Darksiders is one of those games that really takes the "kitchen sink" idea to heart. With almost reckless abandon, the developers seemed determined to cram every adventure game staple into one package, and wrap it with over-the-top hack-n-slash craziness. And somehow, it all seems to work. Sure, Darksiders trips a little here and there, but the game pushes forward with such a breakneck pace that players soon forget that they were annoyed a few moments ago.
I'm focusing on the PC version of Darksiders this time around, although this is about as straightforward a port from the console world as one can get. For those who caught this the first time around in the console world, there's absolutely nothing new here, other than a slightly-better graphics setup and a questionable keyboard-and-mouse option. For those who missed out, however, there is a great bit of fun to be had donning the mantle of War.
It seems someone touched off the Apocalypse a bit earlier than planned, and the Universe was subsequently turned on its ear. Somehow called up prematurely, the Horsemen find themselves caught up in the entire mess, and the game's much-weakened hero, War, must take on the forces of Heaven and Hell in his quest to right some serious Wrongs. The story is actually a pretty thin one, and War himself never seems to develop much as a character. I really don't know what I was expecting, as the personification of Violence and Conflict probably doesn't have a softer side, but there just wasn't as much of a connection with the Hero as I would have liked. Still, story and plot all but go out the window once the action begins, and it's pretty much pure fun from the get-go.
From the very beginning, with his laughably oversized sword and glare-at-everything attitude, War is quite a force to be reckoned with. Combat is a large part of Darksiders, and while simple, it is also thoroughly, gorily entertaining. War begins with a few simple combat moves, generally a small combo of sword attacks. Once an enemy is sufficiently weakened, War gets the chance to pull off a special, one-button "insta-kill" move, which results in an even gorier, more profitable finishing move.
And, yes, enemies explode into a shower of currency, which this time around is the souls of the fallen. Basic blue souls are the money of the game, allowing War to purchase additional combat moves, magic abilities, and consumables. Yellow souls power up War's Wrath, the game's magic system, allowing players to unleash some impressive (and even overpowered) abilities. Finally, green souls replenish War's health, always a welcome occurrence.
As War gains abilities and new weapons, combat becomes a much more varied affair, without ever becoming too difficult. Darksiders doesn't seem to require quite the timing or finesse of some of the other hack-n-slash games out there, and players can quite easily finish the game with no more than a few basic moves in their repertoire. Eventually, War will also be able to occasionally power-up into a massive, indestructible monster-form for brief periods of time, completely turning the tide of whatever battle he's in.
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