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Denny Markovic
04 Jan, 2010

Darksiders Review

PS3 Review | Was the Wrath of War worth the wait?
So let’s be pretty honest with each other here: there haven’t been many high quality dungeon-crawling adventure games released in recent years, which really sucks. Considering the quality of some, such as the legendary Ocarina of Time, you’d expect more games to follow in the same vein, where exploration and wonder are rewarded, dungeons are cleverly designed and a powerful boss and reward wait at the end of the road. So it was certainly exciting to hear about Darksiders, which follows this kind of philosophy and rekindles a formula that worked so well. But just because it follows a proven formula, doesn’t mean it’s good by default, right? Of course not, but after a thorough swim in the deep and mysterious pools of the debut game from Vigil Games, the water is indeed refreshing and dare we say it, a fantastic experience.

Darksiders is a story about the End of the World, and how it came about prematurely (no innuendo intended). Angels and Demons flooded the Earth and eventually killed off humankind, but it wasn’t just the pearly gates and fiery depths that consumed the Earth. So in comes War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the protagonist of Darksiders. Having been summoned to Earth to call upon the End and to begin smashing skulls of both Angels and Demons for judgement’s sake, War’s progress is halted as he is accused of prematurely bringing the End upon Humankind. War denies this and claims he was summoned, even though the ‘seventh seal’ was not broken. However, instead of an instant death, he asks to be sent back to Earth so he may uncover the truth of why the Apocalypse was brought on before the required time. And so begins your journey into uncovering truths and regaining your former strength.

The story bases itself much off the New Testament, just with enormous alterations and a giant injection of ‘Gaming Awesome’ put into it. The story does a great job of being the driving force behind the 20 or so hour journey of Darksiders. Not only does it hold the player’s interest with several very interesting characters throughout the quest, but also a very intriguing and unpredictable story, which boils down to conspiracies and political turmoil amongst the Three Kingdoms of Heaven, Hell and Man.

Shut up woman get on my horse.

Shut up woman get on my horse.
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Thankfully with the great story and development comes some excellent gameplay mechanics, which are borrowed from several different big name games. Darksiders plays much like a Zelda game, where locking onto enemies is singular focused like the Z-Targeting system and you can switch between targets with the flick of the analogue stick. Furthermore, dungeons hold large bosses that are always locked away by elaborate rooms filled with cleverly designed puzzles. These puzzles are neither too frustrating nor too easy, with each requiring a decent amount of thought and trial and error before you’re able to get through them, and there are a ton of them in each respective dungeon based area. Dungeons also hold new items and abilities that will allow you to access areas previously out of reach, and whether or not the area is holding some secret item or is the right place to go, the game always feels rewarding and there’s definitely more than enough secrets in the game to encourage players to keep exploring.

When it comes to Combat however, Darksiders is an entirely different beast to Zelda. In fact, it’s more like God of War. Fights are frenetic and fast, you can dodge with rapid succession, switch around and chain attacks with a lot of ease. Air juggling with your massive sword is also possible, and you can combine many of your attacks with special equipment that you find throughout the game and some of the secondary weapons which you can also acquire. Kill animations also exist in the same vein as God of War, where a big B/Circle button appears above the head of a weakened monster. Instead of activating a Quick Time Event though, it goes straight into the kill animation. It’s debatable on whether this is a good thing or not, but we felt that it was better in this case, as it kept up with the flow of the game, instead of needing you to watch intensely for the 8 different buttons you need to press before you actually kill something. It also lets you have a good look at the animation and work that went into these executions, which are both satisfying and really good looking at that.

There are plenty of interesting breaks in the combat as well, such as the ability to pick up an enemies weapon and play the game temporarily like you would a 3rd person shooter such as Gears of War, an on-rails shooting area, and also picking up environmental objects to use as weapons or ammo, as you can throw all kinds of things at enemies (our favourite being the chair). There are several other things you receive later in the game to further diversify the combat, but for we’ll leave that for you to discover for yourself.

Lightning smooth, electric feel. War for men.

Lightning smooth, electric feel. War for men.
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Upgrading and infusing items into weapons is also possible in Darksiders, an activity usually handled by the vendor of the game, Vulgrim. He appears at certain waypoints in the game to sell you things such as health and wrath potions, and eventually acts as something of a quick travel option. Which helps a lot, as the overworld itself is quite enormous. There’s a ton of other things to say on how much content and gameplay there actually is in Darksiders, but to put it bluntly, it’s mostly fantastic in its execution, highly polished, and also rewards the player for being a curious cave dweller, which is something that many non-RPGs haven’t done effectively in quite some time. There’s a ton of things to look out for as well, so players have plenty of things to do once the main story is over and done with.

