Darksiders II

September 17th, 2012

Death is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse!  Who, are, er, the last four of a race of insane hybrids of angel and devil, and charged with keeping the balance between heaven and hell.  And one appears to be a woman.  A horsewoman, presumably.  Of the apocalypse!  But I digress.  Death’s co-horseperson War has, er, done something really bad by possibly starting a war between heaven and hell.  Though, you know, he is WAR.  Isn’t starting wars his whole raison d’etre?  I’m not totally sure on the details, I didn’t play the first game.  Death has sworn to save him by, hmm, something along the lines of tapping the power of the corrupted Well of Souls so that humanity can live once again.

So far so mildly incomprehensible.  But plot, schmot!  What we have here is something with a free-roaming world and dungeon-solving structure very reminiscent of Zelda, combat a bit like God of War, and some running and jumping that reminded me of Prince of Persia.  God of Prince of Zelda!  Only with an art style and design all of it’s own.  In fact it’s in the visual imagination that it really excels, with some great location and character design, very much at its best when showing off some crazy vista of collapsing hell or the immense throne of the King of the Dead, dragged through tempestuous skies by two gigantic vomiting skull-worms.  Bet you haven’t seen that before.  The great imagination in the visuals does rather hide a bit of mediocrity in the rest, though.  There are a fair few hidden corners, I’m sure, but you don’t really feel a lot of drive to seek them out.  Mostly it takes the form of guy A asking you to go to Dungeon B to do thing C (having defeated boss D) so that you can reach guy W who’ll point you to Dungeon X to do thing Y.  Watch out for boss Z while you’re there, though!  Gameplay doesn’t offer much that the aforementioned Zelda, Prince of Persia and God of War didn’t offer better, honestly, and the plot ends up feeling a little-shot off, as if it only works as one part of a larger narrative (and possible not even then).  Early on there are some inventive set pieces, but it felt as if the whole thing got increasingly brainless and button-mashy over time.

Not a bad way to spend a few hours, and some visual treats, but my soul was not set aflame with excitement…

Posted in games by Joe Abercrombie on September 17th, 2012.

23 comments so far

  • GarfleSnark says:

    I played the first Darksiders and found it was so incredibly mediocre that I couldnt put it down.

    It ended on an awesome cliff hanger than made me moist, but that cliffhanger isnt Darksiders 2, unfortunately.

  • Jacob says:

    It has the “Cloud Strife sword” complex most anime inspired games seem to shoehorn into their works these days. Appeared childish. Didn’t want to look into it.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Perhaps, then, it’s just that fatal bit less mediocre than its forebear.

    Honestly, everything is so deliberately exaggerated about the art style that it isn’t really a problem.

  • Goldust says:

    OT: Joe have you played The Witcher 2? Seems like it would be right up your street.

  • Jacob says:


    I am having “being thirteen again” flashbacks while watching playthroughs of this game.


  • Remi says:

    It’s funny how every lever in Darksiders 2 would serve absolutely no purpose if it wasn’t a video game. I’m climbing my heart out(does Death have a heart?) to reach a lever that’s positioned improbably high, and when I pull that lever it turns out that its only purpose was to make little wooden nipples pop out of the wall so that I can climb those to reach a place I couldn’t reach before because the stairs were collapsed.

    Also, Death seems rather petty.

  • ColinJ says:

    I’m having a lot of fun with this, but it seems very long for what is essentially a fairly simple GOD OF WAR-style hack-and-slash.

    I don’t have the slightest clue how far into the game I am or what is going on, but I’m up to the Psycameron and I;m pumped nearly 18 hours into it.

    I have no health potions left and that big bloody spider thing always kills me just as it’s down to a smidgen of energy. Very frustrating.

    I’m also playing GUILD WARS 2, which is excellent.

  • TheFourthHorseman says:

    Somebody called?

    I read about this one on the Penny Arcade Report and they seemed to kind of praise it. I wouldn’t really mind filling the void left by finishing the barrage of the first half the year (Skyrim, Deus Ex, Mass Effect 3, L.A. Noire, Diablo 3), but I suppose I’ll just wait for something better.

    Well, when I say finish, wandering everywhere, doing side quests and not finishing most of the main quest lines will have to do with Skyrim…

  • Frank Fitzpatrick says:

    Phew you’re talking about a game…

    I was extremely confused until that came to light. I only really seem to play Fifa and Football Manager these days, although occasionally a GTA/ Red Dead Redemption/ Rock Star North game (of any kind really) will come along to tempt me away.

  • Gary says:

    Joe, you’ve hit the nail on the head with that game and pretty much most of the stuff that has come out since Skyrim and Mass Effect 3. Looks pretty, but the gloss just covers what is an average game.

    Bioshock Infinite is shaping up to be good though, I like what I’ve seen so far of the gameplay footage and what they’ve said about story, setting etc (city in the sky and so forth). I really want this one to be good. It’s certainly got the potential to be.

