Darksiders in a nutshell...
Darksiders is a Zelda-type game presented in a colorful dark fantasy comic artstyle. It has tasteful amounts of blood and gore, without overdoing it. In addition to classic dungeoneering and exploration, Darksiders brings a fully fledged combat and upgrade system to the table. Much like modern straightforward Hack 'n Slay games, such as God of War and Devil May Cry.
Darksiders delivers almost perfectly on its premise.
Dungeons. They are big. Up to 5 hours of dungeoneering joy each. They are full of demanding and fair puzzles, as well as countless well hidden secrets. There are lots of exciting and hard combat encounters too (I played Darksiders on Apocalyptic).
Combat. Mechanics are fairly deep and offer the full functionality of modern Hack 'n Slash games such as God of War. There's block, (air-)dash and counter for defenses and a variety of combos, single strikes and area of effect attacks. You can juggle, charge, pushback, knockback and knockdown enemies. Every enemy can be brutally executed if weakend. Very weak enemies such as zombies, bats and spiders can be executed right away.
Weapons. War wields a sword, scythe and a pair of 'tremor gloves'. Weapons can gain up to 4 levels. They gain experience by getting used in combat. The sword is the most versatile and straight forward. The scythe is all about area of effect damage and crowd control. The gloves shine at pushback, knockback and knockdown of strong enemies. War wields a gun too - it's primary use is mounted combat.
Enchantments. Add a nice graphical effect to your weapons. From burning fire to gushing blood to icy glow. They are one type of loot found in secret hidden chests. Thare are about 10 normal enchantments and 4 legendary enchantments, which are especially well hidden. Some enchanments have passive effects. War always profits from passive effects, even if the enchanment isn't slottet to a weapon. Looks great. Feels great. Good fucking loot!
Vulgrim. He's a trader. His payment are souls. He unlocks and upgrades moves for War's weapons. He teaches War new Wrath-Magic. Has consumables in stock. Vulgrim serves as quicktravel hub too.
Souls. Currency. Life. Wrath. To buy and upgrade things. To replenish life. To cast wrath magic. Every living and inanimate thing has soul. As long as it can be crushed, War will harness them for his quest for revenge. There are never enough souls. Unless you backtrack through the whole game to find every last hidden secret - you won't be able to upgrade everything.
Wrath Magic. Powered by yellow glowing souls. Four styles. An offensive fire aura setting closeby enemies on fire, a defensive stoneskin spell reducing incoming damage and boosting physical damage output, an AoE attack with magic blades piercing through the ground all around War and an AoE 'poison snake' tracking enemies and dealing massive amounts of damage but is very expensive to use. Wrath is quickly spent and slow to recover. Personally, I opted for Stoneskin all the time. It offers the most bang for my bucks. Given the right upgrades for the glaive, you can keep up Stoneskin for minutes at a time.
Chaos From. 'I Win Button'. War turns into pure chaos. It looks like a Balrog from the Lord of the Rings movies. War is invincible in this form and deals great damage. It's unbalanced. It's too easy to fill up the chaos meter. Once it's full, War can shift into his unstoppable Chaos Form. Almost always, when I was in a thight pinch, Chaos Form did save the day. I'd rather generate more Wrath than Chaos and use the more mondane wrath spells more often.
Ruin. It's the name of War's horse. He's a Rider of the Apocalypse afterall. It's the most awesome horse ever created for a videogame. It looks like it eats other horses for sport. Probably got Epona's entire family in his stomach right now. Anyways - Ruin is badass and so is the mounted combat. There's bossbattles and jousting-style overworld combat as well as some regular areas, which allow for the use of Ruin. Best mounted combat I've played up to now. I love how the game slows down time as my blade connects with an enemy. Very rewarding. The controls are really thight.
Gadgets. You'll have many at the end of your journey. All of them serve as means of exploration and dungeoneering. Some of them are useful in combat too, like the hookshot, the glaive and the horn. Especially the glaive is invaluable in combat. Most gadgets will see a lot of use throught the adventure. They are very well implemented.
Controls. All these mechanics, weapons and gadgets leave the control-scheme somewhat crowded. Especially the Block/Dash/Counter button is somewhat hampered by it's multi-purpose utility. Block feels off. Often, War doesn't go back into a defensive block position after a dash or moving around - not without an extra buttonpush. Other than the usual camera problems, which aren't too bad, that's my main gripe with the game. The block/dash/counter button doesn't always do it's job reliably.
Story. It is relatively thin, but of revenge in biblical proportions and very epic. 'Nuff said. There's about 30 minutes of cutscenes overall. I like the story and the characters. Darksiders has a highly rewarding ending, which also fuels my lust for a possible Darksiders 2. Oh please - pretty please - can I have a Darksiders 2... and 3? I love the premise for the next Darksiders game already.
- Play Darksiders on 'Apocalyptic' difficulty - or do you want to play a buttonmasher instead of a 'Ninja Gaiden' (Acolythe) level combat experience?
- Be sure to do some 'Metroidvania' style backtracking! There is some 'special' fun to be had with that.
- Locate the Legendary Weapons Enchantment, which has the passive bonus of showing every hidden secret treasure's location on the map.
- Enjoy yourself! Take your time. You'll get about 5-7 great gaming sessions out of Darksiders!
I love Darksiders.
It's the Zelda I always dreamed of. It looks just how I wish Zelda would. Combat is just as tight, enticing and brutal as I need it to be. The puzzling feels fresh, demanding and fair (The Portal Gun is a Blast). Mounted combat has never been realized so well. The bosses are grand and visually very impressive. Some bosses are hard, but always fair. The game is expertly paced. Darksiders offers a steady stream of progression and reward throughout the 20+ hours long campaign. It's obvious that Vigil games loves Darksiders too...
...and so should you!