Death is nearly upon us. Darksiders II launches in Australia this Thursday, following the US on Tuesday, marking the end of a baron few months in the gaming release schedule.
Apart from being an actual game that you want to play, here are six reasons to be excited for Darksiders II.
You know what’s more badass than ruining your vocal cords deep-screaming “I’m Batman”? Embodying the role of Death.
With his sarcastic wit, brutish arrogance and fashionable death mask for a face, Death is the ultimate bad boy. And he’s not bad at smashing bad guys, either.
Prepare to smash all the things. The first 30 minutes of Darksiders II -- which the lovely folk at THQ have given us amble time to sample with hands-on previews ahead of release* -- sets the tone for the epic adventure with brutal violence, and lots of it.
Death may look bulky, but he’s extremely agile on his toes; he can roll around the back of formidable opponents like a young Link and attack with the vengeance of an enraged Kratos. The basic light and heavy attack (secondary weapon) combos work a treat in conjunction with special moves and Death’s fairly basic, yet effectively levelling up system. Even early in the game, it’s clear that Death has an impressive arsenal of attack power.
An Original Mash-Up
Darksiders did a commendable job of drawing noticeable inspiration from Zelda’s dungeon exploration and God of War’s ultra violence and mashing them together like an impromptu TV antenna made from an old coat-hanger and duct tape. This week’s sequel doesn’t shy away from the comparison, but instead embraces them as it looks to craft yet another unique experience from familiar foundations.
Don’t misinterpret that as a Zelda or God of War “clone”. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and was a disappointing stigma attached to the original release. The inspiration is clear, you’ll get a nostalgic rush of Zelda magic as you progress through a harrowing dungeon, but it does it all in its own deathly way.
Epic Scale, Prince of Persia Style
When I first previewed Darksiders II I could scarcely remember the original game, but one thing in particular struck me as totally revolutionised: the scale. The size of the world in the original is dwarfed by what’s on offer in Darksiders II.
Death will be rigorously challenged by daunting environments to traverse and monolith bosses to defeat. The horseman has access to his stead right from the outset (no walking for this guy), as the first section of the game world is almost as big as the entire Darksiders map. And from the looks of things, it’s only a fragment of what’s on offer.
To top it all off, Death looks to have adopted some skills from the Prince (of Persia). His wall runs and acrobatic leaps are majestic, as he scales walls and traverses perilous ledges with apparent ease, so long as you get the all important timing right. I should mention that I ran myself into certain death each time I previewed the game -- mostly as a result of my own incompetence -- but practice (and an inverted camera turned off) makes perfect.
The Parallel Sequel Factor
Darksiders preformed amicably as a new franchise that was never going to dominate the sales charts overnight. It was one of those games that I hoped gathered a cult following as it prematurely found its way into discount bins and EB Game’s horrifically red and white sale tables. It deserved it, and we’re glad THQ had faith in a sequel, given their current financial woes (although development began before recent events).
Darksiders II has all the makings to become a sequel that outshines its predecessor. Vigil Games would have learnt a great deal from what was already a very solid game. Intriguingly, they elected to develop a parallel narrative in Darksiders II, rewarding fans of the original by expanding the “behind-the-scenes” elements of War’s story.
Darksiders II’s customisation options are deep, yet appear to be surprisingly simple. If you come across a new weapon or item -- of which there are many -- you’ll have the option of equipping it immediately, or stashing it in your inventory for later. You could play the entire game without having to navigate the menu. It’s summarised for you with a basic “green” means this is better than what you currently have, whilst “red” is a decrease in ability.
Likewise, the RPG levelling system follows a basic path, that even the laziest of action-gamers should be able to comprehend to upgrade their stats and abilities.
*Note: In the interest of full disclosure, all information is based on a series of hands-on previews with the publisher. Details based on the full release game will be published in our review on Wednesday.
By Ben Salter
Are you excited for Death and Darksiders II?