Darksiders review
Side with the dark


The Introduction:
Let us just say that you’ve played through all the 3D Zelda games, and as excellent as most of them are, you wonder how they can be better. At the tender age of 12, you fantasize about Link cutting monsters to bits with heads rolling and blood splattering all over the place. Now, with the release of Darksiders, you can live out this fantasy. With bigger dungeons and a high blood count, you’ll be swimming in bloody ecstasy.

The Story:
War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is summoned too early, and he’s on a quest to figure out how this is, while having to destroy an evil force known as the Destroyer. He’s under the watch of the Watcher, who is sent by the Charred Council to watch War as War was accused of starting the apocalypse prematurely by them. He meets with Samael, who tells him that in order to kill the Destroyer, he must first kill the four Chosen to gain access to the black tower. There are twists and turns at certain points in the game, especially towards the end, though they have some degree of predictability, like why Samael really wants the hearts of the Chosen, and what ulterior motives the council have. Despite all of this, each scene is excellently choreographed, so even predictable twists will feel like a slice of excellence in this regard. I’ve seriously been through many games that have predictable storylines that just can’t back it up, and this is a very nice change of pace for me.

The Graphics:
The game looks beautiful... in a post-apocalyptic sort of way. At least, that’s how you would describe most of the environments that you'll be exploring. They look like they’ve been decaying for a long while, as if they've been to hell and back. What’s funny is that the forest still retains a lush atmosphere, full of rainforest greens and that luscious... well, rainforest feeling. It’s a little confusing, though it’s a nitpick on my behalf, so nothing wrong here. What does go wrong here... is the framerate stuttering and the occasional screen tearing. Sometimes, the game stops for a millisecond, and chops a little bit of the frame and slides it aside from the rest. It happens sometimes, and it does get a little annoying if you’re like me and find flaws of this nature annoying, though it’s largely ignorable and doesn’t hamper on the experience, so really, no harm done here.

The Sound:
It’s another one of those games that relies on ambience, rather than a catchy showtune, which is fine for a game of this nature. However, it feels like that there could be music that fits better than dead silence, like an ambient tune. It is during the cutscenes and boss battles that you hear some music, and it’s your standard epic affair for the boss battles, and ambient orchestrated track for the scenes. Excellently choreographed though, I must say. Each track is quite enjoyable. As for the voice acting, it’s quite good. Each of the voice actors must be getting paid quite a sum of money, because they all do a wonderful job of portraying their characters, with the gruff War, demonic (yet somewhat overacted) Samael, and the overly schematic Watcher (the latter voiced by Mark Hamill of Joker fame... now THAT is something). Your ears will be pleased throughout the game.

The Gameplay:
Let’s face it – Darksiders is known for being both a Zelda rip off, and a God Of War ripoff (which, in itself, is a ripoff, but that isn’t the point). It has the level designs and towards the end of game fetch quest stylings of Zelda, and the brutal in your face combat stylings of God Of War.

The dungeons will instantly have you think of the 3D Zelda games. Let’s see... multiple floors, puzzles, a few enemies here and there, “the” item to get, even the way you have to fight the bosses – must be a Zelda rip off! No, that’s pretty exaggerative. I prefer to think of this as paying homage to the 3D Zelda games, and honestly, I don’t blame them – Twilight Princess was the last 3D Zelda game to come out, and Skyward Sword didn’t even have a name when Darksiders came out. Oh boy, 2006 was a long time ago, too...

Okay, getting back on topic – the dungeons manage to give you a bit of the challenge here and there with some of the puzzles, especially some of the brain busters towards the end, and one of the puzzles and items will remind you of a certain other game... which I will not disclose here, but nevertheless, it will give you quite a bit to think about, unless you’re a genius or something. It also has excellent pacing, as the puzzles actually progressively get more difficult, going from simple block pushing to trying to figure out just how to get over that ledge that seems so far away.

The bosses, themselves, feel like a puzzle, as you have to figure out a way to fight them off using whatever items you have at your disposal at the time of the fight. The first boss, for instance, requires that you find a way to use the newly acquired bladed boomerang to damage it. Each boss battle comes up with new and inventive ways, a lot like the 3D Zelda games do. It makes you wonder how desperate we all were for a new 3D Zelda game after Twilight Princess.

Then comes the God Of War influences – brutal combat. You have this big sword and some items at your disposal (ranging from sub-weapons to equipment, and let’s not forget the ever so useful health/wrath potions), so of course you’ll be spending time swinging it to eviscerate monsters. In some rooms, you’ll be trapped by barriers until every monster is destroyed. The actual combat engine is simple, requiring a couple of buttons and the left stick at the most, but it’s that addicting sort of simplicity that you just cannot seem to put down (man, if only God Of War itself had this). Yes, this game has a shop, and you find them all over the world, and it holds the usual health and mana (in this case, wrath) potions, extra attacks, an extra weapon, and some other goodies, which all cost some blue souls that you absorb from downed enemies, which is standard for the genre, so no real opinion here.

The Stats:
Story: You know all of those post-apocalyptic stories? You think they’re getting a little stale now? Well, get this – this story is entertaining! You have a surprisingly compelling tale of destroying evil forces and some sleuthing, and with characters with distinct personalities that make you feel more like watching the next cutscene, no less. 5/5
Graphics: Crispy textures amongst crispy clean colors and excellent designs ought to be something to marvel at while playing through this game. There are some framerate stutters and screen tears to look out for. Rare, but its there. 4/5
Sound: The soundtrack is a bit on the non-existent side, which I guess builds an atmosphere, but doesn’t quite feel right. When there is music, it sounds rather nice. Needs more. The voice acting, on the other hand, is absolutely splendid. Fans of Mark Hamill are in for a treat, especially. 4/5
Gameplay: This is visceral combat that doesn’t hold back. It belts its balls to the wall with action so intense, that you often forget that you have to do something in real life. The combat is just that fun and engaging. Surprisingly, whatever other gameplay elements this game shoves your way is done well. You enjoy Devil May Cry? Do you wish for the 3D Zelda titles to have more detailed and visceral combat? Do you love Soul Reaver? A definite treat for hack and slash fans. 9/10

The Conclusion:
Darksiders is a fantastic game that no hack and slash fan should ever pass up. If you have a craving for apocalyptic and biblical storylines of rather excellent proportions and combat so bloody and brutal, that it could give even God Of War a run for it’s money, satisfy it immediately with this game. In fact, if you pass this up, consider yourself a fool, and feel bad about it. You are missing out on a hell of a hit.

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