Sometimes, it takes a few tries to really get the feel of a series down. After a mediocre first installment, Vigil Games was able to create something a bit more special with Darksiders 2. While it might not have set the sales charts on fire, it was with this installment that the series began to find its footing. Our Darksiders 2 review will take an objective look at this game and offer a recommendation at the end.
|Type of game:||Third-Person Action|
|Total Play Time:||28 hours|
|System Requirements:||Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC; Wii U, XBox One, Playstation 4 (Deathfinitive Edition)|
The World of Darksiders 2
To appreciate Darksiders 2, you must first understand all aspects of the game. As such, we’ll be looking at a few basic factors separately before coming to our overall conclusion. We’ll look at the game’s atmosphere and influences, the character of Death, the storyline, and the game’s DLC.
Critics generally liked Darksiders 2 more than the first game, with a favorable Metacritic score from users as well. It’s been successful enough to bring about a remastered collected edition of the first two games, as well as an upcoming third game in the series.
Atmosphere & Location
The game takes place in a highly stylized version of a Judeo-Christian cosmology. This is a world after the end, one inhabited by both demons and angels. Humans have been wiped out due to a premature Apocalypse, and the only ones who seem to care are the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
If the game seems like it was adapted from a comic book, it’s for a good reason – the game’s world is largely based on the design work of acclaimed comic artist Joe Madureira. Their entire world seems a bit larger than life, taking on something that’s a good cross between a gothic punk and superhero aesthetic. It’s a much different type of after-the-end world than most games portray, and its atmosphere is one of the most special things about the game.
In terms of mechanical influences, the clearest antecedent is The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Like the former game, this game is divided into an Overworld and Dungeons. Both games use the same basic types of targeting, the same basic types of combat, and even a similar type of progression. There are also some very clear influences from the God of War series, especially in terms of character design.
The main character of Darksiders 2 is Death, which is fitting for the sheer amount of destruction the character causes over the course of the game. You can tell a great deal about a character from his design, and Death certainly doesn’t disappoint in that matter – he’s every bit as dangerous and deadly as his looks would suggest. Unfortunately, Death is also about as shallow as his design.
In most stories, there’s some type of character growth. In Darksiders 2, though, you start with a character who is fully-formed. Death is centuries old by this point and this is an adventure is – while important – just another day at the office. He’s not going to grow and change over the course of the game. He’s certainly not going to become friendlier or have any deep, introspective moments. Death, simply put, is Death.
While Death doesn’t really grow through the game, he does have a well-defined personality. He’s cold, borderline-sociopathic, and very businesslike for a character who is essentially just trying to clear his brother’s name. You can tell that the game came on the heels of a more-popular God of War series, as Death is quite a bit like Kratos in his bloody-minded quest. He just does things with a total lack of emotion at best, and a strong sense of annoyance at worst.
Death, despite his relative lack of growth, is still a character well-suited for this game. He certainly pushes through all of the terrible things that happen with the game without breaking down or really even breaking his stride. This puts him in the rare company of heroes like Kratos or Master Chief, allowing the player to inhabit a powerful cipher without having to think too much about his motivations. Death is certainly a fine character to headline this game.
The plot of Darksiders 2 takes place before and during the plot of the first Darksiders game. In the first game, Horseman of the Apocalypse War is wrongfully accused of kick-starting the Apocalypse early, forcing him to try to find out exactly what caused the end of the world. Darksiders 2 casts the player in the role of his brother Death, who must try to clear War’s name.
Like the previous game, this iteration of Darksiders sends the player through the worlds of the series’ unique cosmology. Death himself is forced to undertake a series of tasks that are both designed to clear the name of War and fight off those who would benefit from the early Apocalypse. Along the way, Death encounters some of the characters from the first game as well as a number of characters who were only mentioned.
As one might expect from this type of game, Death is also sent on a number of side-missions that either increase his power or allow him access to more powerful gear. While these missions rarely impact the main story, they do help to flesh out the world of the game.
Most of the missions surround fetching specific items from either the overworld or from dungeons. Getting to these items almost always involves defeating a boss character, generally using either new gear or new techniques that were featured in that particular world. In this way, the game is more similar to classics like Legend of Zelda than anything else.
Stripped of the storyline, the game is really about going through more and more complex levels and figuring out highly-stylized types of combat. There are also a number of very basic puzzles in the game, most of which are solvable through basic logic and some clever usage of Death’s abilities.
DLC & Expansion Packs
Darksiders 2 features three pieces of DLC, all of which can be considered extensions of the story. The three packs – Argul’s Tomb, the Abyssal Forge, and Demon Lord Belial – each add about an hour to the overall game, along with the a few new dungeons, new armor, and a few new challenges. It’s hard to call any of the DLC a necessity, though – each merely brings more of the same to the game.
The good news is that all three DLCs are included in the Deathfinitive Edition of the game. They’re decent enough when you don’t have to pay extra and they do a fair bit to pad out the game. If you are to buy any of the DLCs separately, the best of the bunch is Demon Lord Belial – it does play an important role in the fiction of the Darksiders Universe.
Darksiders 2 is a game that was clearly influenced by some of the greats in the industry, but that also managed to carve out a unique niche with its compelling atmosphere. While the main character might not be the most exciting in gaming, he’s definitely a good fit for the game itself. With a decent enough story and some wonderful combat, it’s definitely a great way to spend a long weekend.
Have you played Darksiders 2? What did you think of the game? Are you looking forward to the third entry in the series? Let us know what you think!