Developer: Vigil Games
Release Date: 8/14/2012
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THQ and Vigil return with a new protagonist and tons of improvements over the first game. This time you play as Death, War’s brother, who is trying to redeem War from the Charred Council’s wrath for destroying humanity. On your adventure, you meet new and old faces, as well as a ton of puzzles, bosses, and combat, as well as new abilities.
The first thing I have to mention is that this game isn’t nearly as confusing to play as the first game. I was always lost and had no idea what to do. Even finding hidden chests was a pain. This time around there are lots of collectibles and chests, as well as some free roaming, but in a more organized fashion. You wind up traveling through three different realms that each has their own secrets. The Forge Land is where you start, and you can buy armor and weapons, so Vulgrim plays a small part this time around. By finding Book of the Dead pages and Boatman coins you can trade them in for special keys as well as random boxes with a piece of armor or weapon with Vulgrim. There are lots of different items to collect and find, so loot is abundant here.
My favorite part about the game is the platforming. It’s just so fun and fluid as well as fast-paced. The level design is ingenious here because it seems labyrinthine at first, but I rarely had to go to a walkthrough to figure out where to go or what to do. Death even gets to acquire some abilities that are just for puzzle solving like the Soulsplitter which allows him to split into two and the Voidwalker, which makes a return from the last game. I found the puzzles to be really fun, and they were just challenging enough to where you only had to think for a bit then it all clicked. The satisfaction reminded me of how I felt when solving puzzles in Portal.
Secondly, the combat is a lot better than the last game. Death feels fast, fluid, and has a lot more moves at his disposal than War did. You can buy over 20 new moves throughout the game, as well as upgrade your skills. You will need to play the game twice to be able to upgrade all the skills, but what I did unlock was fun. Eventually, certain moves leached health from enemies, gave me more Wrath (needed to do these moves), and stunned enemies. You can turn into Reaper from for a while which does a lot of damage and you take very little damage. Overall, the combat was just fine, but the camera had issues. Every so often when I was in a tight corner the camera didn’t know what to do. It didn’t happen often, but when it does you can’t really see what’s going on and will take hits. After the Forge Lands, the game gets extremely difficult. I died multiple times during certain fights because they were so hard. You also get fewer health potions later on which can lead to frustrating deaths.
The boss fights are some of the best things the game has to offer. There are plenty of them and they are fun but challenging. You have to be quick and dodge and learn the enemies moves. There isn’t a block button here so the game can get really tough. I did find the final boss disappointing because I beat him in one try in just a few short minutes. Besides these issues, the combat is fun, solid, and well done.
I did find the game a bit repetitive after a while. It was the same thing over again just in different orders. Fight these enemies, solve this puzzle, do this platforming bit. Most action adventure games are like that, but Darksiders II doesn’t offer much variety. Even the enemies repeat constantly to the point to where you just get sick of killing them. The only time I felt excited about combat after the mid-way point was the boss fights. Thankfully the game is just overall fun, so even when you feel the game is getting old you will want to press on.
The game looks pretty good with a gorgeous art style. The textures can look a bit ugly up close, and I was disappointed that Vigil didn’t include any PC specific features. In fact, the graphics options only allow you to change the resolution and V-Sync doesn’t even work. The keyboard and mouse controls are clunky, so stick with the Games for Windows controller if you have it. There are plenty of collectibles in the world so people who are dedicated to that will stay busy. This is one long game ranging at about 15-20 hours if you just go through the story and most side quests. If you complete it 100% you are looking at close to 40 hours of gameplay here. I just couldn’t find the motivation to collect everything like in games such as the new Batman games and Assassin’s Creed. After I got towards the end of the game I just wanted to finish it and be done.
Overall, Darksiders II is a solid action adventure game with some minor issues. There are no PC specific graphics options, there are camera issues during combat, and the final boss fight is a disappointment. Enemies repeat often, and the same puzzle, platform, combat formula follows throughout with not much variety, but the game is fun. There are a lot of the collectibles and a few side quests, and the boss fights are a blast. If you loved the first game you will love this even more. People who didn’t like the last one should check this out.