Published on August 14th, 2012 | by Gerald Chan1
Darksiders 2 Review – More and Bigger!
As far as sequels go, they would usually either move the story forward or, occasionally, focus itself on the backstory of a particular franchise. Darksiders 2 chooses to maintain the storyline as it takes place during the same time in which War, from the first game, is sent to Earth. We follow Death as he goes about discovering the true motivations behind War’s framing across multiple zones and encountering the irony behind the never ending war between Heaven and Earth.
Fans of the first game may look no further, Vigil has done a good job expanding on whatever foundations that were laid for the first Darksiders and expanded it to become even bigger and better. The wheel is not reinvented but as the saying goes, why fix something that is not broken?
The Darksiders franchise borrows heavily from other titles of its genre especially from the God of War, Zelda and Metroid franchises. In Darksiders 2, be prepared as additional elements from Grand Theft Auto, Portal and Diablo are thrown into the fray as well. There is just so much to do apart from just completing the main storyline to look forward to. Darksiders 2 is not your usual title to rush through as multiple playthroughs will be required to enjoy the entire package. Be forewarned though, the puzzles will only be fun the first time while learning to crack them and will be more a speedbump for subsequent re-runs. Sad but true, the puzzles in the game are also by far the most enjoyable that I’ve had for similar titles, apart from Castlevania (the 2D ones are an exception).
The puzzle aspect for Darksiders 2 was what I had really enjoyed, combat came across more as a stress reliever after getting through a particular section. Eventually, players will realize that in every quest, the objectives are broken up into a specific sequence. Collect 3 of an item, fight some enemies in between, fight a mini boss, more puzzles, enemies and, finally, the end boss for the zone. I particularly loved the pacing of the game. Unlike most titles, the puzzle sequences are more detailed right from the start and ends of with a shorter race to the objective to the third and plenty of combat in between.
This helps immensely as in certain areas of Darksiders 2 as there are puzzle sequences that are pretty irritating due to the poor camera angles that does not reveal the actual objective or interactable item that is required to move the sequence forward. While there is a built in hint system in the game (a crow named Dust), he is often pretty clueless and will lead you running in circles. Apart from that, the satisfaction derived from completing a puzzle gives you that familiar buzz that makes you crave for more. Thankfully, after the initial puzzle sequence, expect more combat and less cranium cracking.
Focus on puzzles are both boon and bane to the title. The experience is largely marred by poor graphical cues on top of the camera work. There was one particular section on the game where the climbable wall was camouflaged into the background. In other areas, the color is a consistent visual cue. This lead me going around in a full circle before a random leap into the background led to Death grabbing and hanging on to the wall.
Button mashing combat is fluid as the one found in God of War. The system is very forgiving and the game can cleared completely by simply pressing only one button if that is your kind of them. Same formula applies here as well – The more enemies you kill, the more currency you get to buy new moves but that’s just the beginning. In Darksiders 2, on top of buying new moves, currency can be used to buy items to outfit Death. Yup, sounds like Diablo except that each upgrade brings a significant improvement to Death’s attack damage and there will be little need for farming. Enemies and chests are very generous when it comes to upgrades.
Boss fights are top notch and they don’t have you simply wail away at the boss while pressing the dodge button in between. While the bulk of the engagement still does require button mashing, the use of abilities to weaken or cripple the boss is mandatory. It gives the player the chance to use Death’s puzzle solving abilities in a larger context. The best part about the boss fights? No silly QTEs, I think modern video games simple have too much of them.
Loot in this game is categorized by the colors and the best item would be one in Orange. While they are not called legendaries, Orange loot in Darksiders 2 have a unique property to them. Orange loot, otherwise know as Possessed Weapons, actually gain levels based on the amount of items that are sacrificed to it. Possessed weapons can be leveled a total of 5 times and will be more powerful than any item that may be picked up in the short term. I do love this feature as it gives gamers more time playing the actual game instead of looking at their character screen figuring out how to make things fit best. Vigil has done a great job introducing a new system without having it to be an elephant in the room.
My one key gripe for the game is that there are just too many abilities offered to the player to use. As Death progresses in level, the gets the opportunity to learn new skills, and this would be on top of the abilities that Death obtains to overcome the puzzles in the game. This issue may be more prevalent on the console version as there is a dire lack of mapable buttons that can afforded on the controller leading to pretty contused and uncomfortable controller holding positions.
Overall, Darksiders 2 is an enjoyable experience especially if you are the sort that loves a good mix of both puzzle solving and button mashing combat. It took me about 17 hours to get through the entire game on Easy with 1 or 2 side quests completed and there are still many locales in game that I have yet to visit! Don’t be afraid to spend all your cash on abilities as there is a New Game+ and the hardest difficulty will be unlocked then. However, do note that once the game is completed, there is no going back so finish up everything before the last engagement.
Get this game if you love a combination between God of War & Portal, you can do no wrong.