Raargh: Darksiders Released, Impressions

By Jim Rossignol on September 24th, 2010 at 4:55 pm.


The PC version of THQ’s demonic hack ‘em up adventure Darksiders is out today, and I’ve been having a bit of play. In it you thump your way through the hyperbolic story a fallen horseman of the apocalypse. With an ultimate goal of cosmic revenge, you chop many unpleasant creatures into pieces with a sword the size of an ironing board. A satisfying undertaking, you might think. And perhaps a welcome break from World War II RTS titles, too? Well, read on for some more thoughts.

Pleasingly, Darksiders get the third-person fighting process just about right. From the opening moments you are flailing around with your giant blood-thirsty blade and related magical rumpus to splendid affect. The horseman is the perfect vessel for leaping, thrashing, sundering and exploding your way through a colourful menu of enemies. Borrowing its structure from God Of War, the game then strips you of many of your powers and asks you to build the horseman back up the full strength by levelling up his various skills, collecting artefacts, and trading the souls of your defeated enemies for various moves, weapon upgrades, and other lovely things. To this end you are accompanied by a demon thing, who annoys you and offers advice, and is clearly going to die horribly at the end of the game, and you meet and murder a cast of awesome supernatural chaps, such as nightmarish demons, vast golems, and weirdo demonic bosses.


The game is often impressive to look at, despite a few blandments. It borrows heavily from the chaos and imperial imagery of the Warhammer universes, but that’s probably a good thing, both because that maximalist ludicrousness is just a great palette for a supernatural biff-bonanza, and also because this same developer is making the 40k MMO, and if this is anything to judge things by, they’re not going to have any trouble creating the necessary art assets to making it look suitably hyper-gothic.

So yes, combat is satisfyingly crunchy. My PC did get a bit stuttery when there was a lot of post-processing and particle stuff going on, which was a little annoying, and perhaps suggests it could do with a little more tinkering under the hood, but it was never enough to put me off. This was backed up by the proficiency of the conversion to mouse and keyboard. You end up using quite a few keys in the orbit of your WASD movement to get everything done, but the horseman can dodge, leap, double-jump (thus pleasing John) and perform a ludicrous number of special moves, many of which get unlocked over time. Not a bad port, once you’ve knocked the default mouse sensitivity down a bit. And the 360 pad works fine too.


Enemies range from tiny scrappy little zombie dudes through impressive giganto-bosses, with a range of various sized monstrosities through the middle. Most of the fights I played seemed brilliant judged, and there was a really sense of purpose and spectacle when you ploughed into multiple foe, your sword clipping each of them in its hugely energetic arcs. Yep, it gets the fighting right, and that’s all I could ask of a game of this particular genus. I was really getting into it.

However, a couple of hours into the game I encountered a mini boss who threw a car that wasn’t there at me, and then killed me repeatedly. Repeatedly. After a nice cup of tea and few of attempts to get past it, I stood up, climbed onto my chair, and shouted: “FFFFF-RAAAAARGH. NO! MORE!”

Here’s why: GAME DESIGNERS! If this sequence of events appears in your game, you are doing something wrong.

Player respawns at waypoint -> two minute walk back to boss trigger -> unskippable cutscene -> annoying boss fight -> die -> repeat

I don’t mind repeated attempts, but this is not okay. I’m giving up. Life is too short.

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97 Comments »

  1. Xander51 says:

    Nice to hear that this is a solid port, might have to check it out! I was worried about the mouse and keyboard controls

  2. Simon Dufour says:

    There was something like that in Splinter Cell Conviction too. I called it, the lobby scene.

    It started with a cutscene and then, an alarm goes off and you’re supposed to run through a corridor.. but there’s no indication of that. I did that sequence in 2 sessions and about 15 try. It was definitely not worth it.

  3. Snall says:

    I remember when I had trouble for a while with the Witcher doghound boss thing…god that was torture (But in 2nd install and play it was ez, patches!…well that and I used to right dmg…)

  4. Dobleclick says:

    LOL, I want a comment of how this boss scene is dealt with. Just wanna know whether Jim is a noob or not… ^^

    (Haven’t got or tried the game myself)

    • Zogtee says:

      I played this on the 360 and I know the exact spot jim is talking about and I actually quit in frustration there as well. I was having a blast up until that point and then PFFT!, brick wall to my face. I haven’t touched the game since. A similar thing happened to me in Bayonetta.

