Darksiders should be my favourite game ever. After all, it’s effectively a mash-up between two of my favourite game series: God of War and The Legend of Zelda. It features the dynamic, fluid combat from God of War (with the targeting from Zelda thrown in there to create a great mix) and the formula for the dungeons is straight from Zelda – chests, keys, dungeon maps, bosses, it’s all there. There’s even an item resembling Aperture Science’s own Handheld Portal Device which fires out orange and blue portals. Make that three of my favourite series of games, then.
Is it my favourite game now? No, it’s great but it’s not up there with any of those three giants. It might not be as good as them, but it’s still a fantastic remix of sorts and it has a lot going for it, and it’s one that I should have taken notice of sooner; how I missed this is beyond me. Darksiders’ is set in a post-apocalyptic world, after your character – War, the second of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – is blamed for causing this apocalypse prematurely. War returns to a ruined Earth a century after the apocalypse to restore balance and destroy those who brought about the end of humanity.[drop]I’ve mentioned that the combat is God of War hack ‘n’ slash combined with the Z-targeting (it will always be Z-targeting, no matter which button is used) from Zelda. Well, there are many other things including magic attacks, the Chaos Form in which you transform into a beast, different weapons, combos and finishing moves in there, too. Your main weapon is a sword, although you’ll get two other weapons along with secondary items as you progress. The game starts off linear, but as the game progresses you’re able to go back and explore areas, and you’ll need to do this at many points throughout the game. The world itself is divided into around ten different areas, with four proper dungeons scattered over these.
There’s many smaller dungeons and sections, but the real ones play exactly like Temples from Zelda, as I’ve said: you enter a dungeon, find keys maps and other items hidden in chests, solve puzzles, fight a mini-boss, get an item (such as a Crossblade Boomerang, Revolver or the aforementioned Portal Gun) which will allow you to progress to the final boss and then aid you in killing it. These dungeons are amongst the best parts of the game and are paced well. The bosses themselves are impressive, colossal foes which act as a mix of tactical gameplay, to get them down, and swordplay to defeat them. They work really well and bosses are a highlight of the game, I found myself looking forward to them rather than dreading them.
The gameplay varies from the hacking, slashing and dungeon crawling at some points, such as when you get on your horse – Epon… I mean Ruin – and take across the great sands of the Gerud… The Ashlands to fight gigantic worm creatures and progress. There’s also some excellent puzzles involving the slowing of time and the use of portals with beams, some of which require a lot of thinking and are a great touch.
There’s many upgrades for weapons, health, magic attacks and other things that you can collect, which can be bought from the merchant Vulgrim in exchange for Souls – the currency of Darksiders. These upgrades add a lot to the game, but don’t overwhelm you with complicated moves. Speaking of that, the control system is very overwhelming; there’s a lot of different button combinations to do things, although once you get the hang of it and where all your weapons or magic is stored, it’s not too much of a hassle.
Darksiders really succeeds with the story; it’s not an excellent work of fiction that you would compare to some of the greats, but it’s a good take on the mythology of the Four Horsemen and the apocalypse, which will no doubt be expanded on next year, when Darksiders 2 arrives. There’s many great characters such as The Watcher played by Mark Hamill (you’ll notice this because of the Joker-esque voice and his constant use of lightsabers and the force), War himself, Samael and Abaddon, who all help tell this tale.[drop2]The graphics aren’t anything to write home about. It’s got it’s own style, which is evident; it’s not too realistic and the colours are vibrant and bold, which is a nice touch. The post-apocalyptic Earth setting is quite fantastic – whilst it’s a twisted Earth, condensed to fit in one area, there’s wreckages of cars and signs of a human world that was once great that makes it special. The music and sounds are decent (it has even got it’s own version of the do-do-doo-dododoodoo fanfare from Zelda when you complete a puzzle), with solid voice work and miscellaneous sounds.
Darksiders is truly an ode to Zelda, and it shows. I’d never have thought in a million years that mixing the formula and gameplay of Zelda with the combat and puzzles of God of War would work. Darksiders did it though, and I can’t believe I put it off until now. From the dungeon crawling to the mighty bosses that lie at the end, it’s a great journey that’s paced well and works like it should. This game was made for me, but I’m sure everyone will enjoy it. Favourite game? Still no, sorry. An excellent game that no fans of action adventure games should miss? Definitely.
Don’t put this off any longer, the apocalypse just might come sooner than you expect…