Because nothing quite says Halloween like the Four Horsemen, angels, demons, the apocalypse and the complete and utter destruction of mankind. It's Darksiders! Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC, Darksiders was developed by Vigil Games–
Vigil. Not Virgil.
And published by THQ. You play as War, the first of the Four Horsemen who answers the call to bring about judgment to the world only to find that the other three members of the Horsemen are nowhere to be found. Turns out he was the only one summoned and now stands accuse of breaking the alliance between demons and angels and is stripped of his powers as a result of it. Sounds like War could do with a good lawyer, I'll contract Wright & co. office immediately.
War manages to convince the Charred Council, creators of the Four Horsemen and keeper of the balance between heaven and hell, to let him go find the one responsible and is left in the care of “The Watcher” a warden demon assigned with keeping the Horseman in check with the power to kill him if he forsakes the Council or abandons his current mission, voiced by none other than everyone's favorite Joker, Mark Hamill.
To kick off this journey of badassery, is that a word? My spellcheck is saying it's not a word. Oh well. Let's go over the game's control.Controls:
I think that by now we've established that the left stick is generally used to move your character and the camera is the right. Yes? Yes. You jump with A, open doors, talk to people, stab things that gives you currency (we're always killing for money!) and instant kill enemies with B, use your primary sword attack with X and your secondary attack with Y. You can focus on an enemy by holding down the LT button to make attacking them easier.
The RT button lets you use your Gear Item, with the D-pad being used to select them. The same goes for the ability menu you can access by pressing and holding down LB. To block in-coming attacks press the RB button and press it while moving the left stick in order to dash to move faster or dodge attacks. The back button will access your map while holding it down will summon the Watcher to aid you and the start button will pause the game (thank God) and allow you to go through your inventory.
The opening FMV is beautiful, just beautiful. I honestly feel like I'm watching a CGI animated film when I'm watching it. It sets up the basic premise for the story and easily pulls us into this world like our own, but completely different where the elements of demons and angels come in. Then the FMV ends and you're treated to the gameplay graphics that are such a downgrade. This isn't anything new in video games, though. It's been the case since we had FMVs. But it does take some adjusting after being blown away by the initial opening visuals.
Darksiders gives me Devil May Cry vibes (not the first the game has given them to) and I mean that in a good way. The two games are in the same genre and have similar yet different elements between them so it's easy to make the connection. The game succeeds beautifully in being engaging right from the get-go and that's important if you want to draw in new players. You fight a range of enemies such as a variety of ground demons, giant bats, angels, zombies and huge chibi mofo you wish would just die already.
In addition to your hands and signature weapon you can transform into War's Chaos form which is pretty much a big fiery force of destruction resistant to most things that gets taken away from you at the start after you've had your fun. The developers of the game must have played Castlevania Sympathy of the Night.
Whenever an enemy is close to defeat you can press the B button to kill them instantly. This triggers an animation of War killing that enemy in horrible, horrible ways. Like ripping off the wings of angels, impalement, cutting them in half and the bigger they are, the more brutal their death.
The story revolves around three kingdoms, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of Hell and the Kingdom of Man. Heaven and Hell have been at each other's throats for years until the Charred Council chose to step in to play mediator. They created the Four Horsemen War, Death, Strife and Fury to enforce their laws between the two kingdoms to keep the universe from imploding, pretty much. While humans weren't seen to be particularly strong (THANKS OBAMA!), they were cunning and intelligent and the Council recognized their importance in the fate of the kingdoms, creating the Seven Seals to be broken when man was ready for the Endwar where the Horsemen would unleash their judgment on earth. But the Seventh Seal was not broken when War arrived and the Kingdom of Hell overwhelmed an unprepared Kingdom of Man and Heaven, led by the Destroyer who took the earth and now War is (pun in-coming) on the war path to make the Destroyer pay for his crimes. Yeah! Go, War!
Returning to earth after his conversation with the Council we discover that it had been a full century since he was here last and the demons had taken over earth wiping out humanity and the majority of the angels with only a few remaining. Jeez, time really flies at the Council's place. That must be where the Sherlock fanbase goes in-between seasons.
It's a big world out there and a lot of places aren't going to be reachable until you regain many of War's lost weapons after the initial opening sequence. The world is separated in three different locations with the Scalding Gallow acting as a hub for new missions and routes to take as you progress. Extending a bit on what I said earlier, you can look at the world map, as well as the local area map, at any time by simply pressing the back button. You can cycle between those two, your stats where you can look at your time in-game, in combat, total kills, how many times you died, distance traveled, higher combos and how many souls collected. It even has a count of how much demon blood you spilled. Awesome. And then there's a list of tips you can review at any time. It'll also view location items on the top left side of your screen and you can cycle through floors by pressing up and down on the right stick. I'll explain souls and how it acts as currency in a moment.
