Ever since my Short Pause compatriot Frankie Ailor told me that Darksiders is heavily inspired by The Legend of Zelda series, it's been on my radar as a game that I needed to experience at some point. Now, with the release of the ridiculously-titled "Warmastered Edition," I finally had that opportunity. Having played through the campaign, I must say that Frankie was right. Darksiders wears its Zelda influences on its sleeve, from the dungeons and boss battles to the items and upgrades you obtain, to the way those items help you explore and interact with the world. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Darksiders is a Zelda clone. The game does bring some different ideas to the table, and it feels very different from any Zelda game I've played.
Title: Darksiders - Warmastered Edition
Release Date: 11/22/16
Developer: Kaiko (Port), Vigil Games (Original Developer)
Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed), PS4, PC
In Darksiders you take up the role of War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. After being accused of bringing about the apocalypse prematurely, War goes on a quest for revenge to expose the ones responsible for setting him up. If I'm being honest, the story was by far the weakest aspect of this game. Even though there is a fantastic voice cast involved (including Troy Baker, Phil Lamarr and Mark Hamill) and a few interesting characters (especially Hamill as The Watcher), I just didn't care about War as a character. Little effort was put into humanizing him or making him relatable as a protagonist. As a result, I never felt invested in what was happening to him. Having said that, I still enjoyed Darksiders quite a bit. The weak story did not detract too much from the overall fun of the game.
Unlike Zelda games, Darksiders employs a more combo-focused, hack-and-slash type of approach to its combat system. You can tap the Attack button to wail away at enemies with War's Chaoseater blade, or hold the button down to launch them upwards where you can continue the combo while airborne. After you purchase the scythe, it can be assigned to your Heavy Attack button for wide, sweeping attacks that can hit multiple enemies. You can use the dodge button to dash out of the way of enemy attacks to avoid damage. When an enemy has taken enough hits, you might receive a button prompt to dispatch them with a brutal finishing move. Once you build up your Rage meter, you have the ability to transform into your Chaos form — a huge monster with a flaming sword — in which you can dole out massive damage for a few precious seconds. All of these combat mechanics combine to make for some fast-paced and fun action gameplay.
In the course of War's revenge quest, he explores a variety of different environments, all of which have ominous-sounding names, such as "Scalding Gallow" or "The Choking Grounds." There are several dungeons you will be required to explore, each containing a new item to help War in his quest. In true Zelda fashion, you must use the item found in that dungeon to not only further explore the area, but also to defeat the boss. As you defeat enemies and open chests, you collect souls, which serve a number of different purposes. Green souls replenish your health. Yellow souls refill your Wrath gauge (not to be confused with Rage, the Wrath gauge is a power meter used for special attacks and abilities). Finally, blue souls serve as the currency for the game, which War can trade for upgrades, consumables, and new combo moves.
Another thing that separates Darksiders from the Zelda games of the world is the increased focus on combat over puzzles. Whereas in each dungeon in a Zelda game you will have to stop and think about how to get through each room, Darksiders prefers to challenge you by throwing multiple waves of increasingly difficult enemies in your direction. Granted, there are a few puzzling moments to be found in War's quest, but those are few and far between when compared to the bevy of melee combat found throughout. I personally prefer a game that makes me think a little more, but I still enjoyed the technical challenge of taking down hordes of enemies. I found some of these encounters to be even more challenging than the boss fights themselves. Even on Normal difficulty, I struggled a few times until I worked out a good strategy for victory. For example, you may be tempted to unleash your Chaos Form when you have five skeletons and a sword-wielding ghost bearing down on you, but it might be better to save it for the heavily-armored demons that pop up in the next wave. There are a few segments where the game attempts to break up the monotony of hacking and slashing, but they don't always pay off. There is one sequence in particular — where War is riding a Griffin and shooting at flying angels and demons — that dragged on for way too long.
Seeing as how this is a remastered version of a last-gen game, it seems appropriate to note that the games runs smoothly and looks great. I only noticed a few times where there was any sort of slowdown while loading a new area of the map. I didn't play the game in its original incarnation, but the visuals seem pretty crisp, if that's something you're concerned about.
Overall, I thought Darksiders was a fun game that brings its own flavor to the tried-and-true Zelda formula. Despite a slightly weak story, I found it to be engaging and challenging throughout. Considering that it's only $20, I can definitely recommend that you check it out, especially if you're a Zelda fan.
We reviewed Darksiders: Warmastered Edition on Xbox One using a digital code that was provided to us by our friends at Evolve PR.
- Cool Upgrades
- Fast Paced Combat
- Interesting Dungeons
- Weak Narrative
- Needs More Puzzles