      I don’t know what it is about game designers. It’s like they don’t think it’s a proper game if you’re just having fun and arseing around.

    • jaheira says:

      “I don’t know what it is about game designers. It’s like they don’t think it’s a proper game if you’re just having fun and arseing around.”

      It’s because game reviewers (and some game players) are obsessed with how long it takes to finish a game. See: discussion on RPS about whether or not it’s worth buying ME2 DLC based on how long it is.

      Thus they resort to difficulty spikes to lengthen the time-to-completion. Sometimes they get it a bit wrong and Jim has to stand on his chair and shout.

    • Symce says:

      Its actually pretty simple, dodge. What I’ve been with most difficult mobs and mini-bosses was slide around until I could outflank them a little then hit up some combos, rinse repeat.

      Btw this guy wasn;t hard at all, took me two tries (first one was because I was surprised at the whole thing) The really hard encounter is the first real boss, you’ll know it when you get to her, the bat-queen, took me only two tries again, but mouse+keyboard really isn’t a good combination for tagging targets with your crossblade fast enough.

      I do agree with the fact those cut-scenes should be skippable, ugh.

  5. Tei says:

    I don’t understand. Is soo stupid, that must be a legal thing, how can people porting a game to PC not include a way to skip cutscenes? the only way this may make any sense is that are legal bidded to release the exact same game to all platforms, and can’t change that on the PC, because will break a contract and will not be able to distribute the console version. Is the only thing that may make any sense. Only lawyers could get something this stupid, no sane programmer of game dev will release a game in that state. *curses*

    • Al3xand3r says:

      I’m pretty sure you can skip them, I’m just not sure with which button, I know I missed parts of the story due to skipping some though. It’s one of the basic 360 buttons if you use that, maybe X or B.

    • KilgoreTrout XL says:

      Yeah, I thought that was odd about the write up too. You can definitely skip the boss cutscenes on the PS3.

      p.s. I love the shit out of this game.

  6. Freud says:

    How do you know it is an invincible car he is throwing you and not an invincible fridge?

  7. Al3xand3r says:

    Have played about 30 mins, it seems pretty good but not quite Zelda good. Combat is a bit clunkier, as is item/powers use and what not, but overall, so far so good.

    • Hamburger says:

      Wtf is wrong with people?

      Everyone keeps calling this a “modern Zelda game” where Zelda was the SNES bloke with 3 types of forged sword and fairy collecting and “hold button to scurry forward until you bonk into something”.

      This here is the classic fight-combo solo-fighting game, not a friggin Zelda which actually had a good dose of RPG/Adventure cross vs being a pure slash/fight/combo-madness game.
      Best I know Ocarina didn’t exactly become a combo-madness corridor brawler as well, so wtf.

      The two biggest Zelda names are galaxies away from this gametype.

  8. MWoody says:

    I’m curious: does anyone actually like the whole “start with all your powers, then WHOOPS we take them away, now work the entire game just to be that strong” gameplay mechanic? I despise it with a fiery passion. Knowing a game has RPG-like progression, I always foolishly start out assuming that I’m playing the character’s base state and begin excitedly wondering what sort of flashy, fantastical skills I’ll pick up as the game progresses. Then, BOOM: not only am I suddenly a weakling, I realize that I’ll never see an ability I didn’t just experience. The game becomes not a matter of advancement, but rather a drudging slog to reestablish the status quo.

    It was a stupid idea when the Metroid series did it, and it’s a stupid idea today.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I think it works in God Of War / DarkSiders.

    • Dominic White says:

      “It was a stupid idea when the Metroid series did it”

      Well, that’s the most quantifiably Wrong thing I’ve seen all day.

    • Heliocentric says:

      *Whoops goes the powers* works on the first play through of most games, but when you’ve already played a game before? Losing everything becomes a brick wall of annoyance.

    • Dominic White says:

      Well, in this case, you have your full powers for the first ten minutes or so, then things go horribly badly wrong and you’ve got to work your way back up to full beefliness.