Apart from the game’s excellent mechanics, part of the reason behind its intriguing nature is due to its immaculately designed world, thanks largely to Comic Artist Joe Madureira’s direction and influence. The post-apocalyptic world is quite barren and hellish, but also vivid and dynamic in colour, where bright reds, greens and blues will pop out at you all over the place. This also applies to the characters in the game, where Demons, Angels and War himself are painstakingly detailed, have a lot of personality behind them and are certain to leave a mark in the minds of gamers. It’s also technically a fairly strong title, but relies more on its high resolution textures and stylised animation to stand out, in which it does not faulter at all. Texture work is very clean, sharp and brings out a lot of detail in the world, and the animation is very fluid and brings out a lot of personality and expression in each character. The good news is both the PS3 and 360 versions are about identical in visual flair so both factions will have a great looking title on their hands. But to appease the questions on which one is better, we’d give it to the PlayStation 3 version as though it has less fillrate (vibrancy of colour) than the 360 counterpart, it also has less screen tearing and a slightly smoother frame rate at points. Overall though, the differences are quite negligible.

Aurally, Darksiders is very good as well, particularly in its voice acting where each character feels just right with their respective voiceovers and execution is never too forced, but keeping a nice balance where the game doesn’t try to take itself too seriously. Sound effects are solid and crisp as well, with slashes of a sword and powerful attacks certainly standing out the most in the midst of a large fight. And finally the music is fantastic, with composer Cris Velasco of God of War fame pumping out the darkly toned orchestrated music when appropriate in the game, setting the tone of areas very well. It’s overall a very good effort on the sound front, with PS3 owners enjoying either Dolby Digital or DTS, and 360 with Dolby Digital.

Ego: War has it.

Ego: War has it.
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If we were to fault Darksiders in any way, it would be in its use of traditional setups in some areas. Item usage and customisation can be a little cumbersome, similar to Ocarina of Time where you get so many items that you have to pause, assign the item you need into your shortcuts and then play, and the controls are arguably very ambitious, with literally every button on the pads used for something, and going so far as combining several for just one move. One could argue that the game does borrow too much from many older games, though this is more an observation than a criticism.

But in reality, some of these criticisms are minor at best, and will rarely hinder the enjoyment of an absolutely stellar game with a lot of polish and personality to boot. The game never tries to play out like a movie or pretend to be a cinematic experience, and for this we’re quite thankful, as all your achievements and rewards are dictated entirely by you and not by a well choreographed triggering event. Darksiders is a pure gamer’s kind of game that harks back to many gaming greats, and a fantastic start for newcomer Vigil Games.
The Score
Darksiders is a fantastic debut for Vigil Games and an addictive adventure destined to spawn a cult of worshippers. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Darksiders Content

New DarkSiders trailer
13 Dec, 2009 Major Ruin.
Darksiders Developer Interview
11 Dec, 2009 Going to War with the lead artist of the game.
A couple of DarkSiders trailers
08 Dec, 2009 Meet the weapons and the monsters.
43 Comments
4 years ago
Thank you for the review Denny. I must admit, this game had completely flown underneath my gaming radar, maybe because of the time of the year. I'm intrigued by how you compared the game (dungeon crawling aspects) to Ocarina of Time but the combat to God of War; I’m actually a bit confused at what type of game it actually is. For me, OoT = win, GoW = not my cup of tea. Hmm... I’m going to check up some other impressions and maybe some videos just to clear the air.
4 years ago
"It tastes just like raisins"
4 years ago
Interesting how this game has got no advertising at all really yet looks like a really cool game. I guess that is THQ for you.
4 years ago
benspyda wrote
Interesting how this game has got no advertising at all really yet looks like a really cool game. I guess that is THQ for you.
There have been posters advertising the game in the EB Stores I have visited over the past few months actually
4 years ago
Wow, I had no idea this was even close to release, let alone that it might be good. I had pretty much dismissed it a couple of years ago when I saw footage of this horrible boss fight against a sand worm, but it looks like it's come a long way since then.
4 years ago
I've been waiting for this.

Best game released all year imo icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
Had me sold when you mentioned Zelda. :)

Have been keeping a finger on this game but didn't think it would be this good. Seems to be getting rave reviews all over the place.

