Darksiders II – Don’t be afraid of Death

darksiders2wiiUDarksiders 2 (Wii U) Review – Darksiders II is the best video game of the generation.  It isn’t the best experience, the best story, the best graphics or the most revolutionary gameplay of the generation.  But the now defunct (sadly) developer Vigil managed to craft an unbelievably well-rounded game that is far better than it ought to be, and far better than the sum of its parts.

If the first Darksiders was reminiscent of a Zelda game, this is most definitely spiritually mimicking the Soul Reaver games.  And that’s okay.  The first Soul Reaver is one of my favourite games of all time.  If I were objective it would be hard to not give the gong to Darksiders II as the better of the two games.  But unlike Soul Reaver, and even the first Darksiders, I felt that this game lacked a bit of soul, a bit of urgency and more importantly a whole lot of story.  What story is there is decent, only by virtue of the fact that the world wrapped around the game is so damned intriguing.  Demons fighting angels.  A Horseman, or rider, falsely accused and sentenced to death for jumping the gun on a war between good an evil.  This is all good stuff.  But Darksiders II unfortunately does little with it and when it does the narrative is told through overly verbose dialogue that says a lot but often seems to mean nothing.  Luckily the main character Death is just so cool you’ll be willing to overlook some of the nonsense spouting from his mouth.

Darksiders II though – quite simply – is an absolute blast to play.  The world is interesting to explore and provides enough variety to keep you pushing through to the incredibly well paced end, and the incredibly agile Death is incredibly fun to control.  Traversal, which is similar to the almost industry standard set by Prince of Persia: Sands of Time way back in 2003,  while sometimes being too imprecise leading  to unnecessary deaths is fluid and fun and makes moving from enemy encounter to enemy encounter rewarding.  And when you get there the combat is, while not the deepest or most impressive in the world, good visceral fun.  It helps that the developers borrowed liberally from action genre stalwarts, incorporating a simple combo system to make battles easy to control while still managing to look impressive, making it less Ninja Gaiden and more God of War.  Add in your block moving puzzles with some more innovative sequences involving portals and ‘clones’ later on in the piece and you’ve got a game that pretty much covers off on all bases and making it all things to all men in the process. No small feat.

In fact it copies the template set by other games so perfectly that it has its own version of the Library from Halo.  But I won’t hold that against it.

Darksiders II is an amazing video game that  forgets to be a whole lot of other things games have come to be known for in recent times in the process.  If you go into this knowing that, and pass off all of the flaws in story-telling and pacing, you’ve got the perfect video game – one that will make you wonder why all games can’t be more like this.  We can only hope that future games borrow from Darksiders II as liberally as it did from other games, because if they do, things can only get better.


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