Now that we’ve got that out of the way we can get back to Darksiders 2! Death believes that War is innocent and that an unknown entity tricked him into riding on Earth. To save his brother from his punishment Death must clear his name by of course resurrecting the human race, unfortunately along the way he will have to deal with a Corruption which threatens to destroy everything. Thus the journey begins.
Pretty epic premise right? That fits extremely well with the rest of the game because pretty much everything about this game is epic. The atmosphere of the game is created superbly with the use of the amazing soundtrack which helps set the mood in each different area you visit, as well as using really good cues for combat and other actions. The environment is also suitably epic for the game with some backdrops on scenes that made me stop what I was doing and just look around to take it all in. I’m not done gushing over the atmosphere yet either! The scripting and voice acting are both excellent and really serve to keep you interested and get you immersed in the story.
Darksiders 2 is a hack n slash puzzle platformer and although the hack n slash genre has been done plenty of times before, this game definitely sets itself apart as one of the best. With excellent pacing, and a nice balance between being able to succeed by button mashing or using combos it makes it quite easy to play without getting boring. The puzzles get progressively more complex as the game goes on, as you would expect, but you are also introduced to new abilities to get through them all the way through as well. This serves to not only keep things interesting but also to give you reasons to go back to old areas to perhaps unlock things that you could not get to before. That’s nothing new in a game I know, but it meshes well in this game and with a fast travel mechanic included those trips back are spared from the tedium of running long distances.
The platforming is very reminiscent of Uncharted even to the use of the camera in certain areas where it might zoom out to show you a larger area. The best part of the platforming in DS2 though is the fact that if you die from an environmental danger such as falling off a cliff or falling in lava the game immediately places you back on the ledge you stood last without bringing up a death screen. This makes the platforming infinitely more enjoyable since you are straight back into the action after making a mistake.
One thing that I did find annoying was that there were moments during certain sections of the game where a puzzle required you to do something which the game never told you could be done. There is an argument to be made that this kind of thing just encourages experimenting to work out how to advance through the stage, and that it is nice to not have your hand held the whole way through. That’s all well and good but even with the quick respawn from environmental deaths it still felt a little like banging my head against a wall. Encouraging people to think outside the box is fine but when a puzzle requires you to do something you had no idea could be done and which never comes into play again it seems like unnecessary pain.
The combat is really fluid and relies as I said earlier, on a system of combos as you would expect from this type of game. It heavily relies on evading to win though as Death is a very nimble guy so timing becomes very important as the enemies get harder. Having said that, the difficulty curve for the monsters themselves isn’t that astounding, with a lot of the fights towards the end of the game just being made more difficult by throwing more monsters at you. The finesse and fluidity of the combat suffers at these times since it becomes a lot harder to evade when you are swamped by enemies.
There are a number of ways to counter large groups of enemies though. You can enter Reaper mode which morphs Death into the Reaper as the name suggests and grants him boosted damage and resistance. There is also an execution system which pops up a single button press alert on enemies which are low on health allowing you to instantly kill them. The execution moves only require you to press one button to activate them which is a nice change for those of us used to ridiculously long and involved quicktime events in games like this. That means you just have to hit one button then you can pay attention to all the gorey details of the execution. Lovely.
The execution chance is one of many attributes which the robust role-playing elements of the game allow you to modify using a large variety of loot. With a countless amount of different armour pieces and weaponry, as well as possessed weaponry which you can upgrade by sacrificing other gear, the customizability of your character is definitely there. There are also other ways to upgrade your stats permanently using various collectibles which you can turn in for bonuses throughout the game. A two-tree skill system also adds to the customizability with different abilities to unlock and with a cheap way to respec allowing you to easily experiment to get the right combination. The levelling system in general is really well fleshed out for those of us who are into the minutia of that kind of thing, while still being easy to understand and navigate for those who aren’t.
There is a lot of replayability after completing the story of the game as well with enough side quests to double the amount of time spent in the game, as well as the Crucible mode which sets you in an arena against 100 waves of increasingly difficult enemies. Darksiders 2 also has a new game plus mode which allows you to play the game again using your current level character, as well as Nightmare mode for those with more patience than me in which death is final.
Throughout my play through the game it ran pretty well, although I did get stuck at one point where a scripted event didn’t activate for some reason. A quick reboot from the save which happened to be only a short time ago due to good checkpointing solved that issue. Having said that, I did find myself running in circles for a good 10 minutes before realising something wasn’t right and that in itself can drive you to turning a game off. I also noticed some framerate issues while playing, although I’m not sure if that was just my Xbox on the brink of death or if it is an issue with the xbox version of the game. It wasn’t enough to truly disrupt my gameplay though, just a slight annoyance.
Overall I definitely recommend this game for a buy. It has everything you could want in this type of game, and it will keep you interested for at least a solid 40 hours of play.