Publisher: THQ Nordic
Rating: M for Mature
Price Range: $3.00-$29.99. Varies by platform
I first heard about Darksiders while talking about The Legend of Zelda. Being one of the greatest game series of all time, Zelda has a lot of games that are similar to it in gameplay style, and Darksiders is hailed as one of those games. That’s not what interested me, though. What interested me was when I heard what Darksiders was about: a Horseman of the Apocalypse! That got my attention. When it came up for free on the Epic Games Store a while back, it was a sign I needed to do a Darksiders: Warmastered Edition Review, and see the game for myself. Here’s how it went.
Blood/Gore: I’m not going to mince this one. There is a lot of blood in this game—so much blood. Even locked doors bleed profusely when unlocked.
Violence: Creatures get ripped apart, heads explode, wings are torn off, and so on. This game is violent.
Demonic Forces: Humans are not present in most of this game. Thus, most characters are either demonic or angelic, both of which are usually seen as antagonists to War.
Soul Collection: Souls are collected in this game as a form of currency. That’s not how souls work, and the idea of collecting souls in order to bargain with a demon may be off-putting to some.
Biblical Inaccuracy: Being that this is a Christian review, it should be noted that, though based off of characters mentioned in the Bible, the events in this game’s world are not accurate to their biblical revelation.
Rev. 6:1 “I heard one of the creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” (What drew me into Darksiders)
All I knew going into Darksiders was that it was known to have elements similar to a Zelda game, and that it featured a horseman of the apocalypse. So, that’s what I expected: Heart containers, maybe a couple of mythical creatures, some puzzles, cutting grass—you know, Zelda things. Imagine my surprise when I started the game and saw skyscrapers in the very first cutscene. From the get-go, I found out that this wasn’t going to be like any Zelda game I knew of.
In our review of Darksiders 3 and list of top Zelda-like games, the series is described as a cross between The Legend of Zelda and God of War; rightfully so. While it does have Zelda elements—such as having puzzles, dungeons, and various equippable knickknacks—it is just as much God of War as the health and combat system seems almost directly taken from the original God of War games. To Darksiders‘ credit, though, it perfects the union of the two very different genres, and its world, story, and lore are more than enough to help it stand on its own.
Rev. 6:4 “And out came another horse, bright red (…)” (Visuals)
I still don’t know how to perceive the art of Darksiders. On one hand, its imagery is incredibly dark along with brutal combat interactions. On the other hand, the graphics are intentionally cartoony. To see an example of this, one has to look no further than Ulthane, a giant character with all of the stereotypes of a dwarf (except for being giant). His design looks like he could be an Overwatch character in another universe, and no one would bat an eye. Am I supposed to take this game seriously or not?
Graphics aside, the game’s cutscenes are very well done. Like watching a movie, I’ve asked friends online to momentarily stop talking so I could get as much juicy lore from each cutscene as possible. The audio in each cutscene was weirdly more silent than that of the gameplay, but I assume that’s more due to my PC customizations than the game itself. Though he may be seen as barely having any character (ahem, Kratos), I personally enjoyed watching War’s interactions with other characters of the world, especially when mixed with the dramatic soundtrack.
“It’s rider was permitted to take peace from the Earth…” (Puzzles)
I love me a good temple/dungeon level, and Darksiders delivered for me hardcore. Unlike that of the Zelda series, Darksiders’ temple levels feel like they blend in with the world itself. For example, I never had to actually travel to one of the levels: I was kidnapped and had to break out of it! Rather than going through a series of trials or linear activities to reach a temple at a dead-end somewhere, traveling often involved story progression at the same time. I love having that steady story pacing, rather than having the story given a bit at a time after each dungeon level.
With a few exceptions, I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzles in Darksiders. They ranged from intermediate difficulty to just pushing a box, but I’m used to that. Indeed, the puzzles usually weren’t very difficult, but they were fun. One of my favorite puzzle levels now comes from this game: a location called “The Black Throne.” Within it, War obtains a portal-creating item, and then has to redirect light in various methods in order to get it to shine in the center of the level. Light puzzles are a staple in the Legend of Zelda series, as is taking things from point A to point B within a level. But the series has never combined them like this, let alone via portals.
“And he was given a great sword.” (Combat Gameplay)
The combat is where Darksiders has managed to impress me the most. In previous times, my experience with hack-and-slash was pretty much limited to the original God of War installments, and the cringey night levels of Sonic Unleashed on Playstation 2. So, I didn’t know much about the genre, but I knew one thing: I didn’t like it. Until Darksiders came along.
When I started Darksiders, I chose to begin on Intermediate. I wasn’t out for any extreme challenge, but I wasn’t a ninny, either. And for once, I got an experience that matched my hopes. The combat wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t hard. There are several powerful boons that can be saved for dire circumstances: War’s Chaos Form, which basically allows him to tank through enemies for a set time, and spell-like Rage abilities, like turning his skin and weapons into stone. If conducted correctly, most battles proved to be little problem at all. But, if my focus slipped, I would be down a couple of bars of health before I knew it. If something came up, consumable items were often able to help as well.
There is an extremely high amount of customizability in the combat of Darksiders. There are 3 main weapons and a bunch of combo techniques that can be unlocked over the course of the game. When used in conjunction with the knick-knacks and rage abilities, one can string together combos all day long. Though the battles often proved to be a bit tedious, the battle music and gameplay variety was good enough to make each chore a joy.
Ultimately, the only issue I had with Darksiders was in the controls. For example, being used to Zelda controls, I had difficulty locking on, or “focusing” onto targets in Darksiders. In Zelda games, various attacks only took two steps: one to “Z target”, and one to do what you wanted to do. If I wanted to target something, I could hold down the focus button, and press the item’s button. Long story short, Darksiders is a bit more complicated than that, and what should have been a 2-step process often turned into 4 to 5. Thankfully, I was able to map buttons to my liking and convenience, else I would probably not have had a very fun time with this title.
Though I was skeptical at first, Darksiders has gripped me. It has an awesome story, impressive battle sequences, fun puzzles, incredible characters, and an ending to make any Christian nerd positively freak out. I recommend it to mature fans of Zelda or God of War alike.