Your inventory will cycle through Character, Gear & Wrath, Weapon Forge and Artifacts. Your Character Menu shows your basic equipment with your primary and secondary weapons, slotted enchantments and the currency you collected from slaying enemies. AKA souls. Souls comes in three forms, money for buying new weapons and items which are color coded blue. Green souls replenish War's health and yellow souls increases his Wrath gauge beneath his health bar so he can use his Wrath abilities in combat. Pressing Y over a weapon lets you see that weapon's description and X will take you to a list of combos you can perform with it.
You have simple standard moves that only require pressing one button like Forehand Strike, Return Slash, Double Slash and Reverse Backhand Strike with War's sword. Then you have ground moves where you need to hold down a button to perform like Sword Uppercut or Sky Scraper. Aerial moves can be a little more complicated like Meteor Strike where you need to tap A then the left stick at the same time as RB. Memorizing combos are important as with any good Hack and Slash they can make all the difference and allow you to do more damage to multiple enemies. The weapons level progress can also be seen here via the meter curving at the bottom and the symbols at the top that'll light up per level with a maximum of four.
Gear and Wrath is where you can look over your passive, Wrath and gear equipment. All of War's passive abilities will be at the top right such as Block Counter and Shadowflight. These two allow you to block enemies and temporarily glide in order to get past certain obstacles that stand in your way. Gear items like the Earthcaller and Crossblade can be assigned with A and then during gameplay can be accessed with the RT or Y buttons depending on the gear. The Wrath abilities will be over to the right across from your passive abilities with a level at top of each one. After pressing A you can choose to assign it to a face representing X, A, B and Y and then select it. During battle you can hold down the LB button to pull it up and then press the button you assigned it to. Some times it's just what the devil ordered to get an edge in battle.
The Weapon Forge lets you choose between the weapons in your inventory and one enchantment for each. Each enchantment offers one or two ability each with Legendary Enchantments offering a lot more abilities, but they have to be found in the world as you explore. Then you have artifacts that you can take to a demon's dealer name Vulgrim for a bargain. Speaking of Vulgrim...
Early on in the game upon returning to earth you're commanded to seek out Vulgrim, a demon trader who can assist you on your quest from offering you items, new combos for your sword, weapons and Wrath abilities. In exchange for these goods he requires souls which acts as currency. Souls can be earned by slaying enemies and depending on how you slay those enemies will determine what kind of souls you get. You can also give him ancient artifacts as he'll, to quote the demon himself, “Make it worth your while.” Think him as the Merchant, only he's relevant to the on-going story at hand.
You aren't just limited to the two-handed sword you start off with, further into the game you find other weapons including a scythe and a gauntlet that comes with their list of moves and combos you can utilize in combat. One of the other gear items that quality as a weapon asides from the Crossblade is Mercy, a revolver you'll acquire further down the road in the game that is War's own personal pistol. You even get a horse, Ruin that can allow for faster travel throughout the world and assist War with combos and stronger attacks when dealing with enemies later on in the game.
At the beginning you have the Chaoseater, the clothes on your back and your friendly neighborhood Watcher as you navigate through a set of linear and non-linear passages on your way to the Destroyer atop his towering monument. But you can't just be expected to head long and fight your way through everything. You'll also have to solve puzzles which some times requires a certain item, an object being moved to the right place or a new ability in order to bypass. War can navigate the world further by climbing up and down roots scaling pipes, sliding across ledges and going across wires. Some times you'll have to jump and glide to get to certain areas making the game feel like a platform game at times. He can even swim, going under and deeper in water with B and going back up with A and dashing through the water with RB like when on ground. Attacking still works when you're both climbing, hanging on pipes and ledges and while underwater so you'd never know when you could run into enemies even in those places.
Did I mention you can throw objects? To pick up an object press the B button and then press the RT button in order to throw it. Is there a large demon blocking your path? No worries, throw a freaking police car at it! I wonder if insurance would cover that... Another object you can throw are called sticky bombs, which are either already lit and set to explode at any minute or needs to be lit up by a torch or an explosion in order to prove useful. Once you get the Crossblade you can even better aim your throws with RS. One of the gear items you get early on in the game is the blow horn named Earthcaller. This allows you to open up gates which are really large living statues sworn to work for the Destroyer whether they like it or not. It's also pretty handy in pushing some enemies away when they get too close.