      The opening level is bloody impressive, by the way. It starts with the end of the world. Angels and demons fighting in the streets, with you thrown into the middle, confusedly hacking away at both sides.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’m not a fan of it personally. Especially in God of War. Just when I think I can have some fun playing around as a 400ft tall Kratos, with almighty god-like powers they take them away and it’s back to boring hack n’ slash.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      It works as long as your reduced state is comparably fun. Was fecking dreadful in both Prototype and AssCreed. Although AssCreed was the most spectacular misconception I can remember, like Grand Theft Assassins isn’t a cool enough idea by itself let’s wrap it in a godawful sciffy wrapper.

      Bastards.

    • Wulf says:

      Frankly, I think Metroid did it perfectly in all three Prime games (I loved those, I miss you, Retro Studios), Metroid Fusion, and Metroid: Zero Mission. I’m curious if the starter of this particular string of comment-replies (I’m terrible with remembering names, forgive me) would admonish Knytt Stories for the same reason.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Except for Metroid: Other M, the loss of powers has been fine. Because Metroid (and Castlevania) was the only game to be so open with sequence breaking, this sort of thing has always been encouraged (except for Fusion and Corruption, but Corruption was done so well it only hurt Fusion)

      You wouldn’t be able to get the Screw Attack before the Varia Suit if you already had them. Really I think you’re just not the type of person that really enjoys Metroid. And actually, Samus becomes so powerful at the end of the game it doesn’t matter. In one game, she gets a rainbow beam that shoots through basically anything. If she had that the next game, she’d have to fight PLANETS for the game to be any fun.

    • AlexW says:

      Except in Metroid you start at something like 1/4 abilities, drop down to just the Power Beam, then build into a nigh-indestructible tank spewing out missiles and Power Bombs like there’s no tomorrow. The intro scene is more of a taste for those gamers that would trade in a game if they don’t fire something explosive in the first ten minutes.

      There’s also a fair bit of variation in the ‘Metroid formula’.
      Metroid/ZM: Start with nothing. Zero Mission sort of does it by having the equipment from the first three fifths of the game temporarily stripped for the Mother Ship/Chozodia bit, but it’s more to emphasise just how much of a destructive whirlwind she becomes immediately after getting the Space Jump and Plasma Beam a few minutes later.
      Prime 1: Start with a few Missiles, Charge Beam, and Morph Ball kit, lose them shortly, build up over a few hours, then become far more powerful.
      Prime 2: Start with some stuff (can’t remember everything, but it’s a decent amount of gear), lose it to boss enemies that then try to use it against you. Brilliant implementation, makes it far more entertaining than just ‘retrieving’ things.
      Prime 3: Start off with your basic necessities for being a badass, then get more and more. Not ‘the Metroid formula’, though the Trooper head in her cleavage is quite disturbing.
      Metroid 2: Start with little, build up but trade between beams towards the end. A curious game, not my favourite implementation, but the Queen Metroid is a pansy anyway.
      Super Metroid: Start with very little for some reason, get lots of stuff.
      Metroid Fusion: All your kit is taken away before you get to use it, and given to a merciless, untiring machine that will pursue you to the best capabilities of its poor AI in genuinely tense scenes.

      So it’s basically just Zero Mission, Prime 1, and Prime 2. That doesn’t seem nearly as egregious as the God of War trilogy’s habit of making you work just to get back to where you were at the start, with no improvement beyond that.
      (Yes, I’m a huge Metroid fan, how did you know?)

    • Rage0r says:

      This is done in FPS as well, but usually not always from the outset.

      I quite frankly launch into extreme fits of FUUUUUUUUUUUUU rage whenever I go from a fully stocked 9+ gun inventory to “So, hey, here’s this pistol, yea?” for no good reason and then only incrementally get the stuff back.
      It’s just a bad reset to me. It’s one thing to make me kill 2-3 guards to get my gear back, it’s another to let me spend the next 4 levels playing chase-the-gun again.

