Even with all the attention given to the combat side of things, Darksiders is really a game about exploration. It's here that the kitchen-sink model really takes hold. Players will gain all sorts of adventuring gear, including homing chakra, a crystal-busting gauntlet of power, the requisite grappling hook, and even a Portal-style VoidWalker gun. All of these are introduced in a very well-paced manor, basically dedicating each area as a training area for the newest toy. And for those who like the treasure hunting, many of the previous areas are riddled with hidden, inaccessible locations that must be revisited with each new power acquisition.
The environments are done very well, and offer a nice selection of puzzles and even a tolerable amount of platforming. Each area, from the devastated city-scapes to the spider-infested mansions, has a unique feel. Graphically, each of these received a bit of a facelift from the console versions, although I did notice some new slowdowns and graphical glitches that I didn't see in my console play-through. I'm also not sure how kind Darksiders would be to older gaming rigs, as my mid-to-high level box was straining at times to keep up. On the audio side of things, everything remained fairly solid, although again I noticed a few hiccups here and there.
Where Darksiders does fall a little short, however, is in the keyboard-and-mouse controls. For those without a game controller, prepare for a bit of pain. The default layout, with the "dash" button tucked uncomfortably beneath the W-A-S-D movement keys, left me with a gnarled claw of a hand in less than an hour's time. I experimented with different layouts, but never managed to find a control scheme that felt comfortable. Still, as awkward as this layout was, it made certain portions of the game almost ridiculously simple. The rail-shooter(!) portions of the game were incredibly easy when driven by the mouse, and War's ranged attacks and targeting throughout the game were a breeze. It really is a pick-your-poison proposition, but both controls are ultimately workable.
Darksiders, for all its derivative makeup, succeeds far more often than it stumbles, and as such remains a ton of fun to play. For those that already tackled the Apocalypse on one of the consoles, there's really nothing here to warrant another version. If, however, you missed the console version the first time around, here's the chance to kill a dozen-or-more hours of well-spent time.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Sure, you've seen it all somewhere before, but Darksiders manages to tie together just about every adventure-game idiom and make it all work.
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