Game Review: Darksiders 2
Darksiders was a great game. Not only did it have a good story going for it, the gameplay was a nice blend of hack n’ slash and dungeon exploring much like the Legend of Zelda series. Of course as with most sequels, Darksiders 2 aims to be a bigger game in scope. However bigger does not always mean better and Darksiders 2’s attempt at being bigger hurts it in more ways than one.
The story in Darksiders 2 does not pick up after the events of the first game which is odd for a sequel. Instead it tells the story of War’s brother and fellow horsemen, Death, in his attempts to restore humanity and set his brother free from his wrongful punishment. The story takes place parallel to the events in the first game, with plenty of references to characters from Darksiders. However Death must also face a new threat on his journey that not only hinders his original mission, but also threatens to destroy other worlds. The story overall is okay. The pacing is uneven, with often times nothing of importance happening for quite a while. There are a lot more characters in this game however they seem to just be there for the sake of having someone for Death to interact with as suppose to making the game world feel alive. The main antagonist only appears twice in the game and the game ends on a very anticlimactic note. Frankly the developers should have just continued the story from the first game and kept the series as War’s story.
There is an overall improvement to the gameplay. Here, Vigil Games chose to add an RPG element to the game. Death levels up throughout the game by gaining experience from defeating enemies and completing quests. You can boost Death’s stats by equipping stronger weapons and equipment. The equipment you have even changes Death’s appearance which is a nice touch. Along the way you’ll gain more items that can be used in combat and will be required to solve many puzzles in the dungeons. The game has a quest system which features main storyline quests and side quests that will allow you to gain better equipment and explore new areas. The side quests vary from being fun to being tedious. Some quests will have you constantly going back and forth between places so expect to use the game’s fast travel system a lot. The ability to change equipment to affect your stats allows the player to customize their fighting style that you want. Death has abilities that can be leveled up with skill points that you gain. You have physical abilities and magic abilities such as summoning souls to help you fight. Of course you’ll have the ability to change into Death’s reaper form allowing you to deal massive damage for a short time. Also there are more enemies in this game though of course you’ll run into the occasional palette swap later in the game.
The biggest issue I had with the gameplay was the platforming. There seemed to be a delay between inputting the actions on the controller and when Death would react on screen. This was really frustrating during moments of having to climb up walls and the transitions were not smooth as in games such as the Prince of Persia series. Also a huge letdown in the gameplay department was the boss fights. These had to be the easiest boss fights I’ve played this year. Regular enemies posed more of a challenge than any of the bosses. The only strategy required was to dodge and attack. Same applies for the optional boss fights in the game which would normally pose a great challenge, but instead just had tougher defenses than the main bosses. And don’t even get me started on how anticlimactic the final boss fight is.
The overall design of the game is good, but fell short in comparison to the first game. The developers fell into the train of thought that by making a game world bigger it automatically makes it better. But the world has to feel as though it has life to it in order to work. Here most of the areas just feel lifeless and dull. There is just too much empty space which only serves to connect the dungeons. There is not much to explore thus using the fast travel system becomes all too common. In the first game you truly felt as though you were in a battle ground between Heaven and Hell. Here the lands are just a bunch of mountains with broken down buildings every now and then. Considering the mythology the developers were working with, I would have expected more creativity when it came to designing these worlds. It seems more time was spent on designing the dungeons which were well designed. The puzzles worked well keeping up with the design from the first game. The music throughout the game worked well for the most part though Jesper Kyd has done better work in other games. The voice acting however is top notch with Death sounding really awesome and badass.
Overall Darksiders 2 is still a fun game worth playing. But I expected much better from Vigil after the awesome outing they gave is in the first game. The fighting is fast and furious and you do feel like Death dishing out punishment to all the characters that for some reason always feel the need to underestimate him (hello he’s the freaking Horsemen of Death for a reason!). The game fell short in the design end with world’s just feeling empty and lifeless. I would still say check it out, but give it a rental or borrow it from a friend.