What do you get when you mix Zelda and God of War? Banal, overacted garbage that takes itself too seriously while failing to deliver even the smallest amount of fun. This is quite possibly one of the most derivative, overrated games ever made. Unoriginality isn’t its only flaw, though: The story is ridiculous and a huge waste of potential, the controls are absolutely worthless, the PC version of the game is so lacking in every way that I would actually be surprised if they put any work into it, and from beginning to end, the whole thing is filled with meaningless fluff.
First, the story: It takes actual talent and skill to make a story about war between heaven and hell boring, but that’s exactly what they’ve done. Somehow they’ve taken some of the most interesting characters, from the horseman of the apocalypse main character to a number of angels and demons, and turned them into one-dimensional figures so shallow and uninteresting that even the most uninspired Bioware character would blush.
Even worse, it takes itself way too seriously. Each overemotional line delivered by the main character (again, a horseman of the apocalypse) sounds more like a teenager with daddy issues than whatever ideal of badassery the developers had in mind. It’s like they didn’t know how to write anything credible using such complex characters, so they instead reduced the entire game to “dramatic, overemotional speech, followed by blurry, uninspired combat.” Everything the main character says is whiny and irritating, and the other characters don’t fare much better, with hell coming across as utterly incompetent and heaven seemingly comprised of feathery emos. The entire setting is wasted.
“Oh, but don’t play it for the story,” you say. “It’s the combat where this game is supposed to shine,” you say. It doesn’t. The combat is equally uninspired, drawing on a number of different sources and generally being a dodge/clickclickclick/dodge/clickclickclick affair. The controls on PC are atrocious, and the game is so poorly ported that I couldn’t even get my gamepad to work without the camera going crazy and making the whole thing unplayable, so those awful controls are what I was stuck with. Now, this is probably better on consoles, but that doesn’t change the fact that the combat is uninspired. It’s the same combat you’ve seen a dozen times before, but the weight of the characters and movements are so off that it feels strange, and the whole thing is incredibly glitchy.
It’s possible to be in the middle of a flurry of attacks on an enemy and, midway through the combo, get hit by them. This makes no sense. The ability to completely disregard your attacks without blocking or anything is just wrong, and it smacks of laziness. That’s not the only combat bug I found, either. When you get an enemy’s health down low enough, you can finish them off with a finishing move. The key for doing this is the same as the “grab” key, and it frequently fails to register that nearby enemy who can be finished off. The end result of this is that rather than fluidly moving from enemy to enemy to finish each off, you’re stuck standing next to an enemy hitting the finisher button over and over, waiting for it to finally register. Like I said—lazy.
The weight, as I mentioned before, is off. It’s hard to describe, but swinging your sword feels like swinging a feather. There’s no momentum, and these weird physics extend to more than just combat. Certain sections require jumping, but the main character is inexplicably heavy and seems to fall too fast, as though gravity is pulling down on him more than anything else. It makes platforming difficult, especially since the edges aren’t really where you’d expect; for some reason, if you don’t jump a moment earlier than you expect to have to, you’ll wind up missing whatever you’re aiming at. I don’t know if it’s related to the character weight or what, but it’s not acceptable for a game that uses so much platforming. The whole thing smacks of lazy game design, as though the game was thrown together at the last minute.
There are also disappearing/randomly spawning enemies. I don’t know why this happened, but they’d often vanish and reappear without any explanation as to why. They’re not some kind of teleporting enemies; these are your run-of-the-mill baddies who just bug out for no reason. It’s sloppy, and that’s just one of the many bugs that I had to put up with. There were also a huge number of instances where the game would overexert itself (doing what, I have no idea) and crash. There’s no excuse for this.
A large part of the game consists of puzzles. Not entertaining, well-designed ones like in Lufia 2, but rather, puzzles that take everything that make Zelda games exhausting and tedious and amplify those elements. There’s lots of mandatory backtracking and dealing with keys and switches and guardians who you have to defeat to open doors… everything that you could dislike about a Zelda game can be found here. You even have a guy who follows you around and at one point says something along the lines of, “Hey, listen to me!”
The similarities to other games aren’t similarities. These are blatant ripoffs, from the “battle with your dark form” (Dark Link, anyone?) to the portal gun (I’m serious, and it’s not half as fun to use as you’d think). This game has managed to take many of the things that define other games and turn them around into boring, exhausting chores.
The graphics are horrible. Sorry, but they really are. The edges of everything are aliased, there are more low-quality textures and downsampled videos than can even be relayed through text, and the art design does little to allay any of this. While the colors are sometimes pleasing, more often than not they’re being blurred by combat (you rarely see more than metric tons of blurring and bloom).
Darksiders is full of things that seem to have been added to give players an OMGAWESOMEgasm, but instead slip into the depths of pathetic fanservice. Those keys you have to hunt down that I mentioned before? They go to doors where the locks are eyes, and when you use the key the door bleeds out of its eye. This game was made for twelve year-olds who think this is awesome, I swear. For anyone with a shred of intelligence who would prefer a compelling story over meaningless random violence for its own sake, this game has nothing to offer.
Here’s what you should do: