is the Dust, especially in small areas at times, will not know where to go. He will fly back and forth between doors leading you sometimes on a wild chase. At times, I did not know exactly where to go and Dust simply made it worse. These cases I found it was just better to wonder on my own, which at times was the better idea.
Another problem I encountered was with some of the quests in the game. I can understand that in games such as this, knowledge does not come free, but I felt as if some of the tasks were simply added on to make the game longer. An instance here is when I am told to find someone. But before I’m told where they are, I must first complete quests to learn the location. After completing these, I am sent on my way to meet said character. After finding them, and solving the puzzles to get to them, I am now told to now complete quests for them before they can assist me. Problem here is that I felt that most of these quests do not have anything to do with the overall story and was simply there to add padding to the game. It would have been nice if these were optional side-quests instead that would have granted you more powerful weapons, if you would have liked to complete these.
Still overall Darksiders II is a worthy entry into the franchise. Now while some parts of the game may drag on, the overall feel from action, story and gameplay should make you overlook its few faults.
I give Darksiders II an 8/10
(This review can be found at ThreeTallNerds.com)