Rental Review: Darksiders

Posted: September 29, 2010 in Rental Review

Away we go, into the unknown realm of the rental shelf.  I didn’t know what to expect from this game, it had been released about the same time as Bayonetta and was, for some reason, compared to it.  Being compared to Bayonetta isn’t a bad thing as it’s probably the best action game since DMC3, but Darksiders isn’t really an action game.  Either way I had unfairly ignored it for long enough, it’s time to gamble $10 on this game and see what it brings to the table.

After skimming the instruction manual, I decided to dive into the game and see what it’s about.  Somehow, someone has started the Apocalypse and you, as the Horseman War are there to punish.  Unfortunately some shady individuals have tricked War into thinking the Apocalypse has started and now he’s in trouble for ending the world.  Stripped of this powers he’s sent back to the world of man to avenge his wrongdoings and restore order.  Along with his trusty sword “Chaos Eater” War heads out to spill demon blood on his quest for revenge.

The first hour plays out after the trailer above.  A fully powered War heads to the kingdom of man to end it as he receives the signal that the Apocalypse has begun…  only it hasn’t.  You’ll spend the hour playing around with some combo moves with his huge sword and getting the hang of dodging attacks, jumping and special attacks.  The combat system is quite deep, but nowhere near the level offered in Bayonetta.  This is an unfair comparison, but an understandable one as the first hour of Darksiders is all hack and slash (and some story too I guess).  Of course, as is the norm these days, as War discovers that the signal for the Apocalypse hadn’t been sent after all and is stripped of his power.  In this instance I suppose the “you’re a badass, oops, now you’re not” trope works as you are supposed to be a Horseman of the Apocalypse and you know; really powerful, so there would be no point in powering up an already god-like power.  The game would be pretty boring like that actually, so I guess it’s ok that they take all your power away so you can get it back.  This works fine in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Metroid (also Super and Prime series) as finding the power-ups is half the fun, if you started with them all, the game would get boring quickly.  At least it didn’t send be back 18 days to when I was wimpy (*coughprototypecough*).

Once the game proper begins I start to notice that this game isn’t like Bayonetta at all, it’s more like Zelda if anything.  Aside from the lack of an overworld, Darksiders is quite nearly a carbon copy of Miyamoto’s masterpiece.  It runs down pretty close to the same: Explore a dungeon, find the new weapon, use the new weapon to solve the dungeon puzzles/beat the dungeons boss, repeat.  Like I said earlier, the lack of an overworld sort of takes the exploration from the game as a whole and distills it to the dungeons instead.  There are shops all over the world, run by a demon named Vulgrim, where you may trade souls from fallen enemies for weapons, items, abilities and combos and later in the game you can travel through Vulgrim’s portal system from any shop you’ve found to another for fast(er) travel.  Even the weapons and power-ups are like Zelda games.  First you find a boomerang, sorry “Cross Blade”, that can be used to hit certain switches, light torches or light bomb plant fuses.  Yes, there are bomb plants too.  Also alike are the life shards, like heart containers they add more health to your meter when 4 shards are found.  There are far more similarities, but I think wordpress might crash if I listed them all.

There are standard quests throughout the game like collect X items, kill 4 main bosses to proceed etc…  along with shadow arena fights where a certain fighting mechanic must be used to defeat X monsters in Y time.  This sort of thing, I suppose, brings out the Bayonetta comparisons, but again I don’t think it’s warranted.  Bayonetta is all arena fighting as each area is blocked off until the enemies are defeated.  In Darksiders it’s more of a means to an end, not the game  itself, though these arenas show up far too often for my taste, it’s still better than keys or switches.

As a whole the game is quite fun and the graphics are gorgeous.  The story, while somewhat contrived, is decent and the characters memorable.  It seems as though the order the weapons/powers are received had been changed since the story had been written, so it’s a bit all over the place.  But the characters and the settings are all well fleshed out, the characters that are supposed to be likeable are and the ones that are supposed to be bad also are, though in a well thought out way.  Gameplay is varied with vehicle sections, shooting sections, button mashing fighting, great power-ups and decent puzzling this game has it all.  It’s really quite disappointing how little press this game got in the shadow of Bayonetta.  Darksinders really needs more people to play it, and they won’t be let down as long as they want a more bloody Legend of Zelda.

BUYRENTPASS

Game played on Xbox360 using the standard controller.  Play time 18+ hours, approximately 45% complete, 12,000 gallons of demon blood spilled (yes there’s a stat for that).

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