      *shakes fist violently at Serious Sam*

    • crooon says:

      I agree 100% with MWoody, you other buttnuggets can suck it! (no offense to any actual buttnuggets)
      I find it horribly annoying. Coincidentally I feel the same about TV show episodes that starts at the end and then rewinds, but that’s another topic. Either way I find it cheap, boring, and tedious.

  9. Azradesh says:

    I played this on the PS3 and quite enjoyed it, more so then God of War actually. I will say that it’s gameplay is much closer to the Legend of Zelda games then God of War. In fact it’s pretty much a rage filled and bloody Legend of Zelda.

  10. Azradesh says:

    Oh and I also died more then once on that stupid mini boss and hated it, but it is the only part of the game I remember been like that.

  11. Goose says:

    I don’t mind cutscenes being unskippable, but on first watch only. If you have to revisit a cutscene due to death or dismemberment, then they should definitely be skippable. I’ve accidentally skipped a cutscene or three in my day due to an erroneous button press/misuse of drink cup/cat on keyboard, and that’s irked me just as much (if not more) than any unskippable cut scene I’ve come across.

  12. Al3xand3r says:

    Have to say if you died at the boss I think you did then you haven’t quite grasped the controls yet. I got my ass whooped at first but it doesn’t take long to learn to dodge its attacks so I didn’t die. You should probably use the 360 controller and get used to it first though, I didn’t try the keyboard & mouse controls but it doesn’t seem to be the type of game that translates well, and I don’t usually resort to gamepad, I even played Arkham Asylum with the keyboard & mouse controls.

    @MWoody, nope, no problems with that, when it’s done well, as in Metroid, Symphony of the Night or other games, this included, where you only get a glimpse of it anyway, and your controls remain largely the same minus not having a fuckton of health and that demon form available. You seem to get more varied specials in the game, unless I just didn’t notice they were there in the beginning.

  13. Heliocentric says:

    After reading the complaints of difficulty i checked to see if the writer was John ‘iron man’ Walker (as opposed to ‘no iron man’ quinns). This is Jim people… The same guy who plays eve, serious business clearly.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The game seemed totally fine up to that point, I should add.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Flick on an invincibility cheat, kill the boss and then flick it off. Especially if the game is otherwise good. I do this all the time, remember FUEL? A wretched game to try and unlock things in, but hack the files which determine the unlocks? The game suddenly is a wide open wonderland to explore. Without the cheat its a 3/10 (crafted but pointless) with it, its an 8/10(a flawed masterwork).

    • Clovis says:

      That reminds of some games where setting it to easy is basically “fun mode”. I recently finished Ghostbusters on Easy, because there was just nothing fun about making the combat harder.

      (Even then, the freakin’ cherubim sequence made me RAAAAAGGGE!!!)

  14. LewieP says:

    A lot more like Zelda.

    A really bad Zelda.

    That car sequence got me on the 360 version. Worse is, there is a floaty orb that means you should be able to carry on, but then it dissapears durring the cut scene when the boss appears, and reappears after you killed him. For no reason.

    I hated the game a lot. Didn’t finish it, but got most of the way through, and didn’t enjoy it at all.

    • Dave L. says:

      Worse is, there is a floaty orb that means you should be able to carry on, but then it dissapears durring the cut scene when the boss appears, and reappears after you killed him. For no reason.

      It’s almost as though it were some sort of ‘mini-boss fight’ with the player is expected to ‘win’ in order to progress…

    • Dave L. says:

      goddammit. ‘which’ not ‘with.’

  15. whaleloever says:

    This is the most least suited PC game ever

  16. PleasingFungus says:

    Not only is this game very zelda, but it is apparently more zelda than Zelda.

    (Might be worth reading, if not for the actual review (which seems somewhat pointlessly spiteful), then for the evaluation of the zelda-ness of various Zelda games.)

  17. Tei says:

    I dunno, I have played Chess, and Pengo.
    Is more like Pengo or Chess?

  18. WhiteLung says:

    That mini boss is the hardest boss in the game it took me easily 20+ attempts to defeat it. After that the bosses get progressively easier and the final boss, while an interesting fight, is just not even a challenge

    I don’t know what it is about the mini boss that makes it so tough. Not long after that they start arriving in pairs and with other enemies and they don’t really pose a problem.

