Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Microsoft Windows (PC)
Year 2010 has been a year of some great action adventure titles release, mostly on the consoles. These are games such as the critically acclaimed God of war 3, Dante’s inferno, Bayonetta and the long awaited Darksiders. While God of War 3 received unbelievably high scores from the various game reviewers, Bayonetta was also well praised for its game play and design. However, Dante’s Inferno received somewhat negative reviews, mostly due to the complains of some minor problems and is framed as an average clone to Sony’s God of War franchise. Out of all these games, Darksiders finally made its way to PC-DVD just a few weeks ago, so is this a good game? Or is it just another clone to God of War again? Today I will review this game.
Watch this video for gameplay trailer, with interviews from the developer
Darsiders was developed by Vigil Games, this is a new video gaming studio. The game itself was published by THQ. The game was originally released on Xbox360 and Playstation 3 earlier this year. The PC port finally arrived in later September this year. I didn’t know about Darksiders until I came across a video trailer on youtube. My first impression was “wow, the guy you get to play looks really cool, he has a big sword and wears a cool armour”. However, I wasn’t too sure about this game so I read some reviews by IGN and Gamespot. In general, the opinions are that this game is a mix between God of War and Legend of Zelda. Furthermore, IGN
This game has characters with BIG weapons!
I will rant about the story for a bit, so bear with me. First of all, the story of Darksiders is loosely based on Revelation. Yes, I repeat, Revelation. However I also said it is “loosely based on”. One might think, how can anyone write a video game story loosely based on Revalation? Well, here is the deal. In Darksiders you play as one of the four horsemen of Apocalypse known as “War”. I think this is from the passage of Revelation 6:3-4. In the story the seals were broken and War, as one of the horsemen was summoned to the earth. He started to wipe out every living thing on earth, thinking it was time for the end of days because the seals were broken. Very soon War discovered something is aloof, because it seemed that he was the only horsemen being summoned, and as he performed his duty of “extermination” he gradually lost his power in the process doing his duty in bringing an Armageddon. War was eventually defeated in a battle against a large demonic creature and is presumably dead. He woke up and found that the seals weren’t really broken, and War has been mistakenly summoned. On top of that, War was blamed for starting a pre-mature apocalypse that doomed the kingdom of man. Well, you can imagine this will totally suck if you are War. He managed to persuade the council in charge of the horsemen to let him return to Earth to investigate who was behind the false call in hope of clearing his name. When War returned, it has been 100 years since the apocalypse and the world lies in ruins and all mankinds are extinct. Only demons still lurk around fighting against roaming bands of angels.
Ok, at this point. by now you probably understand why I said the story is “loosely based” on the last book of the Bible, because in the Bible the most important thing about the end of days is about Jesus' return to earth (described in passages such as Matthew 24:36, 25:13). Therefore, one can say script writers for the game draws inspirations from the book of Revelation about the end of days and created a post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy story.
Welcome to the post-apocalyptic world of Darksiders
While some might call this blasphemous, but remember this is just a video game story. Furthermore, the story is all about War finding redemption and setting the wrongs right, which turns out to be quite interesting. Despite this game's secular origin, there are some interesting things to think about from the story. For example, a the main antagonist (actually a demon) tried to tempt War to join the bad side, saying to the game's hero “since the Creator has abandoned his creation, why should you still fight for the light and not join me to rule in hell?” Personally, I face this challenge as a Christians every now and then, especially in times of difficulty. Sometimes there seems to be this voice telling me that God doesn’t care, and He has abandoned me, but in reality this is just the devil's lies. In the story War overcame the demon’s temptation and lies and stayed on his original course. At that point, I was thinking, "what about me? Have I sometimes gave up to the devil’s lies and believe that God is not with me? How can I continue to trust in God? The answer is in the Bible, see John 5:24, and John 6:35-40, this is something worth reflecting about. Also in the story it showed that the bad guy became the bad guy because he thought he knew better than the Creator himself and wanted to take control (I will leave this to the would be players of this game to find out). Therefore, I think as far-fetched as the story is, in terms of spiritual and moral content the Darksiders story actually has some good moments that kind of rings home with some of challenges Christians face everyday, such as trusting in God, while knowing that God is in control and He knows better than any of us.
