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Review: Darksiders

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Review: Darksiders

By Utkarsh W aka Tyler

 

Darksiders isn’t a very original game. Take, for example, the Zelda-like dungeons and equipment, the God of War style finishers, the Soul Reaver-like wings, or the most blatant example a Portal gun that creates, well, portals… I could go on. But that’s really not the point of this review. Sure, the game borrows a lot from other titles, but it does so rather well. It won’t have you screaming “bloody rip-off!” every time you come across a familiar gameplay mechanic, instead it will have you thinking “how do I cross that bloody chasm over there so I can get to that treasure chest?”. Darksiders is the perfect example of why there is nothing wrong with borrowing ideas as long as you make a great game to go along with it. This first effort from developer Vigil Games is surely a promising one and is guaranteed to leave an impression.

 

You are War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, a typical brooding anti-hero archetype who doesn’t like to take sides and carries a rather large sword. While you don’t need to have the Book of Revelations memorised, some basic knowledge would help you understand the setting of the game. A premature war between the forces of heaven and hell causes the destruction of mankind. The Charred Council, which acts as a mediator of sorts, sends War to bring order and “restore the balance” between the two sides.

 

With the other Horsemen MIA, War somehow gets framed for causing the death of the archangel Abaddon during a battle with an elder demon and ultimately causing the apocalypse. He is then stripped of his powers and is about to be executed, but is given one last chance by his masters to return to the demon-infested Earth and find and punish the one actually responsible for the early arrival of the apocalypse. All of this forms the obligatory opening level where you start with all your powers and abilities and are then left with none, back at square one. Then it’s time for War to get it all back while killing anyone who stands in his way; angel or demon.

 

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For a game that lets you play as “War”, Darksiders is a surprisingly different game than you’d expect. Combat plays a large part in the proceedings, but it’s still more of an adventure game on the lines of Legend of Zelda than a simple hack-n-slash-fest. In fact, it’s very difficult to leave out the Zelda comparisons while describing the game considering the number of common gameplay elements. The game world is broken into a smaller areas (or dungeons in the traditional sense) which require a combination of exploration, puzzle-solving and combat in order to progress.

 

As expected, most areas are sealed off until you find the right equipment to get past them along with a lot of block-pushing, lever-pulling and switch-throwing. The level design is consistently good with each area getting progressively more challenging than the last. All major areas end with a massive boss fight that usually requires a specific strategy to beat and not simply combat prowess. Some of the boss fights are genuinely thrilling and are some of the high points of the game.

 

Accompanying War on his quest is The Watcher, an annoying demonic bastard sent by the Council to keep War on a short leash. He often drops hints during some of the tougher puzzles and boss fights, much like Zelda’s Navi, only more annoying. But these hints are few and far between and most of the time the game lets you figure out the puzzles by yourself.

 

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That’s one of the things that I really loved about Darksiders. It’s a nice throwback to games of the past. Most games these days tend to be overly friendly by dropping hints and tips around every corner, but not this game. It rarely ever tells you what you need to do. It can be considerably challenging at times and some of the more devious puzzles do require patience and some out-of-the-box thinking. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s by no means a difficult game. It’s simply one which encourages you to think instead of following a set path.

 

Darksiders is largely a linear game, but much like any ‘metroidvania’-style action-adventure game (like the recent Batman: Arkham Asylum or Shadow Complex), the level design encourages you to backtrack to earlier levels in order to enter areas that you could not reach earlier. However, the game itself never really makes all of this obvious. It’s your job to recognise patterns in the level design and remember them. These hidden areas typically house treasure chests, which contain valuable collectibles ranging from items which can boost War’s health and wrath (which powers his magic gauge) and pieces of a special unlockable armour, among other things. Although these are entirely optional, backtracking and getting these items does come in handy later on in the game when the battles start getting tougher.

 

The combat itself plays out like any other hack-n-slash title. War is armed with his trusty sword Chaoseater and can also use a couple of secondary weapons such as a gauntlet, a scythe and even a handgun. Each weapon can be levelled up and fitted with enchantments that you’ll find throughout the game. Some of the combat moves are quite reminiscent of Devil May Cry (complete with a temporary ‘demon’ mode) with God of War style finishing moves thrown into the mix. Enemies show a button prompt on their head once you’ve done enough damage. Hitting the button triggers a gory finisher where War mercilessly finishes off the enemy. It’s quite a lot of fun watching him chop off a giant demon’s head after climbing onto its back or vertically slitting a worm-like mini-boss from top to bottom.

 

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In addition to the basic combat moves, War can also use four types of “wrath” powers, which are essentially the game’s magical abilities. There’s a decent amount of variation in the enemies and mini-bosses, both big and small, that you’ll face throughout the game. Some of them require you to evade attacks effectively as a single hit can take a significant chunk of War’s health bar. Yet the combat always remains accessible and never gets overwhelming enough to cause frustration.

