Review by Mordarto

"If Kratos and Zelda had a baby and was given a portal gun"

In Darksiders, you take control of War, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse who came to earth thinking that the Apocalypse has started, when it has in fact, not. Blamed for igniting a war between Heaven and Hell and prematurely starting the Apocalypse, War spends the game clearing his name and finding out what actually happened.

Gameplay - 8

Many, if not all, of the internet reviews of Darksider will mention and compare it to games of the Zelda franchise, and this review will be no exception. In fact, this review will be probably be heavier than most with Zelda comparisons.

The fighting feels like a hybrid of God of War (GoW) and Zelda, complete with Z targeting (for those of you that played either of the N64 Zelda games) and one button finishers like GoW. It has a typical attack button for the sword, a second attack button for a secondary weapon (scythe or fist), as well as Zelda like equipment (discussed later) that you can use for combat. Various button and attack combos are similar to typical hack and slash games, although Darksiders' controls feel a bit more sophisticated than the rest. Aside from the combat, many features of the game are just screaming Zelda clone.

There are 5 main dungeons, all of them Zelda-esque, starting from the maps and “compasses” (an item that lets you see all of the treasure chests on the map), and ending with a boss fight that requires some brainpower to win. Each dungeon is also filled with puzzles involving dragging and pulling objects and the equipment that War obtains (from a boomerang like shuriken to a hookshot to a portal gun). There's a horse that War can ride whose stamina system is identical to the carrots stamina system of Epona, and heck, War even gets an annoying sidekick who drops hints here and there during the game. It's practically an evil, sadistic, male version of Navi.

However, there are a few instances where the game breaks out of its Zelda clone status. For example, in some areas of the game you can pick up the enemy's weapon, which effectively turns the game into a 3rd person shooter, or, there's another instance where you get to ride on a gryphon like creature, but these instances are few. For the most part, the game is 70% Zelda and 30% GoW, so if you like either game, well, you'll enjoy the gameplay of Darksiders.

Story - 7

To be honest, I didn't expect much out of the story, and I was pleasantly surprised by it while I progressed through the game. Bits and pieces fit through the game, leading to a somewhat hard to predict plot twist of sorts. The developers were able to take a Biblical concept and turn it into an interesting story.

Graphics - 8

The graphics were great by my standards. Two area that stands out above the rest are the beginning of the game which is the Apocalypse in modern times as well as the water textures. War himself felt a bit “cartoony” with near World of Warcraft like graphics, but the environment felt nice. The gore is near God of War levels: ripping out hearts, pulling out demons' heads with the spinal cord still attached, each demon spilling liters of blood, etc, etc.

Sound - 5

This is where Darksiders begins to lack. For the most part, the music was quiet/non-existent, and the sound effects were nothing special. The voice acting was pretty solid, but enemies, especially bosses, tend to repeat the same two lines over and over in between their attacks, which tend to get annoying. NPCs also repeat the same line over and over when you go near them, and this was especially annoying when there was a NPC in a dungeon who repeated himself while you were trying to figure out a puzzle.

Playtime - 4

This is where, unfortunately, Darksiders pales in comparison to its spiritual predecessor, the Zelda franchise. Darksiders is, on the hardest difficulty, around a 15 hour game, with only 5 dungeons and no side quests (unless you consider going around collecting treasure chests and what not side quests). This is in comparison to Ocarina of Time which had around 11 dungeons, or Majora's Mask which, although only having around 4-5 dungeons, also had a multitude of side quests. While Darksiders is released at a lower price than most new releases now a days, the price itself still doesn't justify for a 15 hour game in my opinion, despite the fact that most modern games are roughly 10 hours in length. The replayability is also low, especially if your first run through the game was on its hardest setting, which is what I've done. The closest thing you get to a New Game + is starting with the optional armor that you could collect during previous runs. Otherwise, it's the same ol' dungeons, same ol' storyline.

Overall (not an average) - 7

Darksiders is definitely worth a rental, or a buy if you can justify the price for around 15 hours of gameplay. It is essentially a short Zelda with better, GoW like combat and gore with a solid story and good graphics. Vigil has done well for its first game, although it did heavily borrow elements from other games like I've stated time and time again in this review. However, I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing, as it is the combination of these elements that make this game a great game to play. If you're into dungeons and puzzles, as well as hack and slash combat, then Darksiders will definitely be a fun game for you.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/13/10

Game Release: Darksiders (US, 01/05/10)

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