At the first glance, Darksiders appears to be a God of War clone. However, my flatmate remarked that Darksiders actually bears a lot of resemblances to the Legend of Zelda games. As you take control of War, you can unleash some devastating powers upon your foes. The combat system is somewhat similar to Devil may cry series, as you hit the enemies your combo ranking goes up, and the keys of winning battles often lie in figuring out the patterns of your enemies movements and attack patterns rather than the typical one button mash action in most video games. There are lots, I repeat, lots of puzzles in this game. Some of the puzzles can be very challenging, and sometimes requires the player to think outside the box, but solving the puzzles are a lot of fun and satisfying. As the game progresses the player gradually get new items, often crucial to solve the puzzles that lie ahead. For example, early in the game the player acquires a cross blade, which is a boomerang type of weapon, not only can you use it in the fights, but it is also one of the most essential item in the game to solve the puzzles.The boss battles are very interesting as well, as these boss battles are often puzzles themselves that requires the player to observe the patterns and use the variety of War's arsenals, and formulating strategies to win the day.
The horsemen of apocalypse is as well equipped as Bruce Wanye!
Personally, one of my favourite features in Darksiders is the horseback combat. Later in the game, War regains his horse Ruin, this is fair enough because how can a horsemen be a horsemen without a horse right? The player can summon and un-summon the horse at any time, and the horse can be used in open areas to increase the movement speed, while riding the horse War's attack damage and range increases greatly. Without spoiling too much of the game, the horse is a crucial item in this game.
War rides on Ruin in Wild, Wild West!
There are other features in this game that makes it worth replaying, such as the difficulty option setting. The player can choose to play easy, normal or apocalyptic difficulty when starting a new game. In the game there are many artifacts and items scattered throughout the game world, by collecting these items the player can make War even stronger. It is also possible to back track to the different levels to acquire the artefacts that you missed previously. Towards the end of the game, the story actually requires the player to back track. The control input is very smooth, I only had very minor issues with the control. Overall, this game unshamely borrows a lot of the best gameplay elements from many classic games and blend them together. The result? It totally works and Vigil game managed to forge a unique gaming experience.
Video for War's horse, Ruin (the video is R-rated due to violence)
The design of Darksiders is probably one of the strongest points of the game. This game is very, very well designed. The lead designer is Joe Madureira, a comic book artist/author best known for his work on Marvel’s Uncanny xmen. The game world is very well presented, beautiful and atmospheric, from abandoned wild desert, mystery haunted tower, ruined post-apocalyptic city to demonic infested cathedral, with everything in between! The game world is superb and really grasps the feel of a comic book world, dark mysterious but full of colours, overall, the artistic style is a very unique. The character models are very cool! War looks really hardcore, it is everything that you will imagine a horsemen of apocalypse would look like. The monsters and bosses look scary and imaginative, in a comical way.
Hey look, it's treebeard! Or is it.. rockbeard?
The sound effects in this game is impressive, I had to keep the volume on my speakers low the whole time, otherwise during combats it feels as if the soundwaves will tear open the roof of my little apartment. The soundtracks, on the other hand although epic, but lack something memorable in them. The voice acting in this game is top notch, almost on par with the voice acting in Batman Arkham Asylum.
Violence, language and sex/sexual references:
Violence: One should take note that Darksiders is a very violent game. As War takes on the demonic horde from hell, there is an overwhelming amount of decapitations, flying limbs, and blood animations in this game.
Language: There are minor coarse languages, no actual swearing words.
Sex/Sexual references: There is not sex/sexual references in this game, actually none of the male or female characters are scantily/proactively dressed/depicted in this game, which is pretty good compared to most of today’s video games.
I’ve encountered a problem with gamepads in Darksiders, since this is a PC port apparently only Xbox 360 controllers are compatible with the game, but this wasn't stated on the cover box. Therefore this must be a game bug/issue, and I could only use my mouse and keyboard to play.
I am very happy that I played Darksiders, this is a great action adventure game. If you enjoy playing 3rd person action adventure games then don’t miss this one. It is a blend between Zelda, God of War, Devil May Cry with a story and universe unique in its setting. The puzzles are challenging and fun to solve, the boss battles are engaing, epic and memorable. This is a game that won’t insult your intelligence!
Video trailer of puzzles (courtesy of Gametrailers)
Story: 8.5/10 – a unique and interesting story, far fetched yet original.
Gameplay: 9/10 – To be short, this game is great fun, lots of fun!
Graphics: 9.5/10 – Although the textures are a bit low for a PC game, but the game world is very well designed and beautiful, this is a pretty looking game!
Sound: 8/10 – The sound effect and voice acting are both top notch, but the sound track could use some improvement.
Violence: Very high level violence, although the box says MA+15, but I actually won’t recommend it to anyone below the age of 18.
Language: It is relatively clean, only a few coarse words, but no swearing words at all.
Sex/Sexual references: None
Recommended age of audience: 18+
Final score: 9.2/10 (superb!)