Death rocks in Darksiders II

Rating: M
Genre: Platformer/RPG
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Vigil Games
Release Date: August 14, 2012


The Quick bite: “Darksiders II is a huge platformer/RPG that gamers will love to play and get themselves lost in.”

Up to this point, myself and CrunchyChocobo have had the pleasure of seeing early stages of Darksiders II. We’ve written about the plot line and some vague points both here and here. CrunchyChocobo’s write up is a bit more recent and she was allowed much more gameplay time than I was. But between the two previews you can definitely tell this is a game for GamingAngels readers to get excited about.

For the quick rundown, in Darksiders II, you play as Death, one of the brothers of the four horseman. He is on a mission to clear his brother, War’s name from the events that took place in the first Darksiders. If you haven’t played the first Darksiders, pick it up as well. Although, as CrunchyChocobo pointed out, if the first one frustrated you to no end, you should give Darksiders II a chance because it may win your heart.

One thing that was stressed at each meeting is that Vigil Games was aiming higher with Darksiders II. Everything about the title feels more “epic”. The world is more open for exploration and just looking around you can feel how much larger the world/game is. There is so much to do that it’s easy to go off the beaten track and explore. In fact, you are often rewarded for exploring. The map system shows where you are in relation to the quests and you can pick different quests to make a priority if you want. One thing that bothered me about the mini-map is that there was no visual representation of enemies. I can hear them, but if they appeared behind me, I’d have no idea really until I got hit. Most of the time you can see the enemies around you (there aren’t hidden battles), but when you are exploring, you don’t always look behind you. Personally, I get very nervous when it comes to open world games. This thankfully is not a fully open world game, but I get anxiety just by having the freedom to do whatever I want. This is where my favorite character of the game comes in….Dust. I <3 Dust so much. Dust is a crow and is Death's personal navigation system. You can "call" Dust when you are stuck and need some guidance as to where you should go next, or you can not use him at all. Dust helped keep my anxiety calm while I explored, I knew the Dust could always help me get back on track for the main quest. Plus I love that it's such a simple, yet non-invasive way to assist the gamer. The soundtrack to the game is composed by Jesper Kyd. He's also worked on games like Assassin's Creed and Borderlands (I and II). Jesper does an amazing job of making the soundtrack follow the epic feeling of the game. Never is it overpowering. It's the perfect compliment to this game. It's pretty amazing and I read that the soundtrack is available for purchase as a 2-cd set.

The weapon system in Darksiders II is really interesting. You come across various weapons that have different strengths to them. It’s one button action to pick up a found weapon or to equip it. Some weapons have “special” attributes, and other weapons are “possessed”. I like my possessed weapons. Here you have the opportunity to not only “level up” your weapon but once the meter fills you can also pick what attributes you want your weapon to possess. Personally, I find the possessed weapons to be the most fun to use in the game. If you play with possessed weapons, it seems like weapons that have a special attribute will fill your meter quicker than normal items. So be on the hunt for those. I fed one possessed weapon to another and the game double checked me asking if I was sure I wanted to use it for the other. Weapons can vary in terms of speed, so you will want to make sure you balance and find what attack method you like to use. I use the slower weapon to clear groups of enemies, and then kill them individually with the fast scythes.

When I first played Darksiders II at a community event, they placed us a few hours into the game, so I missed out on all the beginning tutorials that teach you the controls. I knew at that moment, I was in trouble. I’m not a natural with controls on a game. I have to learn them, try them, and repeat before I am proficient. To some, like my husband, this makes me a bad gamer. To that I say…whatever. lol I remember being nervous at the event that all these other game journalists were going to eat me alive. But I had nothing to worry because they struggled too! It’s not to say that the game controls are difficult. They are easy to learn when you go through the entire game. The game does a great job of introducing controls or making suggestions on how something could be done. Once, I got caught in a conversation with someone in the middle of an explanation, thereby completely missing out on how to do a certain move. But that only happened once. I actually giggled last night while playing when I climbed a wall, jumped from three ledges, ran along a wall, jumped, ran, and jumped again to get to my destination when I did it with ease. Once you master the controls, you really feel and look for various places to go. One recommendation is always look up! Lots of great reward boxes or things to pick up are in high off places that are interesting to get to using a combination of the controls. Even though Death is a rather large dude, I felt very agile and quick with him. I never felt slowed down or unable to get out of the way if I needed to (the control to move out of the way can be your bff).

Overall, I love Darksiders II and can’t recommend you to play it enough. I do have to be honest though, I have not finished the game. As you may notice, I don’t typically do reviews. But real life has hit GamingAngels and we’re all pitching in. I have been battling being immensely tired every night which I guess is common in the first/early second trimester. Like get home from work and go to bed two hours later tired. This barely leaves time for gaming or really living. Another interesting tidbit that I’ve been thinking of writing about, is that until now, I haven’t played a game since E3. I haven’t been inspired and I’ve been too tired to even bother. But Darksiders II is a special experience that made me want to play it. I remember during the hands on (only a couple of hours), Matthew from THQ telling me that the event is over and I have to stop playing and I didn’t want to. At that moment, I knew this game was special and the released version of the game is no exception. I actually played for most of my Saturday (but then I had to clean the house…because it was a mess). I haven’t had a gaming Saturday since I can remember. And it felt soooo good. I’m not going to say that I’m amazing at this game. There are times where the puzzles were too hard for me (thank god for an amazing Prima Guide that I can’t recommend enough!), but when I read in the guide how to get past the puzzle, it always helped me for the next one. It was definitely a full learning experience.

I will do an update when I finish the title, but I hope that you can respect my honest review here for you. Vigil Games set out to make a title that kicked ass, and in my opinion, they definitely achieved that.

Here are three areas that I haven’t tried yet and a brief description of both:
The Crucible is an arena where warriors can fight and prove their abilities. There are 100 levels and after every fifth level, you are rewarded with an item if you quit, or you can pass and try the next level. Lose, and you have to start all over. Completing the Crucible will unlock the “Death’s Mask Avatar” award for XBLA/PSN.

The Tomes is an in-game emailing system. So you can send friends messages and items.

Lastly, when you start playing the game, you have to create a linked THQ account that THQ warns you that they are able to track and take information from your gameplay. I think this is the only thing I was not happy about in the game. I feel like I shouldn’t need to create an account just to take advantage of a single player experience. But they do that because they have created game leaderboards. These boards track worldwide player ranks for things like highest combo or fastest game completion. I would suggest that in the future THQ gives you a choice as to if you would like to participate and if not, then you are not forced to link your account.