The original Darksiders was an unexpected hit upon its release in 2010, with little hype or fanfare.
It proved to be a great action title with its mixture of game styles and brilliant art direction from comic book legend, Joe Madureira.
Featuring one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, War, Darksiders ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, with fans clamouring for more. Well fear not, Darksiders II is upon us.
Darksiders II runs parallel to the story of Darksiders with you now controlling Death, War's brother and fellow horseman of the apocalypse. With War incarcerated, Death sets out to prove his brother's innocence by finding the truth behind what happened and righting some wrongs.
I could go into detail about the story, but I'll leave that for you to discover as the story is fairly enjoyable and well told. I can definitely say that a lot of attention was paid to the plot and the general mythology of the Darksiders II universe, especially for a game that is essentially an action game.
I was really sucked up by the narrative and the excellent voice work. Another nice touch is the fact that the game recaps events for you, like an episode of a TV series, whenever you continue your game.
When it comes to gameplay, the original Darksiders was criticised for borrowing from other games quite heavily, but I for one welcomed it as these borrowed elements were well executed. I'm happy to report that Darksiders II continues this trend.
Combat is very similar to games like God of War and Devil may Cry, with Death using various versions of two scythes as his main weapon and a variety of other weapons like maces, gauntlets and hammers as his secondary weapon.
You can mix your main and secondary weapons to form extensive combos to destroy your enemies, and unlike most games in the action genre, the game actually encourages you to experiment with intricate combos, as some of them can be quite devastating.
Also, in true role-playing game fashion, dead enemies drop random loot which could give you other weapons or gilt (the game's currency). Weapons and gilt can also be found in chests and other breakables found scattered around the world.
A cool new feature is that the stats of found weapons are displayed before you pick them up, meaning you can compare them to your current equipped weapons without having to access an in-game menu.
Death also has the acrobatic ability of, say Prince of Persia, where he can run on walls, navigate platforms and perform crazy jumps. He also has his faithful horse, Despair, to travel at a faster speed in the open areas. As you progress you will also gain access to abilities that will allow you to reach areas that you could not previously reach (in true Castlevania/Zelda fashion).
Death is going to need all his skills to navigate the world in this game, because it is huge. Roughly three times the size of the original game, Darksiders II will keep you busy for about 30 hours plus (including side quests). Thankfully, a fast-travel system has been implemented to make travelling easier.
And this massive game isn't all combat, with many dungeons testing your puzzle-solving skills too. Whilst not too difficult, the puzzles will have you scratching your head quite often.
Role-playing has been improved too, as you now have dialogue options when speaking to other characters, as well as the aforementioned side-quests. Speaking of side-quests, Darksiders II has some of the best, as some were so well fleshed-out that it felt like part of the main quest.
Another role-playing feature lets you level up your character during combat, unlocking skill points which lets you unlock new, well... skills. Some weapons called "possessed weapons" can also be upgraded by sacrificing lesser weapons. As you can see, there is so much going on in the game that it can be a tad overwhelming if you were expecting a straightforward hack-and-slash title.
I have to mention what a great job Michael Wincott has done in voicing Death. Better known as a villain in Hollywood movies like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, his raspy voice really suits Death and had me do things on purpose just to hear him say one of his cool lines like "This is no place for a horse."
Voice acting in general is of high calibre and made everything believable. Graphics don't disappoint either, with the same amazing art style used in the first game, just with a less "comic book" style.
The only negatives I can levy against the game is the fact that it might be too big for some. The game also has some performance issues like freezing occasionally (on PS3 and Xbox 360, even with the new update). Luckily the game has frequent checkpoints so starting up where you left off is a breeze.
Also, although still amazing, some of the quests do boil down to you collecting three of this or three of that to progress further. But you'll be having so much fun that you won't mind doing these menial tasks.
I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed this game. Its combination of ideas borrowed from other games means that there is something here for everyone. If you're after collectibles, this game has it in spades. If you want epic boss fights with few quick time events, this is your game. You want it, this game has it. Easily a contender for game of the year - for me at least.
Score: 9 out of 10