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Friday | September 21, 2018
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Darksiders (PS3)

Darksiders (PS3)

Darksiders is a game which is going to appeal to a relatively large audience, comparisons have already been made with classic titles such as Castlevania, Shadow of the Colossus and God Of War so expectations are high.

Developer Vigil Games are new on the scene but with the help of legendary comic artist Joe Madureira the game literally oozes graphic quality right out of the box. The theme is set for a moody post apocalyptic setting with barren landscapes and a very stylised environment which almost feels hand painted. Unlike most games in this genre however there is a nice splash of colour throughout the environments which really help enhance the overall mood of the game.

The first hour or so is rather drab however as most of the environmental designs are a rather mundane mixture of browns and greys and the combat is slow to take off. This serves however as an introduction to the basics of Darksiders and once the game offers new weaponry and more detailed moves then it really starts to shine. Your character “War” is a fearsome, dominating warrior who can handle almost any situation without getting overpowered. You can call upon your steed ‘Ruin’ from time to time to help you in tricky situations – for the most part he is used as a quick travel option but he also makes an appearance during some boss battles.

The combat system in a game like this is so integral to the overall immersion that it is important the developers don’t bog it down with convoluted systems and mechanics. Thankfully they have a streamlined and tight combat system in place which works fantastically well and as your skills grow and develop the scope of the control methodology expands to match. You have an action button for instance which lets you interact with the environment and there is also a button to jump and another for the main attacks with your weapon of choice, the Soul Eater sword. The control methodology often works around the basis of timing and structure – for instance if you incorporate attacks correctly you can take down opponent after opponent from the air, without touching the ground. The shoulder buttons also offer counter attacks which mean that this stringing of attacks in close succession can be further enhanced.

When an opponent is stunned and near death you can use finisher moves to achieve a very gory one hit kill, which again just has to be timed correctly to be successful. The combat system therefore has been well optimised and play tested as it is complex enough to reward those who put time into learning how it all gels together. You can still play it with a ‘button mashing’ approach however the finer nuances will be missed. It is worth pointing out however that setting the game to the highest difficulty level will negate any button mashers, as the AI will punish those who try and do so.

The combat is not all perfect however because once you get access to the War Chaos demonic form you can transform into a beast who is basically unstoppable. Granted this is connected to your Chaos Gauge which has to be filled before changing forms however later on it can be refilled with only a few well structured attacks so you can end up basically invincible for most of the combat time. Cranking the difficulty level higher to Apocalyptic mode means that the game is much more difficult and will prove more challenging to combat veterans.

There are other weapons on offer, such as the Crossblade which can be thrown into a group of enemies and the Tremor Gauntlet can be used to break open blue crystals which you see blocking paths in the environments. Every new weapon you earn lets you access other parts of the environment which were previously blocked or unavailable.

Darksiders also has its fair share of puzzles in place which anyone familiar with one of these games will immediately feel comfortable with. You have to move crates, slow time and raise water for instance to get access to specific areas and there is a certain ‘Tomb Raider’ appeal to some of this which I found instantly enjoyable. The puzzles are never so obscure that you need to turn to an online walk through guide but they are challenging enough to make sure you use whatever portion of grey matter you have. Sadly some of the options such as slow mo aren’t used enough and only appear a few times in the game when solving puzzles.

Throughout the game you have specific access areas where you can interact with Vulgrim, a demon who will take captured souls for all kinds of goodies. You can also use these areas to fast travel between specific sections of the environment if you need to double back. Purchasing new abilities is one of the most fun parts of the game because you have opportunities to change or even enhance your game play combat style, if you want a new weapon you can buy it, or if you particularly love one series of abilities you already have then you can improve it.

The boss battles deserve special mention because they are totally epic in nature – helped by the sweeping vista landscapes which really do help to set the mood for the battles throughout. The landscapes are so richly detailed and wonderfully designed that it is difficult to imagine them looking any better, something which I wouldn’t often say.

Darksiders is a brilliant game and a perfect way for me to end the year – the level of polish and graphical finesse really is second to none. It certainly couldn’t be classed as an original concept but that doesn’t matter when the game is this much fun to play. There are some minor flaws, but they are greatly outnumbered by the wealth of memorable environments, boss battles and stellar game play mechanics. Highly Recommended.


Variety is good and the core mechanics are solid.
A nicely detailed engine which runs well on both consoles and looks beautiful.
Solid voice work and the score is fitting for the genre.
15-17 hours of gameplay time, pretty decent.

A solid game which deserves your attention.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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