Darksiders 2 Review

Combat has its ups and downs, but is generally a good time. Death unlocks a number of abilities that will allow you to take advantage of a number of strategies. You can go straight melee, linking together fast attacks with his two weapons and throwing in a few special abilities like a teleportation strike. Or you can summon zombies and crows to fight for you, evening the odds a little. You earn skill points to unlock and increase these powers, and while it’s possible to unlock every ability, doing so means each ability remains at its weakest.

There’s a ton of depth in Darksiders 2, something that really plays in its favor. It’s linked together by open world elements that have you exploring for hidden objects and completing sidequests, which is nice to break up the primary flow of the game, which is to pound through dungeons finding ways to open doors. The world of Darksiders 2 is a nice place to visit, with lots of variety.

Lots of little issues hold back the whole, however. Combat is fun, but the combat camera is a homicidal sociopath and always seems bent on rotating just as you’re hoping to dodge an enemy coming in for the kill. This gets irritating quite often, especially when you’re forced to fight in one of the smaller venues into which Darksiders 2 routinely boxes you. The camera bounces sporadically off the walls or pins itself in corners, where Death gets cut apart. This happens all the time.

Level design, too, is often far more complex than necessary, and this leads to wasted player time. Sometimes maps are clever; other times, they’re just a confusing maze in which all the doors and passages look the same and the path forward isn’t clear. Death brings along a somewhat unreliable crow whose job is to point him toward the next proper door, but that crow often gets just as lost as the player. At least there’s a fast-travel option to instantly depart a dungeon and head to the next objective.

It’s been well-documented that Vigil’s PC port of Darksiders 2 is lackluster at best. There are virtually no graphical controls and it seems what you can alter — V-Sync, specifically — doesn’t, uh, actually work. The mouse-and-keyboard control setup isn’t great, either. I’d cleared a big chunk of the game before I finally realized where the menu for remapping buttons was (it’s couched with your inventory and skill menus for some reason), and really, Darksiders 2 was built for a control pad and it feels like a control pad game. Vigil might be releasing a patch to add more PC options, but for the moment, this is just a console game you can play on PC. The experience is probably a better one with a gamepad in hand, and possibly with that game pad connected to a console.

In terms of the game as a whole, the little irritants pile up, scouring away at the fun Darksiders 2 presents. And it is fun, often throwing out giant boss fights and beautiful scenery. The fun things and the annoying ones seem to cancel each other, and the remainder of Darksiders 2 is a long and deep game filled specifically with tried-and-true elements. The troublesome thing, perhaps, is that we’ve been playing this game for two whole generations now. There’s nothing in Darksiders 2 that hasn’t been done somewhere else — done with more novelty, certainly, and perhaps with more tact and intelligence too.

But Darksiders 2 will keep you busy a long time — my fairly sidequest-less run lasted just shy of 24 hours. And it excels in competency of its many elements. It’s by no means bad, even with its annoyances. But it adds nothing to the conversation of gaming.

Pros:

  • Huge world with lots to do
  • Combat is generally fun and deep
  • Lots of loot to find
  • Big bosses to kill
  • Beautiful (if confusing) worlds

Cons:

  • Confusing, somewhat nonsensical story
  • Maze-like level design gets frustrating
  • Indecisive, schizophrenic combat camera
  • Reuses a ton of ideas and mechanics from other games, doesn’t really add any

Final Score: 70/100

Follow Hornshaw and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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7 Comments on Darksiders 2 Review

Mike

On August 29, 2012 at 10:09 am

“Death is also super-crazy-loyal to War and is willing to do anything to see his innocence proven, or at least get him off the hook.”

This is actually a direct tie-in with the Darksiders novel “The Abomination Vault” where Death was forced to use War as bait without his knowledge in order to get rid of a fuel for these nasty superweapons Death made during his time as a nephilim (as in ripped apart an entire offshoot race of the makers to use them as parts). War ended up getting killed and Death was barely able to bring his soul back from the edge of the well. War was broken up thinking he failed Death, and Death felt too ashamed and guilty that he used War without his knowledge that he didn’t tell him what truly happened and left War in the dark. Death swore to himself that he would never let anything like that happen again; and if War ever needed him, no matter the circumstance, he would go to Oblivion itself to see his brother aided, in order to pay for a debt he feels he should never be absolved from.

It was nice that they included that part of his personality, but I wish they had told people the why instead of letting people think it was just because they were brothers.

Mike

On August 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

circumstance*

Mike

On August 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

Wtf? Why does your comment box keep changing the word circumstance?

Axetwin

On August 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

Phil, in the grand scheme, would you say this game is better than the first?

With the first game, I felt that for a game that so heavily relied on both platforming and hack ‘n slash, it didnt do either of those very well. I thought the platforming controls were way too loose and at time unresponsive and the combat was just slow and at times extremely infuriating (counter attack arena anyone?). Has the platforming been tightened up and more importantly does the combat flow much smoother?

Phil Hornshaw

On August 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

@axetwin

Yeah, I think so. I liked the first game pretty well but it didn’t hold my attention. Darksiders 2 is pretty adept at everything it tries to do and be, apart from a few issues. The platforming is mostly pretty solid and the combat is actually pretty great a lot of the time. Other than when the camera gets crammed into a corner. Overall, though, Darksiders 2 is an improvement and a decent game; it’s just that it’s mostly a retread.

Mike

On August 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I don’t think of it as a retread, they are telling a different aspect of the story from a different point of view. Lilith’s plans went deep, and it looks like we won’t get the whole story without seeing the other riders’ perspectives as well.

Phil Hornshaw

On August 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm

@Mike

Not a story retread — it’s definitely very different. But a gameplay retread. There’s not really anything in DS2 that you haven’t seen in other games.