Hell On Earth
Posted 3 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
When you get to found your own studio to create the game that you really want, it shows a level of commitment to your idea that is impressive in the games industry. Vigil Games founders David Adams and legendary comic artist, Joe Madureira, wanted to create a unique action/adventure game that would distinguish itself from other games. I mentioned in my preview that expectations for the game have been high ever since I first saw it in action. Though it’s not a perfect game, Darksiders does things differently enough to distinguish itself as the first great game of 2010.
In Darksiders, you play one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War. You have to go to Earth to find out who started the Apocalypse and inadvertently sent you to Earth before you were supposed to. It’s a choice between a death sentence and fighting through hordes of demons on Earth.
As the story progresses, you will earn back powers the Council stripped from you (one of them being the incredibly powerful Chaos form and War’s phantom steed RUIN) but you also improve your abilities thorough Vulgrim, a demon trader who is willing to help you in exchange for the souls of your enemies. These souls, specifically the blue ones, act as your in-game currency. Your fallen enemies and destructible objects will also drop yellow (used to build up your Wrath power bar) and green (fill your life meter) souls. Vulgrim also sells weapons enhancements, Health and Wrath Shards, new weapons like the Tremor Gauntlet and the Scythe and even new devastating moves.
Speaking of serviceable demons, since the Council doesn’t trust you, they shackle you with The Watcher, an annoying demon mandated to keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t do anything the Council wouldn’t like. He also serves as a guide throughout your quest if you ever need direction. Not that you will need it a lot but he’s there, painstakingly reminding you that you are not alone.
You’ll also get an array of upgradeable weapons and devastating abilities that fit your destructive nature and also help you move around the world. Aside from your trusty Chaoseater blade, you get some other helpful weapons like the throwable Crossblade, which acts as both a long-range weapon and a puzzle-solving item, transferring elements like fire and electricity from one place to another.
Even though it feels much more like a God of War game because of its bloody and gory combat, the more you get into the story, the faster you realize that it has equal parts open-world exploration component in it as well.
The gameplay remains simple and intuitive for much of the adventure. You visit many destroyed locations and fight your way through ghouls and demons, while solving some brain-bending puzzles but one of the things Darksiders doesn’t succeed perfectly at its the consistency between certain enemies and bosses thrown at you. The first true boss, Tiamat, is incredibly frustrating to beat but once you get farther into the game, you have the impression that it gets much more easier. Given the fact that War acquires new powers and abilities may be one of the reasons why, however, you got to hate it when the difficulty ramp gets inversed as such. Ever had the impression that the last boss you have to beat after a long journey was just a throw-away because a boss was needed (Fontaine in Bioshock or even worse, The Joker in Batman Arkham Asylum)?
The other thing that made me mad at times is the number of enemies you need to confront in certain areas. For example, you enter one room in which you need to get a specific item, you get to beat four demons in which there’s one bigger than the others and armoured. You beat them all and another wave with eight demons arrives with two big ones armored. After you win the battle, you get the item and then, you get to beat more armored demons before leaving the room. Although you collect souls to refill your life bar, I’ve asked myself why do I have to go through so many enemies? While combat is quite varied, some may find it a bit tiresome after a few hours. That said, I never found it monotonous, especially considering the character you get to play, the array of weapons and powers you get to use and the excellent combat vs puzzle pacing involved.
Graphics & Audio
Darksiders won’t be the most gorgeous game you see this year, however, the game’s overall visuals are as good as they are because of its distinctive art direction, provided by comic book creator Joe Madureira (Uncanny X-Men, Battle Chasers). If you’ve seen some of his comic book work, you’ll notice his unique touches everywhere; from the incredible outdoor/indoor sceneries to the highly-detailed character models. It feels like an art book in motion. There are some minor visual hiccups caused by the graphic engine during movement and certain combat sequences but the art style makes it worth it.
Soundwise, the game features a discreet soundtrack and an immersive environmental sound build, all nuanced with solid voice-over work given from Liam O’Brian (War), known mostlyfor his work in the Naruto Shippuden series and Mark Hamill (The Watcher) recently heard in Batman Arkham Asylum. While I grew to like the voice-over work over time, the environmental sounds are what made me enjoy my time with Darksiders the most. Even when there’s no noticeable action, all the little noises in the background constantly remind you that you’re in the middle of a devastated world. And when the action is about to begin and you hear the apocalyptic soundtrack building-up, its a treat for the ears.
Getting through Darksiders will take you approximately twenty hours. Obviously, you can spend more time with it if you want to fully upgrade your weaponry or find all the hidden artefacts but just playing the main story will keep you busy for a while.
While January is shaping to be an interesting and busy month in the gaming industry (other games like Bayonetta, Army of Two: 40th Day and Mass Effect 2 are also being released this month), Darksiders starts the new year off with a bang. I’m extremely happy for Vigil Games and THQ for making the decision to release the game now rather than falling between the cracks during the exhausting and crazy Q4 2009 period. If you’ve got some holiday money burning a hole in your pocket, Darksiders is worth every dollar.
+ Upgradable weapons and powers
+ Challenging puzzles and simple combat mechanics
+ Unique story set-up
+ Great voice-over work, background music and environmental sounds
+ Good length (20 hr game)
- Combat may be feel too repetitive for some
- Minor graphic engine hiccups
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Release Date : 2010/01/05
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : THQ
Developer : Vigil Games
Category : Action
ESRB : M
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