    I played on 360 btw after being told the PC version wasn’t coming out (lied to me) and I’m surprised that boss hasn’t been fixed

  19. Axess Denyd says:

    Double jumping mechanics anger me.

    It just always strikes me as stupid.

    …that’s all I’ve got, I just like complaining.

  20. corbie says:

    I thought the dragon boss thing was more fiddly. But I’m not much good at frisbee.

    Call me more brutal than a bag of psychotic Glaswegian badgers but the thing that set the combat off best in Darksiders was the impaling, dismemberment and gouts of black tarry blood that accompanied almost every kill. I’d find myself chuckling insanely as an angelic host was grabbed by the throat, de-winged in one economical sweep of my giant steel-plank and then casually impaled.

    Not that you should laugh I suppose. I just couldn’t help it.

    • Rage0r says:

      F*ck yea you should laugh.
      With a grin ear to ear that comes from somewhere you don’t recall. With glee, but somehow oddly without emotion that sees the end of all mankind.
      Natural killing.

      Oh, also you just sold me on the game.

      Yay for violence.

  21. P7uen says:

    Wrong answer. You were supposed to answer “Chess.”

  22. DestinedCruz says:

    I loved what I played of the 360 version when I rented it, but I have been waiting with baited breath for the PC version. Nice to hear they’ve done a good job despite the car bug you mentioned.

    Note: that invisible car thing doesn’t happen on the 360 version, so I’d expect a hotfix for that right quick.

  23. mcwizardry says:

    I read on GameFAQs that you can throw the cars back at the boss. Just press the grab (B) button shortly before impact and it makes the battle a little bit easier. There’s a part in the Twilight Cathedral a bit further into the game where you’re up against two large armored zombies and i just can’t get past them. Maybe somebody could share some tips for that section.

  24. Sharkticon says:

    Yaaaaaaaaaaay!

    This was good to read. I’ve waited ages for a decent action/adventure to come to the PC(last excellent ones were Beyond Good and Evil and Soul Reaver 2).

  25. Kits says:

    Played some of this earlier today and was rather impressed with the quality of the port. It’s unusual to get a good one. Can tell the game itself’s definately designed to cater to the hack and slash console types, but I still enjoyed it. Had to take a break shortly after the angelic griffon thing flight though, as it was starting to feel a little bit tedious to me.

  26. Fillem says:

    FUCK that boss. Fuck it right in his crab-clawed ass.
    Christ. Tried it about 10 times now…bleh.
    Time to turn on the cheats I guess :(

  27. Hideous says:

    I call it Legend of War: Metroid of Time.

    It’s like they went all “fuck game design, let’s just take the best parts of our favourite games and glue them together”. Luckily, it works!

    (the item in the first dungeon is a boomerang, people.)

  28. manveruppd says:

    Is this the typical floaty, ultrafast hack’n'slash console game (like Devil May Cry)? Or is it more solid and crunchy, like Severance or Zeno Clash?

    • Dominic White says:

      Somewhere in the middle. Enemies are damage-sponges though, so you usually need to unload on them for a while before you can finish them off.

      As the guy above said, it’s more like a mashup of elements of other popular games.

  29. mrmud says:

    Darksiders is great, at least it was on the 360.

  30. undead dolphin hacker says:

    This was a fantastic game for the 360, short of one odd bug that could make you lose 2-3 hours of play if you weren’t a judicious saver.

    Darksiders was the first game in a long time that I played obsessively until completion, and additionally went on to get all the achievements just to show the world that I loved the game.

  31. Gorgeras says:

    Someone explain this bullshit by which the game uses Steamworks but is not available to buy in the UK on Steam.

    • Matt says:

      The short answer is, International distribution is complex.
      Distributing a game is a series of complex contracts with tons of retailers. If you want to sell your game in stores, they insist in no early digital release. Furthermore in a lot of countries you have to sell distribution rights for a flat fee instead of a per game cut since the distributors will lie about sales numbers. This flat fee distribution has to be exclusive in an area.

  32. LintMan says:

    “Player respawns at waypoint -> two minute walk back to boss trigger -> unskippable cutscene -> annoying boss fight -> die -> repeat”

    And this is why savepoint systems suck and I generally avoid buying games with them.

