Review by MrRem
Fun times at Horsemen High
Well first off this game has been out for a very long time. The sequel has just come out... And as many know sales these days have to be pretty good to get it where you can go and create a sequel. That being said I shall go over what there is to like and dislike about the game.
First off the story line which toward the beginning the cut scenes are more frequent so I'm choosing to start there. It's interesting but shortly after the basic intro of why you're there or what has happened it becomes a very slow paced set up of go here kill this boss now go there and kill that boss.
Now speaking of the bosses. You should note right off that they don't spell out anything when it comes to any of the main bosses. Simply put the boss style in this game is very much a mind your surroundings style. If you've fought any of the bigger regular enemies and saw how little your puny weapons did to them than you should probably figure out when you come up against the mammoth sized bosses that charging in and hack 'n slashing won't do you a ton of good. There are also annoying puzzles in this game. The average puzzle is simplistic. Why am I putting puzzles in here? Well the bosses are more or less a puzzle you have to solve while being attacked. Once you do this that and the other thing you'll stun every boss. Finally after doing this a few times you'll move on to a new sequence you'll have to complete. Most bosses have two or three sequences you'll have to figure out before you win. Some people may find this horrible but it's a video game thing as old as can be and I didn't really think it was that hard to figure out what to do against any of the bosses.
Now a quick note for people who want to compare this to Zelda games. It's not a Zelda game but has similarly used many Zelda esque things. One of which is back tracking/post finding a new weapon exploring. (almost no real exploring/is needed as most the paths were very linear) The longer you can hold out and not back track the better as you'll be able to go back and get everything all at once later. Nothing's really that hidden in these so it takes some of the drag out of a game for those just wanting to rush through and find things. Also in this sense the world seems very claustrophobic compared to your average open world Zelda game when you look at that particular aspect. They also have way points helpful but most the bigger enemies never respawn so you can more or less fly back through most areas when/if needed. This game did feel very Zelda like in the set up but never seemed to meet that standard a Zelda game has. When you look at the fighting/graphics engine and powers of you guy I wouldn't really go and compare this game to Zelda beyond a few over world issues.
That being said there's plenty of more delightful things put into this game. A: a counter attack, B: a Rage gauge, C: a Wrath gauge. The Wrath gauge is a simple special attacks/defensive use. I almost never use it and I'm playing on Normal mode... The attacks are worth using but your main weapons are so much more fun and plenty powerful on their own that unless you're on an extreme difficulty it's not that important. Also you have Rage which is a seriously over powered attack that if you just save for when you run into the right enemy you can crush them like Link does to grass in Zelda. (Way overpowered attack) Counter Attack while hard to get the timing right and getting it wrong can be quite costly is still fun. Simple tap RB at the right time. Personally I found myself dashing away and dodging enemy attacks more than attempting to muscle my way through.
Now than there is an interesting Metroid Prime styled health gauge. You kill a boss you increase it, you find 4 skull piece chests it increases. Basically has a energy tank that loads anytime one disappears but you can also absorb things and refill it. The only thing that makes the fighting stuff in this game semi tough is the fact that 90% of your enemies won't replenish any of your life. But the really weak ones that you can instant kill with a tap of the B button will provide a minute health boost.
The B button. Great finishing kill thing. Best part of this is when you start to kill a guy you're not being attacked by anyone at all. They all kind of back off which makes it quite useful.
Fighting system review. First there are purchasable weapon attacks. Most of which aren't to bad at max level 3 power but there are so few it's not that impressive and becomes kind of repetitive. On the plus side it's still fun slashing about and tearing through enemies. And to relate back to the Health gauge anytime your health gets super low near death all you have to do is kill something and it gives you health. The beauty of this set up is... you can more or less stay in limbo when you're near death between a full gauge and the half a gauge mark that starts forcing enemies to drop health upon death. There is a bit of a skill in surviving waves of enemies til you find a skull piece or a health chest. Or just get out of combat so you can kill non enemy creatures for health flow. I didn't find any of the combat things that over powering you just can't be stupid and focus on one enemy nonstop when surrounded by 5+ enemies or you will get ganked in the back. Even when I go into a fight walk out with almost no life I just simply think... Why didn't I use my Wrath gauge defensive/offensive booster? Since like I said I almost never seem to use it despite that it is there. Mostly because I haven't found a real need to. Simple side dashes and things suffice to keep you out of harms way most the time. I'm sure there are tons of faq tips on how to beat certain areas for anyone who doesn't feel they're doing well in the fighting system the way it's set up.
Nicely though if you do die is a check point system that is fairly frequent. Downside is considering the story line they missed a chance upon you dying to through in some sort of Council cut scene about your sentence being served or something.
There are also things to increase your magic gauge. You start out with two. And there are a few instant increase things around but most are shards of which you need 4 or 5 to get a new one.
The sounds match what you're doing and aren't annoying just kind of there. You could play the game muted and not miss out on much.
Graphics unfortunately compared to CG movie graphics are really starting to look dated in this game. But they're not by any means bad. I'm not a graphics NAZI like some. I care more about the quality play experience which isn't hindered by the graphics at all. Although some of the color choices for some of the wall climb things don't always pop out but this is more of a design choice to have everything be kind of dingy.
Camera angle in this game has a tendency to make traversal odd. But a quick wiggle of the (RS) and it generally makes it so you can move again.
Dungeon Designs are okay. There's nothing special about them. Go this way do something, go this way find something, go that way so you can use the new thing to get to the once inaccessible areas. And almost every dungeon has a health and wrath shard. Plus for killing a boss you get a full health boost. In comparison to Zelda dungeons are about the same but easier to get from point A to point B in and they're a lot smaller aka easier to run through.
Special arena challenges. There are special arena challenges. The only hard part is beating the first one to get that health and/or wrath boost. The challenges aren't that bad and they also kind of show and teach you some of the fighting techniques you could or should be using. In most of them there are giant boss creatures... More often than not though there are weak guys near buy that make for easier prey kind of turning the fights into a bit of a cat and mouse thing where you're the mouse dodging but at the same time the cat attacking even smaller mice. A better way to look at it might be a Dog, cat and mouse thing. Where you're the cat. When I play through on higher difficulty I may not find these things as enjoyable but never really had trouble with these.
In the sand area there are some annoying worms that will eat you. Which wouldn't be that bad but they force you to run though one area and there's no real run now, slow down time, or anything of that nature to assist you. It was about the only spot I felt like you needed a guide as to how/when to do things to get across.
That being said your guardian jail man was a bit crappy. He's like Navi from Ocarina of Time only doesn't chew your ear off. When you call him he just tells you where to go next. Doesn't really help you if you're just not seeing something and stuck. He was really just a pointless add in for storyline usage. you can almost always hold back down and figure where to go next on your little path.
I think that covers everything. A well blended mesh of some other games. Easy to recommend. Although game only plays about 20 hours in length. Just one of the minor downsides to this game. But if you enjoy it and don't find it that hard there is plenty of replay value on a slightly higher setting. If you're the type who goes and reruns through the latest Zelda game from time to time it's a decent buy for 20 dollars or less. I'd like to restate my main flaws with the game. Small world designs, overly easy puzzles, a few annoying out run the worm spots, and a worthless navigator/shadow follower. That being said these things don't really overshadow the game play which is strongly fight and storyline based.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Darksiders (US, 01/05/10)
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