Feb 18 2010
After a very substantial 20+ hours of gameplay, I’ve finally completed Darksiders. Sure, I probably could have blazed through the game in two or three fewer hours, but even then I’d have experienced more than my money’s worth of actual playing time. All in all, Darksiders wasn’t revolutionary or anything special – in fact, as I’ve explained before, the game is almost wholly derivative save for the character design – but it did enough things right that I’m glad I spent the time playing it.
When I last left off, I was in the process of slaying bosses and bringing their hearts to Samael. In return, Samael was supposed to grant me access to the Black Throne so that I could figure out who set me up to take the fall for the premature Armageddon and, naturally, slice them to bits. The game’s formula – at the heart of the game, at least – was vintage Zelda: explore a dungeon/level, find a new item/weapon, use that item/weapon to defeat that dungeon/level’s boss, and then bring that boss’ heart to Samael. Fortunately, the level designs were unique and different enough that the game never actually feels repetitive.
I found out that my gun, which I had been previously been using to collect health from crows, was essential for fighting the giant sandworms of the Ashlands, as well as the Stygian, the biggest, baddest, meanest sandworm of them all. Once I had his heart, though – which I promptly returned to Samael – the gun once again became useless except for snatching some health orbs from time to time. Fortunately, there was something else I unlocked to help me navigate through the Ashlands…finally, I had my horse, Ruin. Take a wild guess what the horseback gameplay is similar to.
At this stage of the game, bigger, more difficult enemies are more prominent, and each fight actually requires some skill. Granted, the combat in Darksiders is still sort of clunky (it’s nowhere near as smooth as brawlers like Ninja Gaiden and God of War), but I found that spamming the dash technique was the best way to fight. I was capable of blocking, and a well-timed block unleashes a powerful counter-attack, but the dynamics of the block are slow and unreliable. Really, I wouldn’t know how to fight – especially against tougher enemies toward the end of the game – without using the dash technique.
The next level to conquer after slaying the Stygian led to my discovery of the hookshot, at which point I realized that the creators of Darksiders aren’t trying to hide the fact that they’re ripping off Zelda. In fact, it almost seems as if they’re flaunting it. But hey, I dig Zelda, so I don’t mind. The boss at the end of the hookshot level – known as the Iron Canopy – was the toughest I had faced up to that point of the game. She was a giant teleporting spider demon that actually freaked me out a little bit the first time I fought her, and naturally, I had to use the hookshot just to keep up with her. And the dash technique, of course.
The following dungeon led me to a device that creates portals (just like in, uh, Portal), and was puzzle after puzzle instead of battles. It was a welcome change of pace at first, but some of the puzzles took a little but too much time for my taste. But I guess if a game like Darksiders is going to feature puzzles, they should be challenging enough so as not to seem like a total waste of time. The boss, of course, required the precise placement of portals. With all the bosses defeated, I was ready to confront the game’s final boss, the one who caused me all this trouble in the first place. Or so I thought.
Before I could fight the final boss, I needed to assemble the Armageddon Sword from seven shards hidden throughout the land. It wasn’t too tough, but after finding all the shards, I was disappointed to see that the Armageddon Sword replaced my Chaoseater sword, totally maxed out at level 4. Why would I be upset by this? Because if I knew that acquiring the Armageddon Sword would automatically max out my sword stats, I wouldn’t have spent so much time and money (or souls, rather), trying to level up my weapons. Never mind the fact that I found nearly all the weapons aside from the sword useless, and leveling them up, in hindsight, seems like a waste of time. In all honesty, it’s my one gripe about this game. I haven’t started a new game on the Apocalyptic difficulty yet, and I know I’ll feel a lot better if my “stats” carry over. I’m not very optimistic that they will.
The final boss battle wasn’t very difficult, unfortunately, and seemed somewhat anticlimactic after battling more interesting and more difficult bosses previously. I won’t ruin the surprise at the end, but the final cutscene perfectly sets up a sequel. Just remember, War is but one of the Four Horsemen.
Darksiders is indeed a quality game and is probably a must-have for any fans of the Zelda series. I doubt it’s going to be named by anyone as the game of the year, but it’s certainly solid in many respects. It’s good enough that I’ll buy the inevitable sequel (The Legend of Zelda: Darksiders?) and, soon enough, try to beat the game on the Apocalyptic difficulty setting.
3.75 out of 5 stars
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