The original Darksiders was a sleeper hit among fans which took the vengeance story and button mashing from the likes of God Of War and Devil May Cry and stuck it within the story of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to create a balance between Heaven and Hell. Darksiders 2 takes many elements from the original while adding a few unique and new aspects. Is it enough to make the second entry stand out or has Death put this title to rest already?
Darksiders 2 takes place moments after the first title and players take control of another horseman, Death. It is up to Death to find out what has happened to his brother, War and seek revenge. Death is referred to as The Rider in many instances and conversations. The original was often compared to Zelda for its platforming and free roaming aspect mixed with puzzles and enemies and seemingly a gadget which needed to be acquired in every dungeon. Darksiders 2 is similar in those ways while adding additional aspects which add an RPG like element to the mix with leveling and skill trees. Death has an overall XP bar which can be raised by completing story quests, side quests that you will come across as well as defeating enemies. Every time you level up you are given a skill point to spend on the skill tree under Harbinger set or Necromancer set. Necromancer skills usually involve using the undead to do your bidding while Harbinger utilizes Deaths reaping skills and utilizes his true form for many of the skills. The main area where you will gather for new quests, learn new attacks from allies, and purchase and trade items/gear is The Forge at the beginning but it will change as you progress.
Gear that Death picks up throughout his journey will be virtually different with every player. The primary weapon for him will be his Scythe which attacks with square/X and a secondary weapon can be used with triangle once acquired. Secondary weapons can be purchased with gold from quests and defeating enemies, or by drops from defeating random and more powerful enemies. These weapons range from hammers, to axes, and armblades among other weapons, each have a rarity level displayed by the color of the weapons name and can have statistical effects like bleeding damage, electrical, fire or ice damage among other things. Gear is also dropped and can have statistical effects other than defense same as weapons, there is gear for Deaths torso (armor), arms (gloves), shoulders, boots, and talismans. As you progress and level up the drops for gear and weapons become better, also certain gear and weapons are ‘possessed’ and can be leveled up by sacrificing other equipment. Every player within Darksiders 2 will have different looks and playstyle based upon gear and weapon selection which adds a ton of replay value right off the bat.
Gameplay in Darksiders 2 is very enjoyable as the original had players basically playing a tank within War. He was great but in comparison Death is a ton more agile and enjoyable to play as since his attacks are a lot more fluid. On and off his steed, Despair which he summons from the depths of the earth. The diverse gear and weaponry gives Death more depth in gameplay than its predecessor. As you progress through the story you will come across large areas to traverse and several types of collectibles as well as areas where you may not be able to progress until you gather key pieces of Gear, like Redemption a pistol belonging to Deaths brother, Strife and the Deathgrip ability to swing from high ceiling hooks. These sorts of gear can be quick mapped to the R2 button and used in battle. Death can also transform into his true form once his Reaper gauge is full. This ability first has to be unlocked by story progression. Collectibles range from mystical stones, to pages from the Book Of The Dead and only serve to coax the player into exploring. One great moment I had while exploring was coming across a mini-boss which was so well hidden and powerful I was afraid to ever return there again until I leveled up some more and gathered better gear. This serves as a lesson, never be too ambitious as in Darksiders 2 danger can be around every corner. Another means of getting around the vast world of Darksiders 2 is to fast travel, you can fast travel once you have discovered a new area by simply going to it on the map screen, and you can also fast travel from within dungeons. There are quite a few boss and mini-boss battles in Darksiders 2 and everyone is better than the last. Fans will enjoy figuring out weaknesses and defeating enemies, especially the bigger ones.
Graphically Darksiders 2 follows the same template set out by its predecessor. The art style is still comic and artistic however graphically it is deeper and more detailed. The vast environments require little to no loading and cutscenes play out within dramatic set pieces. The presentation just adds to the story and immersion. The voice talent for the main and supporting characters is excellent as they all put feelings into their lines which helps bring the story to life.
There is more to Darksiders 2 than a lengthy campaign, there is the Crucible mode, Tomes, and leaderboard features. The leaderboard features are basic but allow you to see game completion and stats like kills, deaths and various other stats you can compare globally or within your friends list. Tomes is a great way to help out friends whom are just taking on the journey with Death. Players can go to Tome which are located throughout the world and access a messaging system which allows players to send each other weapons and gear as long as they have Darksiders 2. It is rather genius and is a great way to show a friend you care. Crucible mode is essentially Arena mode and more of it is unlocked as you progress. There are one-hundred waves total and every five waves you are given a decision to either press on and take on the next five or quit now and claim your reward. Rewards differ every time but usually are a rare gear or weapon. The prize is said to be great for the warrior who can beat all one-hundred waves and the prize is greater for the one who can do it in one go seeing as the Crucible saves your progress once you complete a set of waves.
Darksiders 2 has come out on top of its predecessor as a towering achievement of gameplay, addiction and content that any gamer should be happy to have. The purchase of the title speaks for itself as content is spewing from the sides as the replay value created by the gear system along with the leveling is enough to garner at least two or three playthroughs. During the summer drought of gaming you would be hard pressed to find a game better deserving of your hard earned cash than Darksiders 2.
Audio/Visual – 5/5: The soundtrack is full of epic hymns and orchestral poundings that are perfect for Death to take his fury out on. The voice acting is top grade all around and the action sounds brutal as one can imagine.
Gameplay – 5/5: Darksiders 2 is everything we could have hoped for in a sequel with re-defined control over the character, vast environments to explore with tons of side-quests and options. Once you allow Darksiders 2 to pull you into the universe it will be hard for you to let go.
Innovation – 5/5: Innovation maybe a bad way to phrase it as Darksiders 2 takes elements from RPGS and works it into the action hack and slash type of game and creates something more out of. The gear and weapon drop system is something that no other game in the genre does. The boss battles are towering and intimidating all the while still making the player feel like a bad-ass.
Value – 5/5: The campaign alone racks in well over fifteen hours even on a speed run for the average gamer. The replay is heightened by unique gear drops and weaponry that make every playthrough different coupled with the leveling system that even can change play styles from a up close to a ranged style of Death summoning the minions from afar. Add in leaderboards, side-quests, and the Crucible and you have a game packed full to the brim worth every dollar when you go to the store.
Final Score: 5/5