Darksiders II: Become Death, the destroyer of worlds

September 5, 2012

Death. The fourth and final Horseman in a quartet of riders given dominion over the earth to deliver the last judgment of mankind. In Darksiders II, you become Death as he goes on a journey to restore balance between the forces of Heaven and Hell, while also attempting to clear the name of his brother War.

Darksiders II is an action-adventure game that draws on elements of many other genres. In fact, it’s difficult to not draw heavy comparison to the games it has borrowed elements from. Unlike other games that fail in an attempt to stitch together various genres, Darksiders II does it quite well, and ends up with a consistent experience throughout.

The plot is quite heavy, and should satisfy gamers looking for an enjoyable storyline. It begins as Death visits the Crowfather in an alternate dimension, looking for proof of War’s innocence. After a fierce battle with the Crowfather, Death wakes up in the Forge Lands, the homeland of the Makers. The Makers are massive characters who are responsible for the creation of all worlds. The Makers assist Death in his journey to fight Corruption and locate the Tree of Life.

I mentioned that Darksiders II, much like the first game, borrows elements of many other titles, and that’s evident right out of the gate. The open-world combat feels like a hack-and-slash title like God of War or Dynasty Warriors, and does it quite well. The controls are quite complex and have a definite learning curve, and learning to effectively use all elements of combat is a requirement to being able to successfully defeat many of the bosses.

You’ll also soon recognize platforming elements from the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, as they are heavily used in nearly all of the dungeon levels to navigate and solve complex puzzles. Wall runs, shimmying cliff edges and traversing grids of posts extending from walls are all staples of Darksiders dungeon quests.

RPG fans won’t be disappointed with the bevy of stats to track. Primary and secondary weapon options drastically alter the combat experience and the stats of Death. Each of the other clothing items can carry various stat boosts that make Death more powerful. Death will also level up as you complete quests, enabling him to carry higher-level weapons and gear, but each level also earns skill points that can be applied to one of two skill trees.

The skill trees, Harbinger and Necromancer, provide various additional combat abilities that can be leveled up as well. As Death levels up, more powerful abilities are unlocked in each tree.  It’s also worth noting that certain items can be merged together, through an upgrade option which boosts the capabilities of that weapon or item. There is a limit to the number of times you can upgrade an item though, although that limit wasn’t completely obvious.

The worlds within Darksiders II are absolutely stunning and massive. Traversing these worlds is done either on foot or by riding Death’s pale horse, Despair. These worlds are also littered with chests that contain loot. Loot comes in the form of new items or gold that can be used to purchase weapons or abilities at various points in the game. Given the wide variety of game styles that are present in Darksiders II, I’d give developer Vigil Games a lot of credit for successfully blending these styles together.

Darksiders II was not initially on my radar, and I got off the primary quest early in the game and attempted to defeat a boss that I wasn’t capable of beating at that point and was ready to shelve the title out of pure frustration. After giving it a second shot and getting back on course, I leveled up a few times, secured more powerful weapons and got over my initially-negative reaction. The further I got in the game, the more impressed I was with what Vigil did with each of these distinct styles, and I appreciated more of what Darksiders II actually delivers: a cohesive gaming experience that literally has something for everyone. This is one you won’t want to miss.

Pros: Diverse gameplay, deep weapon system, diverse gameplay experience
Cons: Steep learning curve

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.