Reaping The Benefits: Darksiders 2 Preview

By Quintin Smith on July 26th, 2011 at 3:06 pm.

Their big front teeth are each the size of a human
Death, the second horseman (and hoarse man) of the Apocalypse is locked in battle with an enormous beetle. Deftly rolling out of the way of its charge attack with an agility never showcased by War in the first game, Death promptly delivers a series of all-business, blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em slashes with his scythe. And what should come tumbling out from the beetle? Viscous, nightshade-coloured ichor? No. Numbers. For Darksiders 2, Vigil are taking the first game’s paltry handful of RPG elements and pushing them as hard as they can.

The plot, however, is once again bombastic fluff that’s about as self-aware as a guided missile. At one point during the first Darksiders, War vanishes for 100 years after accidentally bringing about the apocalypse (we’ve all been there, eh?). Darksiders 2 tells the story of his brother Death as he roams the abyssal plane, trying to reverse that terrible mistake and, in doing so, save his brother.

The chunk of the game demoed to us saw Death seeking an audience with the Lord of Bones, who’s described to us as an “air traffic director of souls”. Cutting the bell used to summon him clean in half with his scythe, Death watches as an airship the size of a stadium pulled by two colossal, flying snakes comes rumbling into view, so much as a floating object can rumble. A cutscene followed by a jumping segment has Death first racing down the snakes on his pale horse before clambering all over the ship to get up top. This, right here, was where the game stopped being loud and started getting interesting.

Atop the airship was a small “town” of emaciated and sinister freaks who were on hand to buy and sell loot, as well as offer quests. Not only will Darksiders 2’s world be four times the size of the first game, with whole dungeons lurking off the beaten track for inquisitive players to explore, but Death will have equipment slots for different pieces of armour, weapons, secondary weapons, talismans, capes and even bags. And, sure enough, when he lands some vicious blow on a monster, numbers now come floating up like abandoned balloons telling you exactly how much damage you did.

The original game’s skill unlocking system is also being ejected from the premises to make room for a vast skill tree with the important feature that even at max level, you won’t be able to unlock all of Death’s abilities. This is good, because as we all know – and I’m being completely honest here – the single most exciting part of many games is staring dumbly at the skill tree for minutes on end, agonising over what to pick next.

Speaking as someone who never saw much in the original Darksiders, the whole demo made me sit up and take notice. The combat looks richer and more colourful, the world even more eyeliner-slurpingly emo, the platforming more pacy (he’s surprisingly spritely, is Death), and the whole package looks elevated in a way that it’s much safer not expect of sequels. With the game still clinging to a release date in the misty future of “2012”, there’s plenty of time for polish, too. Keep an eye on this one. It just might be alright.

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50 Comments »

  1. MonkeyMonster says:

    The first totally passed me by till I randomly saw it combined with some DoW2 package and took a gander. Now annoyingly addicted and its really rather fun, well paced and engaging. I now understand the pain of the invisible killing car and had to dodge it too. Very much looking forward to this though.

  2. Teddy Leach says:

    Who is this ‘Quintin’? I swear they’re letting anyone in these days.

    • Raziel_aXd says:

      No they don’t. They didn’t even answer my application with some advice at least.

    • Alec Meer says:

      We’re still going through ‘em all, no decisions made yet and thus no-one contacted yet. There are *so* many.

    • westyfield says:

      I think he’s John’s son. The mother is, of course, Karen Gillan.

    • Jams O'Donnell says:

      “Quintin” is too stupid to be anyone’s real name. It’s probably Walker writing under a pseudonym.

    • Raziel_aXd says:

      Thanks Alec, I didn’t want to be completely discouraged for the future.

  3. BooleanBob says:

    Looking forward to seeing how Vigil’s marketing department tackles the next one. Will you play as Pestilence or Famine? Gonna be a hard sell either way.

  4. Jockie says:

    I enjoyed the first game quite a bit, a sort of zelda/god of war hybrid, which is rare enough on the PC.

    Unfortunately I got stuck on the sandy bit with the big wormy things and the time-slowing mechanics.

    • Gar says:

      You still have it installed? The key to those bits is just shooting your gun a lot from your horse (In case you had not figured that bit out yet). That part was definitely annoying at first, but simple if not boring and drawn out once you got the hang of it…

    • Gnoupi says:

      If blocked at the time puzzles, he doesn’t have the horse yet, I think. I think he is talking about the “instakill” worms which are chasing you as soon as you set foot on the sand, not yet about the boss.

      Time-based puzzles are stressing me, so I understand how you got blocked.

    • Jockie says:

      It’s not the actual worms. It’s one of the towers with switches in the sand, where you have to activate the time thing at the right moment, then swing across the ceiling or something. I basically couldn’t see where I was supposed to go or when I was supposed to activate the time-slow. It was a case of ‘Ah I’ll work it later’ , but never actually bothering.