Now I just need some PALGN bargains and I'm away. (Well, when it comes out in 3 days time)
4 years ago
This month...everyone needs to buy

1.Bayonetta
2.Darksiders

What a way to kick off 2010 =)
4 years ago
Thanks for the review denny another must buy
4 years ago
Wow. Is Bayonetta and Drksiders more accessible than God of War or DMC? I sucked at them both, and would love to give these a go.
4 years ago
Fluffmon wrote
Best game released all year imo icon_biggrin.gif
That's not saying much though. icon_razz.gif

I haven't paid much attention to this game, but it's looking to be a very interesting title. Great review Denny.
4 years ago
God of War's combat mixed with Zelda's puzzles? The only way you could make that better is if you make the protagonist Batman. Oh wait!

Sounds really good though, most definitely will end up buying it along with Bayonetta once I get through my current glut of games.
4 years ago
Quote
Wow. Is Bayonetta and Drksiders more accessible than God of War or DMC? I sucked at them both, and would love to give these a go.
Yes!!!!! icon_biggrin.gif
4 years ago
Cyph wrote
Thank you for the review Denny. I must admit, this game had completely flown underneath my gaming radar, maybe because of the time of the year. I'm intrigued by how you compared the game (dungeon crawling aspects) to Ocarina of Time but the combat to God of War; I’m actually a bit confused at what type of game it actually is. For me, OoT = win, GoW = not my cup of tea. Hmm... I’m going to check up some other impressions and maybe some videos just to clear the air.
Think of it more as a Zelda game just with God of War/DMC style combat mechanics. God of War's main focus is entirely combat, while Darksiders has a good balance between fun and easy going combat with complex dungeon designs. That and the personalities in Darksiders are waaaaaaaay more likeable than Angerfist McBaldus from God of War..

Quote
Wow. Is Bayonetta and Drksiders more accessible than God of War or DMC? I sucked at them both, and would love to give these a go.
Maybe Darksiders, as like I said, it's more Zelda than GoW. Bayonetta on the other hand, it's a sped up DMC1 essentially, and knowing your taste in games Jim, I'm not sure if you'll get into it. Try the demo on XBL.
4 years ago
Great Review -

pre Ordered this on the weekend

Cant wait to get my hand on it on Thursday...
4 years ago
Jim Dash

Bayonetta will not force you to excel, It really builds on DMC but it is far more forgiving. The game isnt a walk in the park but it does have frequent check points and the option to change the level of difficulty during the game. I believe even new comers can enjoy Bayonetta to the fullest.
4 years ago
Thanks for the excellent review Denny.

I too have not paid much attention to this title, but am looking forward to picking up a copy now. Nice to see a new IP done well (and an interesting one too), as well as a new game maker execute so well in their first attempt. I'm glad they didn't rush it to get it out before Xmas. Either that or they did not want to compete with the other high profile titles. Which is a good strategy (Capcom are doing the same for some games). Either way kudos to them for a great effort and hopefully the community will get behind the game and support it. I know I will.

And DTS support on PS3 is very welcome. icon_smile.gif Woohoo!
4 years ago
On the question of Bayonetta's accessibility, I find myself at a mental loggerheads.

It controls like a dream, and everything is pretty intuitive, but the core combat is so layered and deep that it might bewilder more casual action gamers. On the other hand, as Mr Khan so correctly says, the checkpoints are extremely generous and frequent and therefore anyone can make it through the game with enough perseverance. Definitely give the demo a whirl, Jim Dash, but know that the game gets better and better from that point.
4 years ago
wow the comments are wayy off topic
4 years ago
Its amazing that there are hardly any games that use the Zelda formula of dungeon, new power boss etc. Nintendo take their sweet time making them and I'm sure everyone wants a it in between.

This game looks like it is taking the best parts of Zelda and putting it into a new awesome world. Just hope that it isn't "xtreme" and trying to be "adult".

Think this is a definite get for me. Not sure about Bayonetta yet. I'll wait to see what Sony accomplish with the upgraded PS3 version.
4 years ago
bbbuyinnng icon_wink.gif
4 years ago
Seriously the wrong time for this game to be released. This game would normally appeal to me, but with a packed 3 months ahead (starting with Bayonetta on same day as this!) I simply cannot afford to invest anytime into this. I might pick it up later in the dry winter months of gaming savation.
4 years ago
I'm a little surprised, I knew very little about the game and was expecting it to be a DMC style affair, to hear that it's similar to the Zelda style makes me really anxious to get this one.
4 years ago
have been looking forward to this for some time. Can't wait!!!
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  7/01/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  THQ
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  1

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