Review by imagine606
"An Improvement on a Good Thing"
I came upon the first Darksiders game by pure chance. I was looking for an action/adventure type of game and had heard great things about it. In fact, I heard a lot of comparisons to the Zelda series, which is my all-time favorite series. I would constantly forget about it when going to the store to pick up any new games, often looking right at it with nothing but blank thoughts in my head. I never did wind up even as much as consider picking the case up to take a closer look.
It was with a game called The Darkness though that I lucked into finding Darksiders (okay, I probably would have eventually remembered anyway, but still, I like how it happened). The Darkness features my favorite vocalist of all time, Mike Patton. Bands he has been in include Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, and Tomahawk. He has done other work with the Dillinger Escape Plan, John Zorn, and many different solo projects from bizarre sounds to movie scores. Anyway, given the subject matter and him being in the game, I was going to get The Darkness, even though I'm not a huge first person shooter fan, it still looked unique and fun enough that I would enjoy it, like Portal was (another game with Mike Patton lending some of his vocal talents). Anyway, I went to the store and picked up Darksiders right away, mistaking it for the Darkness. I was able to notice this fairly quickly, but it got rid of the blankness that I usually had when browsing by it in stores and helped me to remember that it was another game I was looking for. That turned out to be a pretty dark day of video game purchasing, if you go by game title.
Anyway, Darksiders quickly moved to the front of the line in my backlog of games. I quickly fell in love with the mix of action with a few nice strategy elements to it. The game really reminded me of an almost equal mix of God of War and the Legend of Zelda instead of just one or the other. There was a main area, kind of a home base, and it did more than just provide instructions on where to go next, but it still wasn't any sort of huge overworld or anything like that. There in itself was what I saw as a cross between God of War III and a Zelda game. The violence was more of like a God of War game, even keeping track of how much blood you had spilled, but then you get another Zelda element with the weapons involved and how they were used. The game did have a lot of wrinkles that needed to be ironed out though. While I'm not someone who really judges games based on graphics, they were very average, if not below average for a game released in 2010. There were issues I had with the controls of the game (which was a much bigger issue to me than graphics), and I felt like there wasn't enough variation in places throughout the game. It felt like I was in the exact same place for almost the whole game.
What I did see though was a TON of potential. I knew that if Darksiders got a sequel it had a chance to be a very good, if not great game. When I found out that a sequel was going to be coming I was very happy, needless to say. I mean, they could get rid of the control (mainly the jumping) issues and expand on what was already a good game. Well, that's exactly what they did.
The first thing I'll talk about with this game is one of the things that I find to be of much lesser importance, and that's the graphics and art style. The graphics in this game are fantastic! The art style is even cooler, in my opinion. It may even be what they were going for in the first one, but I just couldn't really tell. Anyway, it took me a little bit to really figure it out, but the look is of a comic book. It's kind of cartoony with the vivid colors, but not in a way that would be as appealing to children as it would be to teens and adults. However, once it crossed my mind it was very easy to see what they were going for.
One of the biggest differences in the game, if not the biggest, is that you play as Death instead of War. Where War was more of a brute force type of protagonist, Death is much more of a finesse type of protagonist. The combat was still very good, but it was more based on dodging and getting some quick shots in there, despite getting to use a massive secondary weapon. Anyway, the biggest change is in the platforming. With Death being smaller and more agile, there's a lot of more platforming. There are a lot of Prince of Persia inspired platforming sequences that include wall running and other similar mechanics. It feels like a completely different character, which keeps fresh air coming in to the series.
Things not related to the character include the story. The story to this game has much more depth and is developed much better than the story in the first game in the series. As a whole it's a very solid story that can be broken down to being about a brother's dedication to his brother in need. There are many more characters and their side stories as well (which lead to sidequests). There is a good sized overworld with three distinct sections to it. You feel like you're in completely different places with each section. Also, there's differences between the dungeons. It could still be more, but you don't feel like you're in the same dungeon with each one.
This is also a much longer game. I remember the first one taking me somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-15 hours to complete, which isn't a terrible length for a game. However, for my first run through Darksiders 2 I found myself playing for about 21-22 hours. Sure, outside of Zelda games that's usually a bit out of my comfort zone, but it's not even close to being too terribly long for me, and for the most part I was enjoying myself while playing it, so it can't be too long as long as you're enjoying it.
Not everything was much better though. As with most games that are over 20 hours, there were some moments that dragged a bit for me. It just seemed like some things were thrown in there to just make the game longer. Not like in a fetch quest sort of way, but things like making the overworld bigger in parts just for the fun of it. Also, with new platforming mechanics come new challenges, and the wall runs at time just didn't work out. There wasn't a very large window for how you hit the wall to be able to do a wall run. Also, for me they went a little bit too far with the RPG elements. That was a huge change to the game. I thought they actually had that part down almost perfectly in the first one, but they brought much more into it for the second one where, in my opinion, it stops being as much fun and starts to feel more like work to me.
As a whole this game was an improvement on the first game in the series. It just had more to it, all together. However, I still feel like they haven't really untapped the full potential of this series. Now I'm thinking that if they do a third one (I feel confident that they'll wind up doing a total of four) that now that's the one that really has a chance to be one of the best games out there. They're so very close right now. While the first one to me was a low eight, this is a very high 8. At times it was at a 10 level and at other times it was at a 6/7 level for me. More often than not it was at a higher level though.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/18/14
Game Release: Darksiders II (Limited Edition) (US, 08/14/12)
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