    • Baka says:

      Heh, I too still have it installed and am stuck, but at a later stage.
      The whole beams and portals stuff for freeing the Archangel (I think it’s one?) confused me a lot. It doesn’t help that I try it with a pause of a few weeks between every now and then, then having NO idea where I am, where I’d have to go and where up and down is.

    • Tei says:

      I think these puzles involve sotime very fast moving trought the ceiling… Best watch a walktrought in youtube :-I

    • Howl says:

      Those towers were not very well done. They all looked similar from multiple angles and it was never clear where you were actually supposed to be headed and consequently what the barrier was to that progression or what you should do next.

      I just got the game in the Steam Summer Sale and loved it to bits. I even went through it on all difficulties and tried for achievements, which doesn’t happen often.

    • Ridnarhtim says:

      Yeah, if I had to pick a worst part of the game, it would probably be that (with the exception, of course, of the ridiculously annoying thing you have to do right at the end … you’ll know what I mean). However the next dungeon, the iron canopy, is amazing and I’d recommend just reading a walkthrough for the desert section and getting through it ^^

  5. Coins says:

    I’m looking foward to this game. I’m not a great fan of these games normally, but darksiders had a certain charm. Up to the point where all the puzzles combine in a mind-melting fashion.

  6. zergrush says:

    The first surprised me with a lot more quality than expected, am quite looking forward to this sequel.

    And Casey Jones seems to be a much better protagonist than the dude from the first game.

    • Xocrates says:

      Yeah, War was easily one of the least interesting characters in the first game.

      The game itself was loads of fun, and this one is definitely on my radar.

    • PatrickSwayze says:

      Iseewhatyoudidthere

  7. Trelow says:

    I’m really looking forward to when we get to play as Famine.

    • Baconberries says:

      Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be just as overly-musclebound as Death (on loan here from a WWF game, apparently)

    • DK says:

      There is no famine or pestilence. It’s War, Death, Fury and Strife. A Twohanded Sword brawler, nimble acrobatic scythe-ener, Whip-whielding angry Lady and Dual Pistol cool guy respectively.

      The third one is actually kind of clever. Hell hath no Fury…

    • Kablooie says:

      Too bad, pestilence or famine would be interesting.

  8. McDan says:

    Maybe I should play the first game then?

  9. Alex Bakke says:

    More of this ‘Quonton’ fellow. He should write for RPS.

  10. PJMendes says:

    Oh god Quintin’s back oh god FAP FAP FAP

  11. Ridnarhtim says:

    Sounds awesome. Not so sure I’ll like the numbers, but everything else sounds like they’re actually making a sequel, not re-releasing the same game and just adding a 2 after the title, like so many are doing right now.

  12. Olderman says:

    Funny how those dragons look like WoW’s Deathwing. Or maybe it’s just me.

  13. Davie says:

    Holy shit, Death looks like an emo Skeletor. Awesome.

  14. Vexing Vision says:

    I got Darksiders on the sale, and I really love the Zelda-vibe I’m getting from it. Zelda with blood. I like it.

  15. mbp says:

    Playing the first as we speak and loving it. Probably helps that I am an action gaming noob and never played Zelda or God of War or any of the other games that Darksiders is accused of ripping off.

    • Lemming says:

      Well in that case, for yourself it will not only seem like a pretty good game, but a highly original one as well! I truly suggest you try out the God of War series and Zelda, though.

  16. JohnS says:

    Is grey the new brown?

  17. sabrage says:

    Sold at “RPG Elements”

    I loved the first one.

  18. Kablooie says:

    Daaaaaaaamn.

    First one was pretty good, save for the puzzle-fest at the end. All the changes mentioned . . . . DS2 now has me seriously interested.

  19. Bret says:

    That fellow can’t be Death.

    He doesn’t have a “World’s Best Grandpa” mug.

  20. Dougal McFrugal says:

    they havent done death properly

    Death is a skeleton, wearing lots of black, with blue glowing eye sockets, grins a lot and likes curries.

    its not like this stuff hasnt been written about for gods sake.

    • ChiefOfBeef says:

      Said writer did acknowledge that every world has a Death. There is more than one. Some have even taken to using Combine Harvesters instead of Scythes.

      In the first game I was really frustrated by War’s lack of agility and initially at his lack of power. The upgrades solved that but I never really got the impression that this was a being that was a biblical ‘nephillim’. The world also could have benefited with being more open as it had that potential and the ‘fast travel’ system really should not have required a minute of running down an abstract road every time.

  21. Stormbane says:

    I think every game should have RPG elements. More open world character progression driven RPGs the better!

  22. 0p8 says:

    to any1 not played DS1 i loved it…………(even tho that was on the toybox360!!)