  33. John Peat says:

    I really like Darksiders – I’m close to finishing it on 360 and all I’ll say is that the combat does vary from ‘piss easy’ to ‘bloody hard’ with pretty-much no warning and you need to be ready for it.

    Nevertheless, everything can be beaten with the right moves/abilities – it’s just a bit frustrating working-out which of those abilities you should be using/when and walking back time and time again meanwhile (*coughs* horn *coughs*)

    This isn’t Bayonetta tho – much as I adore Bayonetta it’s a game which actually scares and intimidates me. In Darksiders you can get away with button mashing ‘most of the time’ but if you apply Bayonetta rules (of using the right combos and counters because button machine does NOT work) you’ll have a much better time.

    Meanwhile – Bayonetta is just fucking astonishingly brilliant – I have to mention that – it stands as one of THE reasons to own a console – it stands as one of the greatest achievements in gaming.

    Darksiders is just a really nice dark/chunky Zelda/Soul Reaver distraction.

  34. Zyrxil says:

    I don’t know about the M/KB controls. I played all the new Prince of Persias comfortably with M/KB controls, and even I found this much more suitable for a gamepad, simply because of all the dashing you have to do.

  35. skyturnedred says:

    Umm, I killed that boss on first try. Lucky me or buggy game?

  36. Jake says:

    I used to think Joe Mad was just the best artist in the world and would happily pin his X-Men pictures up on my walls. I think owe it to my young, deluded self to buy this game. Any ideas when it is available to download on Steam?

  37. turgid dahlia says:

    Yeah, I gave up on Splinter Cell shortly after that bit. A wholly dull and frustrating game.

  38. Ridnarhtim says:

    I genuinely don’t know what he means. Is it the bit on the broken highway? I certainly don’t remember getting stuck anywhere in the game on my first playthrough, I thought it was a slight bit on the easy side.
    And the checkpointing/cutscenes isn’t NEARLY as bad as in some other games.

  39. blargh says:

    I’m playing the game, 3 hours in, and enjoying it IMMENSELY. I’m enjoying it even more than I ever enjoyed DMC.

    Also, I have not encountered any of the bugs mentioned here, and don’t quite get which monster this is supposed to be. I’m almost at Tiamat, so I’m sure I’ve already passed that point at which some people seemed to have trouble.

    Anyway, game’s awesome, port is good enough despite the complete lack of options to tweak graphics besides resolution and v-sync and no visual extras at all, which is admittedly disappointing given the 8 months they’ve been supposedly working on it. Game looks much better than on console running on native 1080p though, even without AA, AF and high resolution textures. Best of all, no 30 FPS lock and no tearing.

    In short, if GoW, Zelda, and Portal are your kind of games, then this is a game you probably wouldn’t want to miss.

  40. Hamburger says:

    “And the 360 pad works fine too.”

    = No other type of pad supported, go fsck yourselves everyone not bowing to the monopoly?

    If so, then it’s back to x360ce emulation workaround again *sigh*

    Btw, another awesome game in this genre on the PC is Wolverine, which is actually a well done port and game for once. At least it ran wunderbar for me.

    • Eddeman says:

      @Hamburger: Yeah pretty much, I tried using my ps2 controller which works fine in all other games and it would just make the camera look straight up in the sky. This was actually very playable on mouse and keyboard though, more so than Devil May Cry 4 which was actually the reason I got an adapter thingy in the first place.

      Played through most of this yesterday and I really enjoyed it so far, despite some parts getting me killed a few times in rapid succession. Some pretty long puzzle sections to break up the action sometimes, nothing super challenging so it was a nice break from combat.

      Also, doing the “golfswing” with the sword to fling 10 baddies of a cliff has to be one of the most satisfying things to do in the game.

  41. Tei says:

    Seems a god game, but has insane complex combos, like ALT+SHIFT+3 + move left while jumping, or something like that. I could probably search my control pad. I have one, somewhere on my house. I remenber hidding it, to avoid the visit finding I have a console item, but is somewhere, I know that.

  42. Darksiders says:

    WOW! Just looking at the pictures alone is exciting. It is doubtful that this will provide the same amount of hype and following as World of Warcraft, yet ,this brings in an entirely different element of computer gaming fun and entertainment.

