To Save One’s Brother: Death’s Journey—Darksiders 2
Once again your favorite geek is steeping himself in the realms of the occult. Not totally mind you, my goat’s blood shipment has yet to arrive, so my pentagram is made of ketchup and scented candles. We work with what we have. Most people know that I love me some evil beings, but today’s review is going to be slightly different. Under normal circumstances, the four Horseman are considered harbingers of the end of times, and rightfully so. However, in the Darksiders universe, the Horseman are troubled entities who live with the fact that they were needed to slay and stop their Nephilim brothers and sisters for the sake of balance. They are still destined to bring about the end of man, but not in the way that you may think. Let’s take a look by doing a slight journey into the past.
In the first Darksiders, you play as War, brother to Death. Without any spoilers, you are framed for bringing about the end of days. Obviously, this is not the case as you soon find out there are more nefarious things mucking about. On your journey to clear your name and make things right, you come across a slew of excellent characters (Samael!) and bring swift justice to hordes of demon and angel alike. After all is said and done , War looks to stand alone against everything that threatens to destroy the balance and bring an end to the kingdom of man. As he looks to the sky in preparation for his lonely battle, he realizes that he is not alone…but one of Four. I won’t say any more on the first game, but trust me, it is a great game and can be picked up dirt cheap now. Go get it!
When Darksiders 2 was announced, I was ecstatic. I loved the first game and couldn’t wait to follow War into battle again. I was somewhat disappointed though when I learned that War would not be in this game, as it would be a side along ride to his journey. When I learned that Death would be the protagonist in this adventure…I became slightly hard. My favorite horseman behind Pestilence (Stryfe in the Darksiders universe, although I refuse to use that name) was Death, so obviously I was excited again. News broke that Death would be riding to clear his brother’s name and right the wrongs of his past deeds (the Kinslaying), and his story would be side by side with War’s. I was a little skeptical but those notions were dashed as soon as I started playing.
Death’s journey begins when he realizes his brother is innocent and decides to uncover the truth on his own, as no support is given by the Charred Council. Everyone is content to believe War brought about the destruction, except Death, who vows to find the truth. Beginning with a meeting with the Crowfather (so awesome) Death’s path is set in motion and his goal is clearly defined. Find those responsible, and drown them in blood and death. That sentence alone should make you go and buy it right now. War was made for battle, but Death revels in it. The story itself can be a little weak sometimes, however it is made more impactful mainly because when there is an actual story driven part, it is that much more important. Twists come and go, characters bounce around in their allegiances, and Death becomes a compelling character in his own right. Not through speech or cut scenes, but by the sheer awesomeness and creepiness he exudes. Death’s head is always slightly cocked to the side, which I thought was a wonderful little touch and also very creepy. Kudos to the developers for that.
Although the story can be a little iffy sometimes, the place the game excels and shines on is in the combat.
Death brings with him an arsenal far greater than War’s. The sheer amount of weapons and armor he can equip is staggering, only trumped by hack and slash specific games like Torchlight (LOVE) and Diablo. He is not opposed to long range or close range combat as he excels in both. Whether it be summoning a murder of crows to peck out the eyes of his enemies, or turning into his “true” form and bringing all who oppose him to a fearful end. Collecting and equipping armor and weapons invokes a sense of glee and purpose. You will look through every nook and cranny looking for chests or rare items. “Possessed” weapons are some of the items you will find, that literally take a life of their own. Sacrificing other weapons to possessed ones increases their abilities and power, making them highly sought after. The combat itself always feels fluid and smooth, and just makes you feel like nothing can stand in your way. The game is not a cakewalk, as you can definitely get your ass kicked by some of the denizens of the game world, but you never feel hunkered down or weak. Each hit connects with oomph and finishing moves provide a nice little cinematic that showcases Death’s brutality. On the subject of quick time events and one button executions, Darksiders 2 has some of the best ones. The pacing of them and the fact that it doesn’t happen all the time makes it so much sweeter and fun. Being bogged down by quick time events can get boring and monotonous (sorry Resident Evil, that needs to stop), but DS2 uses them less frequently and to great effect.
Much like in the first Darksiders, platforming and puzzles provide a nice break in the combat, but not to a point where they are overwhelming. One thing I kept noticing was that just as I felt like I needed some battle to break up the puzzles, the game would answer in kind and send a horde to the slaughter. It is the same in vice versa as well, as just when you get slightly bored of combat, a puzzle will appear. It is a very nice balance and pace that makes everything stay fresh, and gives it to you right at the exact moment you need it. Death swings, climbs, runs, and moves with absolute grace. Camera problems aside(not many, but sometimes), Death moves with the balance and grace of a ballerina…while carrying scythes and an assortment of other instruments of pain. Learning abilities that help him traverse the landscape and make his way towards his goal come at proper times and can really make you think (Soulsplitter, I’m looking at you). Nothing is ever too hard, but never too easy.
The story itself ends at the same time the first game ends. I won’t spoil anything for my readers, as I am sure this review will most likely make you all go buy this game, but I will say the end of the second game was a little less impactful if you have played the first, mainly because you slightly know what is going to happen. But don’t let that ruin it for you. It is a fantastic game and should be a part of all of your libraries. Besides, we all know an apple is going to be a core at the end of it (spoilers!), but that won’t stop you from taking the amazing journey there. Until next time kiddies, keep your blades sharp, and your wits sharper.
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