If you boot up Darksiders II without playing the first, you might like me be a bit confused as to what genre of game Darksiders II is. Is it a platformer? Action game? RPG?! After playing through it I can safely assume it’s an action platformer that combines RPG elements almost perfectly. Now that I’ve padded the intro out, let us dive into the meat of Darksiders II.
Taking control of the Horseman Death, you roam the lands between Hell and Heaven known as the Nether Realms in order to clear the name of your brother, War. Whom destroyed humanity in the first game. The story is interesting and keeps the game flowing from fetch quest to fetch quest. It is strange to see one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse having to collect everything for everyone. While the point of your quests seem the same, the means in which you complete them are diverse and quite well done.
If you read my beautifully crafted opening paragraph, you would know that this is an action platformer. Whilst completing your quests, you’ll need to activate switches, remove debris with flaming fire balls, stand on switches, climb and use your special powers to get from point to point. The platforming is really well done and many times I found myself scanning every corner of the dungeon I was in so I could find out what I had to do. During these platforming sequences you find that the controls stumble a bit and the camera is a little strange. You traverse the world by running and jumping and while doing this sometimes Death doesn’t do what you tell him to do. It can be annoying and many times you’ll go flying off ledges and beams. I’m not saying it’s directly the games fault, but the controls hinder the process.
Being an action game, Darksiders II is full of combat. You have two weapons you can use. Your primary weapon which consists of scythes and your secondary weapon, your secondary weapon provides more options such as heavy weapons like hammers or if you’re like me (awesome) you’ll prefer the really fast striking buckers or claws. Combat feels smooth but is let down by a small selection of enemies, more camera issues and sometimes a lowering of the frame rate. Being Death himself you can perform special moves that you can learn or unlock. These special moves are performed by using different combinations of the face buttons. Using these moves require wrath, which is essentially the mana of Darksiders.
Much like the special moves, Death can perform quite a few neat other tricks. When travelling through the world you can summon your horse to make your journey go faster, you also unlock a gun that is really useful for platforming sequences and shooting down enemies. For all the good Death can do, he cannot sprint. Which in a game like Darksiders is near criminal. Remember those games where you don’t move fast at all and you keep pushing the evade or roll button? Well, Darksiders II will bring back those memories. You will forever be pressing evade to move around quicker in the world. It’s silly that Death moves so slow, as my grandmother would say, it’s silly as a two-bob watch.
Darksiders II features quite a few RPG elements that are implemented almost perfectly. As you bring death to everything that moves you gain XP points and level up. Each time you level up you are awarded a skill point that you can use to unlock abilities in the skill tree menu. These new abilities include upgraded and new attacks, such as a special move that has Death swinging a gigantic scythe in a circle bringing devastation on those who are in its range. Arguably the greatest feature of Darksiders II is the loot system, not only is the world littered with treasure chests full of goodies, but when you walk near them a small menu pops up and gives you the items stats, compares the stats with your current item and gives you the option to equip it without entering the inventory menu. It’s a really good feature that makes the game extremely smooth as you’re not forever sifting through menu items.
Graphically, Darksiders II isn’t going to win any awards, but that’s not to say it looks bad. The colours and art style are nice, but the game can stutter on the frame rate. The game seems to throw more enemies at you than it can handle. Frame rate drops are not that common, but they’re a significant hindrance. The many dungeons you find yourself in will start to feel repetitive, but it’s balanced out by some amazing looking environments. The characters look and sound great and provide some nice conversations that progress the story. The soundtrack composed by legendary composer, Jesper Kyd is also very nice and provides epic music for epic moments.
Darksiders II is a really great game. The gameplay is solid and it’s just a really fun game to play. While it may seem repetitive, it’s still a blast to play a game that combines different genres so well. If you’re a fan of similar games like God of War and Zelda, you’ll love this. It may stumble a bit, but it picks itself up and provides hours and hours of entertainment.