 

Killing enemies, opening chests and breaking objects nets you various types of souls. These range from green healing souls, yellow souls which boost your magic meter and finally blue souls which are the game’s currency. In almost every major area of the game you’ll find the demon Vulgrim, who in addition to providing fast travel services via inter-dimensional “serpent holes”, also doubles up as the game’s merchant. Much like every other hack-n-slash game, you can buy new moves and abilities and also upgrade your existing ones. New weapons, enchantments and other supporting items can also be purchased at the cost of a few blue souls. You’ll generally find souls in plenty (especially if you keep an eye out for chests) and will be able to buy pretty much all that you would need throughout the game.

 

As the story progresses, War eventually reunites with his fiery steed Ruin. In some of the game’s larger areas, Ruin can be summoned at any time to cover long distances quickly, and I don’t think at this point I even need to bring up Zelda again. War can fight on horseback and his attacks do far more damage while riding. There are a couple of sequences that involve fighting on horseback that are quite memorable and a lot of fun to play through. There are also a few instances where War gets a chance to wield a heavy gun-like weapon dropped by certain enemies. At this point the game effectively turns into a third-person shooter. Using these guns and blasting through hordes of enemies is genuinely fun. Throw in an on-rails flying section (reminiscent of Panzer Dragoon) where you ride a gryphon-like creature and you can see the gameplay has a great amount of variety in it. It rarely ever gets monotonous or repetitive.

 

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Darksiders is penned by comic book artist Joe Madureira (a.k.a. Joe Mad), and it’s quite evident from the game’s larger than life comic book-style art direction and dialog. The visuals look like a cross between World of Warcraft and Fable and the environments are quite varied, from post-apocalyptic urban areas to lush green valleys with shimmering waterfalls to dusty desert wastelands. While the graphics are commendable in an artistic way, the game engine unfortunately does not hold up well enough. The frame rates are somewhat inconsistent, even when there isn’t much happening on screen and the general lack of anti-aliasing is quite noticeable in certain areas. The game is still quite playable though and the thankfully the engaging nature of the gameplay will make you look past most of the technical inconsistencies. The voice acting is pretty good and deserves special mention. It may come off as cheesy initially but it suits the over-the-top nature of the story. Almost all characters in the game are either angels or demons and sound appropriately menacing.

 

Apart from the minor technical issues, I honestly did not find any faults with Darksiders. I had heard some complaints about the obtuse nature of the puzzles prior to playing the game. But that is surely not the case. If you have been playing video games for a long time, you should have no trouble getting past most of the areas in the game. On the game’s Normal difficulty setting, it should take an average player around 15 to 20 hours (or more if you choose to backtrack and find every single treasure) to finish the game. There are no side quests in the game apart from finding all treasure chests, so those expecting a more freeform game with lots of stuff to do will be slightly disappointed.

 

I personally felt that the gameplay length is quite right as the quality more or less makes up for the lack of any side quests. The replay value is a little stilted though. Due to the nature of the gameplay and level design, there is no New Game+ mode. So apart from trying the game on a harder difficulty, there isn’t much incentive to go through it again. Also, being a game that’s primarily focused on puzzles, it may not be as enjoyable on a second playthrough. That aside, it’s worth recommending the game for its intelligent level design, clever puzzles and a well-designed combat system.

 

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Conclusion

 

Despite some minor technical issues, it’s very difficult for a video game enthusiast to not enjoy Darksiders. Yes, the gameplay is mostly based on borrowed ideas, but it eventually culminates into an engaging experience that will have you clearing level after level even when it’s way past bedtime. If you love action games that require more than just finesse with the controller, look no further, Darksiders could very well be the beginning of an excellent action-adventure franchise.

 

(+) Great mix of combat, exploration and puzzle solving

(+) Intelligent level design

(+) Appropriately challenging without being cheap

(+) Decent story and voice acting

 

(-) Some technical inconsistencies in the game engine

(-) Limited replay value

 

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How we score games

 

Title: Darksiders

Developer/Publisher: Vigil Games/THQ

Genre: Action-Adventure

Rating: 18

Platforms: Xbox 360 (Rs 2,499), PS3 (Rs 2,499)

Reviewed on: PS3

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ahhhhhhhhhh

 

i am running out of money

 

will buy this for sure when its cheap on tp

 

currently saving for DANTE INFERNO, GOD OF WAR,BATTLEFIELD

 

2010 started as great for hack n slash genre

 

BTW

 

NICE REVIEW AS USUAL

ITS ALWAYS GOOD TO A REVIEWER WHO IS ONE OF AMONG US :paagaldance:

 

 

 

TYLER BABY HOW DO U GET SO MUCH TIME TO PLAY :bigyellowgrin:

 

 

 

 

C YA

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