  43. Longrat says:

    Well, this is a good console port (even though the resoultion option lying in advanced settings made me laugh), I’m playing it with the 360 pad because, let’s face it, some games were just meant to be played with one.

    A good, fun, solid game.

  44. Kdansky says:

    I AM WAR, THE APOCALYPTIC RIDER OF DOOM.

    Let’s climb along some girders in this parking garage and beat up some zombies that don’t even fight back, shall we?

    Pretty much kills the game for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNfAYApOGrA&feature=related

  45. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Darksiders is a good example of everything that’s wrong with the industry.

    The combat is “meaty”, true, though there’s a fork on the road with two signs pointing at “over abundance of pointless maneuvers” and “blood, guts and entrails”. Both lead to the same place: the first road is dedicated to remembering why Killer Instinct nearly sucked the life force and fun out of fighting games, and the second hinges on spreading the corrupt notion that this thing is a “mature version of Zelda” when it’s neither. Comparing it with Zelda is a clear sign of how common day journalism operates and influences its impressionable readers: instead of taking a game apart and providing thoughtful analysis, they pick on superficial play mechanics and “create” new descriptions not only built on poor assumptions of the original source, but that completely undermine future interpretation (also see: Metroidvania, applied to games which rarely feel like either Metroid or Castlevania – that some now retroactively apply the term to games of both series would be fun, if I could smile after being clinically depressed).

    So, here’s Darksiders.

    The manifestation of War, punisher of the wicked, harbinger of Death, apostole of desolation, the goddamn Horseman of Apocalypse, absorbs souls by destroying things like (but not limited to): cars, furniture, pianos, road signs, parking meters, newspaper stands, bus stops and trees. He will kill zombies, demons, angels and assorted giant creatures of demonic heritage in spectacular fasion in cutscenes but will require to bring down their defenses in normal gameplay in order to do so, complete with ingame custscene (so I guess it’s a lesson: humanity can live in peaceful times so long as we stash away all of our cars so War can’t throw them at a giant’s demonic head and thus gain Wrath). He will constantly remind you of the urgency of his mission with a hood covering his facial features and throat cancer, but the Goddamn Horseman of Apocalypse will have no problems being told to kill X number of creatures in Y time to get bonus souls.

    So here’s Darksiders. War, the Horseman of Apocalypse, needs to learn how to jump, block and dodge. The very first thing he does when he arrives on Earth is kill creatures yet, when the game begins, we must learn that pressing “X” attacks.

    Videogame industry: reducing biblical entities to common goons since 1980.

    Also, the movies are just concept art waiting to be justified. You will see them because the art team – probably just Madureira by the look of things, who’s held as some “industry legend” because he creates comics series he can never be arsed to finished – spent time with them and that can’t go to waste. I can almost guarantee every single cutscene depicting doors being open and closed, portals being created and undone, etc., have a corresponding bit of concept ar with the worlds “demonic door closing”/”demonic door opening” and accompanying notes (“door opens with this key”). People complain how Nintendo creates games for people with ADD because they’re constantly giving you hints, yet, here we are, in some manner of cathedral where just about 70% or more of everything needs a 4 second custscene to show you IT IS MOVING IN SOME WAY, then another cutscene to show how IT IS MOVING AGAIN ONLY IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT WAY from last time. I’ve just *walked across* the door and killed three zombies – why the hell would i forget the door was there? Temporary arenas are the same: you enter an area, it’s closed off (cutscene!), you kill everything that’s leaking pus from at least one orifice, then it’s open again (cutscene!). I’m ok with cutscenes showing something important, i’m ok with impromptu arenas (otherwise I wouldn’t like the Soul Reaver series), but in 2010 we’re still seeing giant creatures (with deformities because it’s edgy and is totally not cutesy Nintendo), perform some introductory move (complete with the creature’s name, because it stresses that it either its concept art took more than 20 minutes or that “it really is inspired in biblical stuff, guyze!”), in the same time we’re being penis-parried by smaller minions (challenge!), and who dies thanks to a recently acquired power (“there must be some way to multi-target the creature” – meanwhile, we’ve had a multitarget weapon for at least half an hour, if we haven’t been killed off by epilepict jumps who lands us on lava, the result being a respawn that deducts a bit of health because we touched lava).

