The cover of Darksiders has a rather menacing individual riding a huge horse and who looks distinctly frightening. It is clear from the cover itself that this it not a game for the younger crowd.
Upon first playing this game, it is quite evident the creators have “borrowed” concepts from other games. It has gameplay much like the God of War series, it is in the third-person and exceedingly violent; it has puzzles and dungeons out of the Legend of Zelda; Portal’s titular portals are present in the form of gauntlets, instead of guns; and so is Bionic Commando‘s grappling arm. I, however, forgive all this borrowing because the developers took all these great concepts, put them in a blender with some kicking art direction by Joe Madureira, ending up with a wonderful game that is a pleasure to play.
One of the most important properties of an action adventure game like this is the combat, which works well here. In Darksiders, combat is about combos, quick button mashing, blocking, and swapping out weapons depending on the situation. If you aren’t careful, you can be taken out by the weakest of enemies and some battles are tough, very tough. You have to pay attention and be very smart about your fights — vary attacks, combos, and special moves or the smallest of enemies will smite you. My personal favorite battle involves fighting evil knights on horseback whilst you are on a horse yourself — you must time your attacks and blocks to not only hurt the evil knights but also keep yourself moving so their attacks don’t hurt you. Great fun indeed.
Clearly, the action is memorable, and so is the lead character, especially his voice and attitude. He is a horseman of the apocalypse, specifically War, and you feel quite powerful just controlling him. He is a large, punishing being, stomping about and leaving destruction in his wake.
War mistakenly opened the gate for the apocalypse too early, leading to the destruction of mankind. Now he must pay for this crime. Very quickly we discover that he was set up and so must figure out who did so and why.
War starts out as a weaker character, as weak as a horseman of the apocalypse can be, with no magic and no special abilities. By collecting various tokens and trinkets you get the ability to glide, double jump, use the portal gauntlets, and other abilities as well.
It is nice to play a main character who is actually a good guy. Even though he is War, there is a sense of honor and duty in the character. The puzzles in the game are difficult enough to make me scratch my head but not enough to make me put the controller down. A lot of it is stuff like opening door A by hitting switch 1, but first you have to figure out how to get to switch 1 using your portal gauntlet and navigating the moving foot holds.
On the other side of things, I got lost… a lot…. I can only play in half hour to hour increments and often only three days a week. Whenever I come back to the game I spend about a half hour trying to figure out where I am supposed to go and how to progress past portions I had already completed. A little arrow or a blue dot on the radar would have been nice.
I would pick this up for any gamer this holiday season. Chances are they have never played it, and will enjoy it. And, it’s pretty cheap right now too.
Darksiders is rated M (Mature) Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Suggestive Themes.