Version reviewed: Xbox 360
Recently available through Games with Gold and re-released as the ‘Warmastered’ Edition on PS4, Xbox One and Wii U (!), Darksiders is a game from a strange place. A forgotten gem from the shrinking group of mid-tier developers sitting somewhere between an Activision studio and indies. That said, this game has not had enough said about it and with its recent ‘free’ release the time is right to re-open the conversation.
Darksiders is amazing. Once the world ends in the opening prologue, you – War – have a huge open apocalyptic gothic world to explore. It is the closest ‘Zelda’ experience on non-Nintendo consoles which is no faint praise. The game is a blend of the latter along with God of War, Prince of Persia and – later on in the game – Portal! The combat is ripped straight out of Kratos’ early PS2 adventures along with the way you acquire health and power ups. Nowhere near as tight as God of War’s systems but they supplement the adventuring well. Parkour and wall traversal feels like the PS2 era Prince of Persia games which helps pollinate the array of gameplay elements on offer.
The real draw to this game are the Zelda-like dungeons which follow the Ocarina of Time structure of enter, find ability, use ability, fight boss, use ability to open new part of over world. War – like the story – takes himself far too seriously with a hodgepodge of design choices akin to the gameplay. War’s hooded tunic mirrors Link’s iconic design. His huge sword, carried on his back, evokes memories of Final Fantasy. Despite the blend and borrowing of ideas the game is fun to play proving that the total is greater than the sum of its parts. It scratches the Zelda itch and – through its blend of styles – varies the gameplay from moment to moment. This really is an underrated gem.
Word of warning; the plot plays fast and loose with religious themes which never offensive or controversial, is a point of consideration. The series has had a colourful history (a story for another day) with lay offs, publisher issues etc etc etc so it is great it endures. Inventive puzzles, engaging enemy battles and a fun arsenal mean this game is a fantastic option plus great bang for your buck. If you picked this up in recent sales or through Xbox Live and have it sat on your backlog, I implore you to give it a go! Roll on the recently announced sequel.