    With the exception of one or two, I’ve been somewhat underwhelmed by games released this year.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I don’t disagree. Dragon’s Dogma weren’t bad, a bit messy round the edges. Looks like some promising stuff coming up, though – Dishonoured, XCom, Borderlands 2, Assassin’s Creed 3, I expect there’ll be some good stuff among those, plus BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider in the slightly longer term.

  • Gary says:

    Definitely, I look forward to checking those out too. The original XCOM game was great fun at the time and I really enjoyed Borderlands (you can never have too many guns!)

    As you mention, Tomb Raider looks promising too. I like the idea of the reboot of that franchise, making it more of a survival game. When the first few TR games came out on the PSOne they blew me away, I absolutely loved them. The series then got a bit repetitive and dated. I’m glad they’re starting from scratch again.

    There’s also Naughty Dog’s new game Last of Us which looks like it could be a combination of Unchartered and Resident Evil. Then there’s Metal Gear Solid 5 too… Who needs a life eh?

  • dan halen says:

    Goldust 2: witcher 2 is without doubt the most boring game i’ve ever played in my entire life and i’m 38. i’ve played some absolute clownshoes in my time and paid handsomely for the privilege. witcher 2 – ‘go here and listen to waffle for 9 minutes, go there and listen to more incomprehensible waffle for 15 mins, kill a spider thing, more waffle until the end of time…..’ needless to say i didn’t enjoy it… 😉

  • ColinJ says:

    @dan halen: Your post cracked me up. While I enjoyed THE WITCHER 2 it does seem to try and bludgeon you to death with exposition. I’ve played through it twice and I still don;t really follow the plot.

    I think a lot of the acclaim for that game (besides the technical aspects, obviously) was the fact that it came not long after the half-baked DRAGON AGE 2. So in comparison THE WITCHER 2 looked like a masterpiece.

    I still think it’s a damn good game, though.

  • John says:

    Actually if your looking for a entertaining older title for just to chew away a few hours I recommend checking on the PSN for Odin Sphere. The art style whilst very cartoony has a certain charm to it as far as RPG action games go, the story isn’t so bad either.

    Just a pity there aren’t more RPGS like Brain Lord these days.

  • Hiroaki says:

    Torchlight 2 also drops in approximately a day. For it’s price point it’s a steal, and from what I played in the beta I enjoyed it more so than Diablo 3.

    Borderlands 2 is pretty fun so far, but I do have to say that especially with an accountwide character advancement system and ease of trying new classes the opening hour or so is a bit of a slog, and only becomes worse on the 3rd shot.

  • Gary says:

    @ColinJ: Yep, me too. Now I like a good story with witty dialogue, but by god, Witcher 2 felt like being smashed over the head repeatedly with a text book at times.

    Dragon Age 2 was a bit pants, but I have seen that Bioware have commented that they have taken fans points/criticisms/death threats on board and will make Dragon Age 3 more in line with want fans liked in DAO and DA2. They could of course just be blowing smoke up our arses, but I sincerely hope not.

  • Storm in the High Places says:

    Hey Joe,
    Has the subterranean press released the date for your limited edition best served cold, seems like eternity since I pre ordered.

  • Liam says:

    Joe (or any of the other gaming enthusiasts out there):

    Have you tried Castlevania: Lords of Shadow? It’s a 2010 game, but along a similar vein. Platforming and running/jumping puzzles reminiscent of some hybrid Zelda/Prince of Persia, and combat similar to God of War. It also has a bunch of Shadow of the Colossus-style climbing bosses.

    However where the game really excelled was in the brilliant character design and visually stunning environments. I was also surprisingly enthralled in the story progression of the main character. I picked up the game on a whim from the XBL marketplace and couldn’t put it down. Truly a shining example of what fantasy games can be like if done right.


  • Hunter says:

    Its not that all the games since Skyrim and Mass Effect 3 have been complete garbage, its just that Skyrim and ME 3 were so good that no game can even compare to their brilliance. you cant expect every game to be the game of the year. If you had never played Skyrim or ME 3 the games since then wouldn’t seem half as bad as they are. but then again your world would be a much darker place

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    I think we said average rather than garbage. But would Max Payne 3 or Kingdoms of Amalur really look not mediocre if we hadn’t had Skyrim earlier in the year? Dunno about that.

  • Hunter says:

    Yeah, Kingdoms of Amalur was pretty generic. The only thing that kept it going for me was the entertaining combat sequences. It was real fable esque. But i think i would have enjoyed it more if i hadn’t just gotten done with skyrim. It just can’t compete.

    I just think when you have a great game fresh on your mind it kind of dulls all the other gaming experiences for a while. Atlest it does for me. Maybe there just haven’t been any other great titles released this year to compete.

    but like you said earlier some pretty promising games are set to release in the next couple of months that may or may not change this opinion. I’ve got pretty high hopes for Dishonoured

  • Sebastian says:

    At the moment I can recommend Resident Evil 6 – it´s not that bad when you don´t compare it to the first two parts of the series. Especially it´s funny to have a good friend and some beers while using the split screen-option ;-).

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