Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Darksiders Review

Game: Darksiders
Genre: Action-Adventure
Developer(s): Vigil Games
Publisher(s): THQ
Release Date: January 5, 2010
Rating: M
System: XBOX 360, Playstation 3

It’s the dawn of a new decade. And with it, comes a slew of new games to either rent, buy, or simply glance at. So, with the dawn of a new decade, I’ll be talking about a game that’s focused on the end of the world. Ironic, ain’t it?

Darksiders is an action-adventure game where you play as War, one of the Four Horsemen. The Apocalypse has started before its destined time and War has been framed for the mistake (because surely, the end of mankind is nothing more than a small mistake). However, he has been given one chance at redemption. Stripped of his powers, he must scour the barren lands of earth in search of the ones truly responsible for the ill-timed Apocalypse.

So when I first saw this game, it just felt like a post-apocalyptic God of War for the 360. With all the massive amounts of blood, gore, and violence that put a smile on people’s face, it was obvious why. However, playing it made me alter my thoughts of the game a bit. Darksiders feels like a mix between God of War, Devil May Cry, and – strangely enough – The Legend of Zelda.

Darksider’s game play is familiar to the God of War series more than anything. A violent gore-fest where you deal as much damage to your enemies and brutally execute them once you see a flashing button above their head. The currency in the game is souls, where the different color souls have different properties (yellow souls fills up your magic meter, green fills up life, blue you collect to purchase items/weapons/etc). The weapons you gain throughout the game are all upgradeable and can be customized with add-on abilities that you discover through the game. Abilities in this game are purchased rather than unlocked, which means you may be seeing the merchant demon a bit more than you choose to.

I’m trying not to bash this game by comparing it to God of War, but the similarities are a bit obvious.

One thing that you will realize is that there are a lot of puzzles and dungeon-like spaces in this game, giving it the “Zelda” feel. Even The Watcher, a demon who’s your personal parole officer in the story, makes an off-handed comment on it, saying “Who knows what kind of treasure is down here?” The in-game puzzles are challenging, some making you think outside the box for the answer while others make you wish you had a strategy guide (or FAQ) on hand.

But back to the game play. The combat in the game gets hectic as hell. Whether you’re fighting against hordes of demons or the army of the heavens, you won’t have much of a moment to breathe amidst the chaos. The AI in the game is a bit obvious, but when you’re surrounded by enemies, an easy AI will quickly turn into a difficult problem. Even with the moves in the game (a counterattack that relies on timing your block right, an evade move, abilities, environmental weapons, and a rage mode), it may not guarantee your safety. There’s been many times where I’ve evaded attacks and still taken damage from it so be warned that you may be taking some unnecessary damage.

With all the glaring comparisons/rip-offs of the previously mentioned games, Darksiders is, surprisingly, a good game. Even with the borrowed elements included, it’s a very enjoyable game that you’ll find yourself continuing to play. From the copious amounts of violence (there’s literally a counter in the game’s options cataloging the amount of enemies’ blood you spilled…morbid, yet amusing) to the mind-boggling puzzles, it really compliments the game in a way that surprises even me. It’s far from the perfect game but if you get past the obvious influences, you’ll really enjoy Darksiders.

Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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