Impressions so far (long post plus long video)

#1 Posted by D_W (1351 posts) -

I picked up Darksiders 2 a couple days ago on PC. I have played about 6 hours into so far and decided to make a video about.

  But! it ended up being a lot longer than intended so let me sum up.
The dungeon design is often incredibly clever and well planned out. Many of them are based around the idea of circular or looping design philosophy. Meaning that as the player gets deeper in the dungeon they'll open up or discover short cuts to prevent backtracking. Somethings it's as small as a single room, other times it is as large as every path of a dungeon leading back to the entrance. It's not all really convenient for the player but also makes these ruined places seem like they could have once been functional buildings. 
As of what I've encountered so far, the puzzles have been very simple and far from challenging. This isn't much of an issue however since they've seem to have adopted some great ideas from the Portal franchise. In particular the dotted lines from a button to what it activates. This is the right thing to steal from Portal. It saves the players the time they would be running around the map looking for what activates what. I do hope that there are more advanced puzzles later on however. 
Traversal is a big part of this game as to be expected. It is very deliberate. Meaning that if the designers didn't want to you jump there or get to an area in a certain way, then they have done just about everything to prevent you from doing something in a way different from how they envisioned it. This can make transversing an area incredibly predictable. While it is general very fluid, there's an odd precision necessary sometimes. Case in point. There are these wooden supports in some walls where you can grab onto. You can do a wall run from them but you have to be sure you're at the very end of the side otherwise you'll run up the wall instead over across it despite the character animation facing the direction you intended to run when you press the button. Oh man that was an awkward sentence.  
Death moves pretty slow as well. The environments are huge and it can take a couple minutes travel just to go from shop to shop. This game would have really benefited from a sprint button.
This awkwardness with the controls is found in the menus as well. Using a gamepad you cannot navigate the inventory with the d-pad. You have to use the left analog stick. I don't understand the reasoning behind this. Also the inventory doesn't wrap. Meaning that if you're on one edge you can't press against that edge to jump to the other side of the menu.
 In the map menu you have to use the right stick to navigate the map, while the left stick does nothing and the d-pad controls what floor you're looking at. Looking at the world map while in a dungeon or town also appears to be bugged on the PC with a gamepad. No matter how many times I press "A" nothing happens. Fast travel is also a bit awkward. There are areas where you can't fast travel but there's not real indication why. Also the markers where you can fast travel to are often is odd areas and certain places on the map don't have fast travel points at all even after they have been visited!
Graphically the game is fine. It doesn't have the highest quality graphics, but it all looks fine while playing and the art style can be comic-book-esque and pretty. There are a couple of issues with graphical function however. This is something that seems to go unnoticed. When I say "graphical function"  I mean how well the graphics communicate the abstraction of code to the player. Basically how easy it is to tell what's happening on screen. While the game generally does a good job of this there are times when it fails miserably. Especially during large combat sections in small rooms. 
The game features colored tiered loot for whatever reason. Of what I played so far, it is completely anemic and adds little to the game other than to provide a way to make money quickly. The most cynical bits of me suspect that the end result of their loot system just artificially extend the game by creating "loot checks." But I don't think that was the intention of the inclusion of loot. A character action that relies on the rhythmic button presses and quick reflexives aka challenges the player's physical skill doesn't really mix with the RPG ideas of simulated skill that the concept of loot and leveling evolved from.
So far I find Darksiders 2 to be a flawed but fun game and have been enjoying my time with it so far despite my criticisms.

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