Giant Bomb Review

53 Comments

Darksiders Review

4
  • X360

Darksiders pulls together concepts from a ton of different games, but the way it pieces these things together manages to feel exciting.


Blades will bleed. 
Darksiders is an action-adventure that takes inspiration from several different video game sources, culling concepts like Portal's portal gun or the basic lock-on style shooting from Panzer Dragoon and placing them into game that most directly resembles the structure of a modern  Legend of Zelda game that comes complete with a boomerang, a hookshot, and a horse that helps you get around more easily. It's interesting because the elements that come from other games are overt, core parts of the game, rather than subtle bites of a more-famous franchise. Despite the way that Darksiders makes you think of some other game at every turn, it doesn't feel like some copycat piece of trash. Instead, all this "borrowing" results in a game that, at times, feels a whole lot like Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series. And it's done well enough that folks looking for a Zelda-style adventure won't be disappointed.

That's not to say that Darksiders deals in fairies, elves, and bright colors. You play as War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. At the outset, War is called into action in the middle of a raging battle between Heaven and Hell. But the rest of the horsemen are nowhere to be found. War rides alone as humanity is decimated, and somehow the whole mess gets pinned on him. With Heaven's warriors and Hell's demons out to get him, War sets out to figure out how the armies were called into battle and, eventually, clear his name of any wrongdoing. The story lurches a bit in spots, especially near the beginning of the game, but as more and more blanks get filled in, Darksiders' narrative gets stronger and stronger, culminating in a conclusion that answers all of the questions asked during the previous 15 hours while also setting things up for what would probably make for a pretty cool sequel.

The structure of Darksiders has War traveling across larger overworld-type areas on his way to temple-like areas, which offer various types of puzzle solving, new items, and big boss battles. Along the way, you'll experience plenty of combat. Darksiders has a fairly well-developed combat system that'll certainly reward you for just mashing buttons, but you can exchange the game's currency (souls, naturally) for additional attacks and weapons. The extra moves let you execute dash attacks, pop-up attacks that set up lengthy air combos, and so on. It's not entirely unlike God of War or Devil May Cry, if I may cram yet another game name or two into this review. The combat ends up feeling really satisfying as you get better and better at the additional moves, but the defensive end of the fighting, which lets you block, counter, and dash all by using the right bumper in various ways, doesn't feel as responsive as it should, making it tough to act with precision when you're being swarmed by angry demons.

As the game sends you off in the direction of big boss battles, you'll occasionally encounter dungeon-like areas, which offer new ways to impede your progress. Some are merely combat challenges, which trap you in specific areas until you've defeated all of the enemies. Others are puzzle-oriented, so you'll move some blocks around to reach higher areas or employ some of your additional gear to light torches, swing from one hookshot target to the next, or trigger items that slow time for a brief period, which allows you to quickly run across a worm-infested area without getting swallowed whole. You'll acquire new items in these areas which will invariably pay off when facing the boss of that spot. The bosses, predictably, adhere to the rule of threes... you know, just like that Nintendo series we were talking about earlier?

Shields will shatter! 
Darksiders has extremely thick, tough-looking characters. War stomps around the landscape and moves like a serious bad-ass, while demons and other nefarious creatures slink and creep around like the scum that they are and the angels try to fly just out of reach of War's huge sword. There's also a lot of great facial animation to be found. Samael, a demon with which you have a tenuous alliance through much of the game, is a twisted creature, but the detail in his face still manages to convey some effective emotion. The environments look a little too clean in some spots, but overall, the world is full of nice-looking variety that makes each new area a treat to see. On the technical side, the game maintains a good frame rate, but the Xbox 360 version is saddled with an aggressive amount of screen tearing that starts to get in the way as you spend more and more time with the game.

The visuals are backed up by a solid soundtrack and, for the most part, some outstanding voice acting. War maintains a slow, measured tone throughout the game that further establishes him as a guy that is not to be messed with. War's constant companion is The Watcher, an evil-sounding demon who is there to make sure that War performs his assigned task. The Watcher, voiced by Mark Hamill, sounds like a cross between Starscream and The Joker, and I found the voice to be the most grating thing about the entire game. The Watcher is designed to serve as a Navi or Midna-like character, if you'll forgive yet another direct mention of the Zelda franchise. But the "advice" he offers is never especially useful and he comes across as very repetitive.

While you can explain a lot of things about Darksiders by listing off other games that are directly referenced during the adventure, the game doesn't feel like some simple clone. If you like Nintendo's Zelda games and want to see an altered, darker take on its concepts, portions of Darksiders will absolutely blow you away. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
53 Comments
  • 53 results
  • 1
  • 2
Posted by stratzilla

4/5? feels good man

Posted by MildMolasses

I'm really digging this game. I don't know if it hurts or helps my enjoyment, but since I haven't played a Zelda game since Link's Awakening, I'm not hampered by constantly noticing the ripped-off elements
Online
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

This will probably be a game I pick up when it gets discounted.  As it stands, looks interesting but not enough to warrant a purchase right now.
Moderator
Posted by Seedofpower

Well, this is a surprise to me. I just might rent this.

Posted by CitizenJP

Hell yeah thats what I'm talkin about! I love this game!

Posted by JJOR64

I'm thinking of buying this game now.  After hearing Jeff talking about it on the Bombcast, the game sounds awesome.

Posted by lilarchie232

I get the feeling that Jeff's favorite word to describe games is exciting.
 
But this game looks pretty cool, might pick it up when there's some downtime in the release schedule.

Posted by DanielJW

Love this game! :) 
 
I've taken a short break to play my brand new copy of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, but I'm certainly eager to get back to it! 

Posted by rjayb89

Jeff is scaring me with his extremely high praise on this weeks bombcast.

Online
Posted by Apathylad

This and Bayonetta are on my wishlist. I don't think I'll have the cash right now to buy them though. :(

Posted by Kraznor

"But the "advice" he offers is never especially useful and he comes across as very repetitive." Sooooo, EXACTLY like Navi?

Posted by InFamous91

awesome

Posted by TaccyP

Didn't really care about this game before, but this review makes me want to check it out.

Posted by MeatSim

Once this game hits the bargain bin I am getting it.

Posted by handlas

Was expecting a 3.  Pleasant surprise.  Went to rent it today and it was checked out...oh well.  Rented Batman instead since I never got to play it.

Posted by Mr_eX

Darksiders is one of my favorite games this gen. I can't wait to see what the developer does next.

Posted by trimon

yay :D It's great to hear about unexpected winners

Posted by Video_Game_King

Portal+Panzer Dragoon+Zelda=*faints due to how awesome that is in every way ever*

Posted by Mezmero

Great review.  I'mactually suprised that you didnt find it as middling as I initially thought, but I'm glad to hear that the game turned out alright.  After seeing that quick look, the asthetic and gameplay reminded me of the Maximo games on PS2, but I'm sure there are plenty game references to go around.  All things said I do hope to check this game out whenever I get a chance.  Keep on doing what you do because its awesome.

Posted by FunExplosions

Wondering if the PS3 version has the same screen-tearing issues, 'cause I was thinking of waiting to get this after I buy my 360...
 
Sounds awesome, though.

Posted by Dan_CiTi

HEAVEN OR HELL?

Posted by handlas
@FunExplosions said:
" Wondering if the PS3 version has the same screen-tearing issues, 'cause I was thinking of waiting to get this after I buy my 360...  Sounds awesome, though. "
I've read that it doesn't or at least isn't as bad.  But they are suppose to patch teh 360 version to specifically fix this issue...I thought. 
Posted by OneKillWonder_

Great review, Jeff. My thoughts on this game exactly.  I had a blast with this game (until I went back to try collect everything that I missed) and I can't wait for the potential sequel. Darksiders was a great way to start off the new year.

Posted by Seppli

Good, fair review. I like your style Jeff.

Posted by Ghost_of_Perdition

Just bought it this weekend after hearing all the praise and watching that quick look. I'm enjoying every minute of it. Definitely a great way to start 2010.

Posted by DrLove

great review jeff glad you liked it.  game borrow from each other alll the time, but if its good, then its good. 
 
 
love the detail in this review.
Posted by mordukai
@FunExplosions said:
" Wondering if the PS3 version has the same screen-tearing issues, 'cause I was thinking of waiting to get this after I buy my 360...  Sounds awesome, though. "
No it does not. Solid all the way through. 
Posted by Kirathian

Yay good score!  
 
GO BUY THIS PEOPLE!

Posted by jvsexy

fair review

Posted by Yummylee

Wants this very much.
Posted by Kohe321

Awesome review, I'm probably going to get this.

Posted by WinterSnowblind
@FunExplosions said:
"Wondering if the PS3 version has the same screen-tearing issues, 'cause I was thinking of waiting to get this after I buy my 360...  Sounds awesome, though. "

The PS3 version doesn't suffer from screen tearing, but is capped at 30fps, where as the 360 version usually has a smoother frame rate.  Seems this was accidental though, they never applied the cap to the 360 version which causes the tearing problems.  The patch is supposed to fix this, hopefully it'll come soon. 
 
Really nice to see the game get a good review though after the QL was rather unfairly negative because of them focusing on an early part of the game, before most of the mechanics come into play.
Posted by Rhaknar

im on my way to the third dungeon (gimme Ruin baby!) with about...10 hours in, and im fucking loving the shit out of the game, glad to see Jeff liked it too :D

Posted by Rhaknar
@WinterSnowblind said:
" @FunExplosions said:
"Wondering if the PS3 version has the same screen-tearing issues, 'cause I was thinking of waiting to get this after I buy my 360...  Sounds awesome, though. "
The PS3 version doesn't suffer from screen tearing, but is capped at 30fps, where as the 360 version usually has a smoother frame rate.  Seems this was accidental though, they never applied the cap to the 360 version which causes the tearing problems.  The patch is supposed to fix this, hopefully it'll come soon.  Really nice to see the game get a good review though after the QL was rather unfairly negative because of them focusing on an early part of the game, before most of the mechanics come into play. "
i can confirm that the ps3 version has no screen tearing at all. it does have some frame rate drops, in some areas its quite noticiable, but nothing that ruined it for me
Posted by Linearskillz

I'm happy to see a positive review for this game after that rather ho-hum quick look. This game is awesome!  I'm also please that it got the same score as Bayonetta.

Posted by Hamz

Started this up last night, loving it so far. Great review.
 
@FunExplosions:
PS3 version is, technically anyway, bug free. Although a patch for the 360 issues is meant to be on its way.

Posted by JokerClown88

As I have never ever ever played a Zelda game, Darksiders is amazing to me in every way.
Posted by Noxpectius

Great review. I agree on the score. The game is allright while your playing it, but its honestly not something that I'll remember a few years from now. I wish it had more backstory, stuff in the world, and that they did more with War as a character. Overall, the game never Wowed Me, it was just Ok all the way through. Hell, even the puzzles weren't that interesting or thought provoking. Though I did like that the dungeons were Pretty linear, so I never had to go of and look at the other side of it for a key. Anyway, it was a nice surprise, but doesn't hold a candle to Bayonetta.

Posted by Hyperfludd

My mind has really been attacking me to pick up this game. I guess I might just have to listen!

Posted by Media_Master

Has everything I like in a game.

Posted by Yatesy

@lilarchie232: 
 
"I get the feeling that Jeff's favorite word to describe games is exciting."
 
That and "nefarious".

Posted by TheKing

Worth every penny.

Posted by Fawk

Could you actually review a multi-platform game playing it on the PS3 for once?  It's tiring seeing you always play the 360 version.

Posted by KinjiroSSD
@Fawk said:
" Could you actually review a multi-platform game playing it on the PS3 for once?  It's tiring seeing you always play the 360 version. "
LOL keep dreaming
Posted by Fei

I am in love with this game. I havent played a Zelda since Link to the Past on the SNES (I went with PS1 and missed the N64->GC->Wii stuff) but it feels fantastic and refreshing. I sat down and could not stop playing it until I 1000/1000'd it within 3 days. I love the combat, the design and the voice acting is way above par. Highly recommend this game as its been a love affair for me.

Posted by Sweep

How long is this game? I have memories of the Zelda games taking me weeks to fully explore and progress through, is Darksiders more fast-paced?

Moderator
Edited by CMcCon342

I've been loving the game. Just finished the worm-world. Yes, the structure borrows heavily from Zelda. But I think it improves on it exponentially by not having a boring first 5 hours. I think having a new compelling story and full voice-acting is a huge jump over all of the latest Zelda games with repetitive stories and text-only approach.
 
Also, the combat is way way way way way way better than Zelda. 
 
If anything I'd say it feels like God of War with a exploratory Zelda structure. I'm 7 or 8 hours in and I have a ton of cool stuff and my combat moves are awesome. If I was 7 or 8 hours into Zelda, I'd be lucky if I could afford a bomb bag at this point.
 
I would say flat out that the game is more enjoyable than Twilight Princess, but I have never been a huge fan of the Zelda games - as you may have noticed, I think they are paced far too slowly.

Posted by trav3ler

Hmm.  Would buy if Mass Effect 2 wasn't coming out in 3 weeks, and that's all I can afford.  But it's on my list now.  I was expecting a 2 or 3 after the quicklook, honestly.

Posted by ptys

Love the end bit... was that Vinny's wit? Jeff is the first reviewer to actually make the game look good... when you want results you have to go to the best!

Posted by Dan_CiTi

I can't wait for Darksiders 2: Dark Hero.

  • 53 results
  • 1
  • 2