Reviewed: October 30, 2010
Released: September 23, 2010
When Darksiders originally came out on the consoles earlier this year I sadly had little time to experience it other than a handful of times at a colleagueís house due to whatever game I was playing at the time. Now my chance to embrace the Horseman has finally arrived many months later with the release of Darksiders for the PC.|
I will get the Zelda reference bit out of the way as it is one of the most common topics about Darksiders. Yes, there are similarities between the two as far as gameplay mechanics, weapons and item collecting go but for me this makes the experience even more enticing.
Players take the helm of War, one of the Four Horseman, as he is called to Earth after the Seventh Seal has been broken in the End Days of the Kingdom of Man. Only in this battle of good versus evil, War is weakened, stripped of his powers and defeated by the demon Straga. To add insult to injury, War is blamed by the Charred Council, protectors of the Balance between Good and Evil, for breaking the ancient laws that he is bound by. To set things right he sent back to an Earth left in ruins to seek out the ones responsible for his false calling, but not without an annoying guardian called The Watcher to keep him in line.
You must traverse War through a nicely detailed apocalyptic world to seek out a way to get revenge on the ones responsible for his leashed romp through this third person adventure. Not that the leash does any good because your going to be taking out everything that so much as shambles at you with a humongous sword that the character actually looks like he can yield. The world is devoid of all human life and the only things you have to keep you company is a smooth talking demon called Vulgrim, your puppet master Watcher, a demon named Samael that would make Tim Curry proud and eventually Warís faithful stead from hell, Ruin.
The story is fairly linear with some room for exploration between major sections of the title. As I mentioned there is some item gathering to be done some of which is required for the story such as weapons and abilities. Others are there to increase your health and wrath (magic) via Lifestone shards (four to a skull of health) Wrath shards and cores which is instrumental to your success later on in the adventure when the enemies get increasingly more difficult.
One of the more important things to gather is souls. This occurs naturally by taking out enemies, even more if you find the ability that earns you more souls when slotted to the Death Scythe, as well as finding various chests that contain a large quantity of souls. Using these souls you visit Vulgrim and redeem the souls for attacks, health, rage, and revive items. If you bring Vulgrim, the hidden artifacts throughout the world he will reward you with more souls and even a few surprises along the way.
One of my favorite things about Darksiders is the weaponry and their different uses. Once you gain access to weapons such as the Tremor Gauntlets, Cross Blade, and the Void Walker you can access paths and places that you couldnít access before. Of all the weapons the Void Walker is my favorite. Similar to the Portal Gun, this ethereal device allows the player, or object from one place to another. While you donít get it until much later in the game, its uses come in handy for finding hidden chests and totems in previously visited locations. I also like the ability to slow time with the Chronomancer ability with the aid of the Cross Blade. While this ability is not used for combat it is a cool feature that helps you get through some of the more difficult puzzles in Darksiders.
The puzzles range from basic object placing to full path aligning sequences later in the game. I have to commend the folks at Virgil for creating cleverly integrated puzzles and designs. While not as subconsciously hidden as say the Tomb Raider or Uncharted the puzzles are designed in a hellish fashion befitting of the mood and stage set. I also have to commend Virgil on the controls as well. With all integrated puzzle adventures, control is a very important aspect as it can create the thin line between an epic death and hitting your mark.
You can choose to play two ways, one is the traditional keyboard and mouse setup and the other is a gamepad. I will say that playing with a gamepad (360 controllers) is a great way to play Darksiders especially on a PC title but I almost found it much easier to play with the keyboard and mouse. The character movement, interaction and attacks are almost just as fluid as they are when holding a controller.
The characters and the world they inhabit in Darksiders are nicely detailed with an almost comic style edge to it. The whole presentation is still a grim one and each location is completely different. Among my favorites are the Twilight Cathedral and the Black Throne, I really liked the architecture in both structures and their complexity. The characters of War and Samael stand out to me as the coolest designed characters of the bunch. While it is true that War is a brooding badass he looks the part and his Abyssal Armor form (for those adventurous enough to find the entire set) looks just awesome. The design of the heart hungry Samael is one of the best looking designs since Mr. Curryís demonic role. Heís the only other character in Darksiders that I regard as being even more of a badass than War.
To top off great visuals, Darksiders features a great score and awesome voice acting. The score is crafted by Cris Velasco (Prototype) and Michael Reagan (God of War series) who have both done great work. Their music in Darksiders really sets the tone for trip through hell and back. The voice actor behind War (Liam Oí Brian) has done some of my favorite characters from games and anime films over the years. But the real highlight of my experience comes from the nagging and foul mouthed Watcher voiced by none other than the clown prince of crime, Mark Hamill.
Darksiders took me over 20 solid hours of gameplay to beat and thatís with walking away with all of the hidden artifacts, lifestone shards, and wrath cores and the abyssal armor pieces. The overall design of the world and the game setup requires several counts of backtracking so there is plenty of opportunity to search to your heartís content for the goodies. The difficulty of the game and its various enemies ranges from cannon fodder to extremely annoying. The bosses are somewhat of a challenge but not really as rough as some of the demon minions in the rest of the word. This PC release also comes with a few goodies to be had. Coupled with the DVD and steam download are the Darksiders Soundtrack and a Darksiders Graphic Novel Comic, which are pretty cool. I really like the soundtrack so Iím pretty happy.
My trip through the hellish aftermath of Darksiders has been a highly enjoyable one full of destruction and puzzle solving adventure goodness. The world is wonderfully created and accompanied by great voice acting, cool characters and a pretty good story to boot. The controls are pretty good, especially for a keyboard and mouse setup and easy to pick up. I definitely recommend picking Darksiders up for PC whenever you can. The Last Days have never been more fun.