Developer(s) – Vigil Games
Publisher(s) – THQ
Director(s) – David Adams & Joe Madureira
Producer – Timothy Bell
PEGI – 18
Part of the legacy of the now-defunct Vigil Games, Darksiders garnished an unprecedented amount of critical acclaim upon release, including a perfect score from UK publication Play Magazine. Combining elements of God of War, Devil May Cry, and The Legend of Zelda series’, it was most definitely another one of the greatest titles of the seventh generation in my opinion, and a key reason why I was sorry to see Vigil Games disbanded.
Graphics – 9/10
Like another big-name hack and slash game that came out in the same year, God of War III, this game made an extremely explosive and intense first impression on gamers; in terms of gameplay, but also in terms of its impressive visuals. There is an incredibly detailed FMV sequence to start off with, depicting the coming of the apocalypse and the arrival of the game’s main character, the horseman War. But aside from this, the conceptual design throughout the rest of the game is nothing short of spectacular. Combining a post-apocalyptic Earth with elements of Christian mythology and gothic architecture, it all gives the game an insanely unique and wonderfully dark atmosphere.
Gameplay – 9/10
Playing out very much like a combination of both God of War and Ocarina of Time, it was inevitable that I would personally enjoy Darksiders from start to finish. The combat system is extremely fluent, working on largely the same principles as Ocarina of Time, but aside from that, there is also a fair amount of side quests to keep players busy in between undertaking the main story segments, and even elements of different kinds of games to keep things diverse. For example, the game also has mechanics extremely to Portal, which must be used to solve various puzzles, and even beat one of the game’s fascinating boss fights. The first boss in the game, in particular, Straga, is on my personal list of top ten favorite boss fights.
Controls – 10/10
The core control scheme of Darksiders would have been simple enough to have gotten right, but aside from this, what is most impressive is how the developers managed to incorporate a plethora of additional gameplay mechanics such as portal-traversing, horse riding, platforming, even third-person shooting, and make the entire experience extremely simple to get to grips with. It may all seem over-complicated at first, but it’s delightfully surprising how quickly players will be able to adapt to it all.
Lifespan – 6/10
Clocking in at about 10 to 15 hours, it’s a fairly impressive lifespan for a game of its kind, since God of War games only tends to last for around 5 to 6 hours, but after playing it for the first time 5 years ago, I couldn’t help but think that there could have been so much added to it to give it even a small amount more longevity than it ended up having. Luckily, the sequel would arrive and address this issue flawlessly, ultimately making for an even better game than the first in my opinion, but the original game was obviously a way to simply test the waters, and see how much the developers could add to a game like this.
Storyline – 9/10
Aside from there being great visuals, great gameplay, and wonderfully executed control mechanics, Darksiders also has an exceptional story attached to it. As the apocalypse falls upon humanity, as prophesized, the horseman War is summoned, but the other three, Strife, Fury, and Death, are strangely absent from the battlefield in the midst of the war between Heaven and Hell. It soon comes to light that the seventh seal has not been broken, and the horsemen’s governing body, the Charred Council, accuses War of disrupting the balance by bringing about the apocalypse prematurely. War asserts his innocence and asks the Charred Council for a chance to be returned to Earth to find the one who is truly behind this. The Council agrees, and War is set on his path, bound by another servant of theirs called the Watcher, who has the power to kill War if he strays from his objective. The story is filled with a plethora of twists and turns before the end, and features voice talent from some of the best in the industry, including Troy Baker as Abaddon, and even Mark Hamill as the Watcher, who delivers one of the most interesting performances I’ve seen in any video game.
Originality – 7/10
Combining elements from many different games can simply be considered as unoriginal, and if not done effectively enough, can lead to a game going disastrously wrong, and not working at all. This game, however, does it both right, and in an extremely effective manner, as all the mechanics influenced by many other games to have been released throughout the years come together with flawless to provide players with a surprisingly cohesive concept. It’s a compelling blend of both old and new video game elements, which all work together, forming a truly fantastic and unique title.
Overall, Darksiders is an amazing gaming experience, and I would highly recommend it as a must-have for anyone with a seventh-generation console. The sequel would go on to blow the original game out of the water, but that’s not to say that this game should be skipped; even if they do both take place in the same time frame story-wise.