There's a quest that's kind of like a bonus stage that require completing a specific task (like performing a certain combo a certain number of times or killing a set number of enemies) to complete for currency. It's introduced once you get around to the second guardian that needs you to break his curse by some nearby Shadow Lurkers so he can allow you passage through his gate. At any time during gameplay you can summon the Watcher who will show up and provide dialog and offer tips to aid War on his journey, or just make fun of you. He'll also lead you in the right direction by getting a head start on you and saying, “Over here!” but will he help you in a brawl? Of course not! You're War, deal with it >.>
Further on in in the game War will jump on the back of a winged horse where you have an aerial battle flying through the sky and fighting angels, demons and a dragon that'll block your path near the end and screw physics! Once again allow RS to be your guide in the aiming department while you press RT to fire and hold down RT to lock on to multiple enemies. Certain enemies, like the angels, will fire energy balls (I'm not sure if they have a specific name or not I'm just saying what they look like) at you that automatically lock onto War so if you want to get rid of them you have to shoot them down before they reach you. It's actually a really fun part of the game, up until that last part with the dragon (it's always a dragon >.>)
I think I've covered a good amount of the gameplay so let's go over our characters.War:
The star of our show, War, is portrayed as a no-nonsense honorable warrior feared by angels and demons alike. Preferring to cut to the chase in conversation and only speaking when there's a need to, which goes greatly for the Watcher who seems to enjoy the sound of his own voice. A lot about War's past is left unexplored, but he possesses a poor history with many who would like to see him dead.The Watcher:
Then we have our sick, twisted and sadistic Watcher who relishes in the fact that War has to behave in his presence or be crushed. Not much is known about the character overall except that he served the Council for a long time and continues to serves them faithfully.Uriel:
Loyal and devoted warrior of Abaddon, as well as unrequited love interest, Uriel is one of the few remaining angels left after the Endwar and the leader of the Hellguard, a force of angels once under the command of Abaddon that continue to fight against the demons on earth and search for War who they blame for the Kingdom of Heaven's current state and Abaddon's death.Vulgrim:
As mentioned earlier, Vulgrim is your merchant in the game and a demon so twisted and detestable with schemes falling out of his backside that it's doubtful he even trusts himself. He has no real honor to speak of (no honor among demons) and will do anything to devour the souls he desires. War reluctantly requires his services throughout the course of the game.Abaddon:
Former leader of the Hellguard and the greatest warrior to come out of heaven, Abaddon hates demon kind with a passion and fought bravely for the Kingdom of Heaven for many, many years. Before most of us were even born. He is presumed dead at the beginning of the game during hell's march on earth, an incident that Uriel blames War for.Azrael:
Azrael is the narrator at the beginning of the game and the archangel of death. Like a sage, Azrael has a great array of knowledge and wisdom and is tasked with guarding important places like the Well of Souls and the ruins of Eden. He has a great love and care for the earth and feels remorse for the role he plays leading up to the events in the game and will gladly await and accept War's judgment.Ulthane:
Ulthane is said to be older than both Heaven and Hell and has no interest in their war and will even battle anyone from either kingdom if they gave him a reason to, laughing at their threats of death. He is revered as a weapons maker to such an extent that even the Destroyer fears the weapons he creates and prefers battles be one on one and without interruption. Battles he treat more like a competition such as who can kill the most enemies. Looking past his humor he does see some serious development in the part he has to play in the progressing story.The Charred Council:
The Charred Council are represented in the form of three stone heads and each head exhibits a different personality and holds a different role although the exact number of Council members are unknown. The first head can be harsh towards War while the second head pretty much questions everything that it presented to him and the third head is probably the most fair in the course of actions he offers and in his wisdom. The Destroyer:
The primary target in War's judgment and the one responsible for the elimination of the humans and most of heaven's forces. The identity of the Destroyer is shrouded in mystery and the only way to find out who it is once and for all is to get to him.
Each character plays their role to a tee and the voice acting is top notch in all the places it needs to be.
As you probably guess by now the world takes a lot of inspiration from characters in Christian mythology and puts its own spin on them and the world is vast and alluring. I really would recommend taking the time to explore as much of it as you can instead of just rushing to each new objective as they come. The game has been compared to Devil May Cry, God of War and the Legend of Zelda and after spending enough time playing the game it's easy to see why.Conclusion:
I never thought I would be able to say this about any game I reviewed, but I cannot find a single fault in this game. The characters are compelling, the lore is fascinating, the world is enriching and deserving of as much exploration as you can get out of it, the combat fun and exciting and the story is great. It just does everything that it needs to do in order to provide a fun experience for the player and if you like any of the things that was mentioned here then I would definitely recommend giving it a try for yourself.Final Score: