RIP Vigil Games

While the curtain hasn't fallen with certainty yet for Vigil Games, it seems unlikely that they will be bought if no one at the auction was willing to bite. Vigil isn't the first studio to fall, and it certainly won't be the last, given the increasingly oppressive climate of AAA development. Budgets are ever-increasing, development teams get bigger, and publishers are only investing in sure-fire hits because the risk is too great, and there's no longer a market for mid-tier games. The competition at the $60 retail level of games is fiercer than it's ever been. Darksiders 2 didn't do the business THQ needed it to do, their next game is a ways off, and thus, in the current climate, Vigil probably isn't a smart buy for most, if not all, publishers.

It's always sad when a developer closes its doors and people lose their jobs. It saddened me when Black Rock, developer of the criminally underrated Split/Second, closed its doors in 2011. It disgusted me when Activision closed down Bizarre Creations after making them pump out a crappy 007 game that clearly wasn't in their wheelhouse. But no studio closure breaks my heart like Vigil's. Here's a studio with a unique creative voice, an identity, tons of talent and passion that just bursts through the surface of their games, and nobody wants them. Because sadly, Zelda-like fantasy action-RPG's aren't the hot ticket they ought to be. Here's a studio further breaking down genre walls and building out a franchise with a ton of potential. Remember seeing the ending of Darksiders? Remember all the possibilities and potential it heralded?

I'll be the first to admit Darksiders 2 was a bit of a let-down for me. I'm 20 hours in and haven't finished it yet, due to other games coming out, some pacing issues and a story that was going nowhere, and going there slowly. But even still, mechanically it's a great game. It looks great, it's got a killer soundtrack by the fantastic Jesper Kyd, punchy, satisfying combat, and that Zelda/Metroidvania feel I wish there was more of in modern games. And all this talented group got to make was two Darksiders games. I feel like, had this group come together 20 years ago with the same boundary-breaking sensibilities, they might be regarded as one of the all-time greatest studios now. Vigil splitting feels like one of my favorite bands breaking up. Makes me wonder if Joe Mad saw the writing on the wall when he left the studio last year.

There is hope, slim though it might be. Platinum Games has expressed some interest in the Darksiders IP, and while it certainly would be cool to see what they would do with it, it's not the loss of the IP I'm mourning so much as the loss of the studio that created it. There's also an off-chance some company or publisher could swoop in at the last moment to buy Vigil, but truth be told, I don't see it happening. And that really is a crying shame.

Farewell, Vigil. You went before your time.

9 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by Oni

While the curtain hasn't fallen with certainty yet for Vigil Games, it seems unlikely that they will be bought if no one at the auction was willing to bite. Vigil isn't the first studio to fall, and it certainly won't be the last, given the increasingly oppressive climate of AAA development. Budgets are ever-increasing, development teams get bigger, and publishers are only investing in sure-fire hits because the risk is too great, and there's no longer a market for mid-tier games. The competition at the $60 retail level of games is fiercer than it's ever been. Darksiders 2 didn't do the business THQ needed it to do, their next game is a ways off, and thus, in the current climate, Vigil probably isn't a smart buy for most, if not all, publishers.

It's always sad when a developer closes its doors and people lose their jobs. It saddened me when Black Rock, developer of the criminally underrated Split/Second, closed its doors in 2011. It disgusted me when Activision closed down Bizarre Creations after making them pump out a crappy 007 game that clearly wasn't in their wheelhouse. But no studio closure breaks my heart like Vigil's. Here's a studio with a unique creative voice, an identity, tons of talent and passion that just bursts through the surface of their games, and nobody wants them. Because sadly, Zelda-like fantasy action-RPG's aren't the hot ticket they ought to be. Here's a studio further breaking down genre walls and building out a franchise with a ton of potential. Remember seeing the ending of Darksiders? Remember all the possibilities and potential it heralded?

I'll be the first to admit Darksiders 2 was a bit of a let-down for me. I'm 20 hours in and haven't finished it yet, due to other games coming out, some pacing issues and a story that was going nowhere, and going there slowly. But even still, mechanically it's a great game. It looks great, it's got a killer soundtrack by the fantastic Jesper Kyd, punchy, satisfying combat, and that Zelda/Metroidvania feel I wish there was more of in modern games. And all this talented group got to make was two Darksiders games. I feel like, had this group come together 20 years ago with the same boundary-breaking sensibilities, they might be regarded as one of the all-time greatest studios now. Vigil splitting feels like one of my favorite bands breaking up. Makes me wonder if Joe Mad saw the writing on the wall when he left the studio last year.

There is hope, slim though it might be. Platinum Games has expressed some interest in the Darksiders IP, and while it certainly would be cool to see what they would do with it, it's not the loss of the IP I'm mourning so much as the loss of the studio that created it. There's also an off-chance some company or publisher could swoop in at the last moment to buy Vigil, but truth be told, I don't see it happening. And that really is a crying shame.

Farewell, Vigil. You went before your time.

Posted by Rowr

It's hard for me to comment on darksiders 2 since it's still sitting on my hard drive as a big clunky ugly port that wont run nicely at anything over 720p. Such an insult to my PC that i can't play it without feeling unnaturally angry.

Despite that it looks fun, i appreciate in theory what they have done and enjoyed the first game. Definitely a developer with talent that i would love to see more from, i really don't understand why they haven't been picked up. Here's hoping someone might jump in last minute. I'm not sure what the financial state of square enix is but they are the best fit i can come up with.

Posted by TheSouthernDandy

I really hope these guys find a home. That ain't no way for a quality studio to go out.

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Posted by GetEveryone

@Rowr said:

It's hard for me to comment on darksiders 2 since it's still sitting on my hard drive as a big clunky ugly port that wont run nicely at anything over 720p. Such an insult to my PC that i can't play it without feeling unnaturally angry.

Is this an issue with your PC? Any bugs I encountered were quickly mopped up and the PC port ended up being pretty great.

Posted by TheSilentGod

I wholeheartedly agree, Vigil are one of the brightest young development studios out there and it is tragic that there seems to be no lifeline for them. Darksiders was a great new series, and despite narrative failings I absolutely love the second game. This series deserved to do better.

Posted by Rowr

@GetEveryone said:

@Rowr said:

It's hard for me to comment on darksiders 2 since it's still sitting on my hard drive as a big clunky ugly port that wont run nicely at anything over 720p. Such an insult to my PC that i can't play it without feeling unnaturally angry.

Is this an issue with your PC? Any bugs I encountered were quickly mopped up and the PC port ended up being pretty great.

I dunno i ended up picking it up recently on sale since i decided to hold back at launch due to the screen tearing issues etc.

I think i did a bit of searching to see if it was something specific and got nothing. It just runs like an absolute dog at 1080 and it looks way to much like ass at 720 to be acceptable. Given what my PC is capable of it makes no sense that is should struggle.

Updated my drivers recently so who knows i might give it another try eventually. DMC just came out though....

Posted by Wampa1

As someone who loved the core concepts of Zelda but could never seem to get into it Darksiders II was a blessing. The addition of mechanics from my favorite genre (ARPG'S) sealed the deal. It's also got some brilliant art design, the castle being pulled by two giant skeletal snakes? Amazing.

Posted by jakob187

@GetEveryone said:

@Rowr said:

It's hard for me to comment on darksiders 2 since it's still sitting on my hard drive as a big clunky ugly port that wont run nicely at anything over 720p. Such an insult to my PC that i can't play it without feeling unnaturally angry.

Is this an issue with your PC? Any bugs I encountered were quickly mopped up and the PC port ended up being pretty great.

This. I've had no issues with it on PC, and it looks quite nice and plays at a solid 60+ fps.

The bigger issue with that game is the fact that I've been stuck in the same room for months without a clue what the fuck I'm supposed to be doing, and I refuse to use a goddamn walkthrough. The first game had excellent scale to it, so I don't understand why they felt the need to make it bigger.

Also, starting out in a NOT-modern-city-ravaged-by-apocalypse setting also kind of stole some of the luster away for me.

Nonetheless, I'm sure that Vigil will get bought, and if they don't, there's the possibility that they could transition into a smaller studio or (dare I say it) go the Kickstarter route.

Posted by Turtlebird95

Vigil is done for. Hopefully the Darksiders IP finds a good buyer.

Posted by Equal_Opportunity_Destroyer497

Couldn't have said it better. Despite my personal disappointment in Darksiders 2, I really thought Vigil had the most potential out of the handful of new-ish studios. I just played through the first Darksiders again and it is truly great and, with that feeling fresh in my mind, it drastically increases my disappointment that Vigil didn't get picked up. I don't think we've seen the last of the Darksiders IP but I will be right surprised if Vigil develops it.