    At some point we’re told War can’t visit the Shadow Realm (whatever that is). Conveniently, he gains the ability to see manifestations of it… Complete with the minimap pointing them out. Don’t venture out into the endtimes without your GPS (in Nintendo games this is seen as “dumbing down”; here, it’s apparently “acceptable”).

    It’s a competent port of a cynical, brain-dead game where fun happens despite the game itself.

    The combat is… *nice*, I guess, and the X360 does a pretty good job of it. It’s just everything else that’s so lacking in conscious design beyond bullet point lists of Thing To Include Because The Competition Has Them, where we find:

    *Tormented main character;
    *Something of mythological or biblical inspiration;
    *Elaborate, time wasting “puzzles” which consist of a) picking a “sword” (key) which is placed less than ten paces away from the “statue” (lock), and b) elaborate, time wasting corridors leading you to the “sword” which is actually only a couple of rooms away from the “statue”, but you only realize this after 500 (spoiler: could be less) identikit corridors where the final door after a puzzle leads into the near beginning of the area (if beta testers fell asleep playing these portions, include monsters in every new room and respawn some too);
    *Impossibly muscled men, incredibly athletic and breasted women (I guess David Jaffe is beating to it as I type this, if he’s not too busy posting on his blog about games not having to be art and so, they’re fine being teenage drivel);
    *Voice actors doing their darnest to take comic book material (the Spawn kind, even) seriously (and the only good thing there is Mark Hammil (sp?) even if he’s delegated to sidekick;
    *An AWESHUM character deprived of powers only to regain him while his employers – characters of Great Power, Influence and Importance – are turned into goons, blackmailers, salesmen and you play the constant errand boy;
    *Too many other crimes to talk about here but which include – “level design” out of Quake 1 (at least Q1 had an excuse to be that way; here, it’s like someone tossed every single art asset into a blender, liked the final product, and constructed maps out of it), clumsy AI (I can sequence finishing blows while being attacked by a creature because these animations are unstoppable and I’m virtually invincible), terrible dialogue and characterization, annoying music (I think that was the music, though).

    Meanwhile, two curious facts:

    1) THQ have talked about a *sequel*

    2) People on the internet are very seriously suggesting PC players should buy this so we can get even more nonsense like this; apparently, the derth of action titles like these is a Bad Thing (meanwhile, the good action titles in the same “genre”, like Brutal Legend (which has its fair share of problems, but it’s got *heart*, damnit!), are console exclusives).

    The only thing I’ve enjoyed so far is that there aren’t QTEs (a plus), and a terribly trivial thing that made me long for a 3D Castlevania game that “gets it”: it’s cute that I can jump, knife a giant bat, then take advantage of the recoil to land on another bat and do the same – I think I’ve wacked about 4 or 5 in a row. Again, a trivial thing, but nicely pulled off. It’s got more “Castlevania” in it than at least 5 or 6 games in the series in recent years.

  46. myself says:

    Diogo Ribeiro says: September 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm Darksiders is a good example of everything that’s wrong with the industry.

    get a life and dont play video games its making you crazy…..

    jim your not very good at games, because i beat if on app. mode and havent ran into anything that would make me turn into a 3 year old…

  47. Dominic White says:

    I gotta echo this almost word for word, snarky as it is. That guy was the first halfway tricky enemy in the game. Everything up to that point has just been mindless trash that you beat on until they fall over.

  48. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    ^Or, I could play better games. Problem already solved.

    It never ceases to amaze me that, in this day and age, people are still using “get a life”. On videogame websites. Which talk about videogames, often seriously. Wow. It seems it’s not just Darksiders’ art direction that’s still stuck in the 1990′s.

  49. Tei says:

    The real criticism that you can make to the excellent Diogo Ribeiro post is that based on some people opinions, Darksiders just follows a genre called “Zianga” (or something like that). These not more crazyness in Zianga, than in a RTS or a FPS ( read: there are a lot )

    (note: maybe is not Zianga, maybe is Zenga )

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