I once wrote in a Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 review that it definitely has the most zealous prologue in video game history. Truth is, there is another game that can dispute this title; that is Darksiders. It literally starts with an apocalypse. And though it isn’t maybe as brilliantly directed as Castlevania’s reboot, but how can you beat such dramatic premise? The judgment day had come; four horsemen of the apocalypse were summoned to the Earth. You play as one of those four — War. He is big. He is muscular. He wields a gigantic sword. He is constantly enraged. And finally, he is voiced by Liam O’Brien, who once told you that you are not prepared, and who always performs like he’s totally pissed off and has had a three day lasting constipation.

There will be blood

Arriving on Earth our hero finds out that he is alone. That it was all someone’s ruse, because the final seventh seal was not broken. War goes on a series of angsty battles against various demons in pursuit of the one who’s responsible for this, and finally ends up fighting a gigantic boss.

And this is the tutorial part, so it’s supposed to be easy, so the protagonist ends up being imprisoned by The Charred Council, mysterious creatures “overseeing the balance” while looking like big stone head statues. He cuts a very shady deal with them for a bit of “detective” work on Earth, finding the deceiver who killed billions of humans and started out a war between angels and demons, lasting more than one hundred years. Yeah, for some reason War has been kept for so long, and now he’s weakened, so good bye, overpowered abilities from the prologue, you won’t see them ‘till you are fully levelled-up and nearly through the game. I hope, at this point you are totally getting that this is a story that says “fuck logic” and bursts out in a series of delirious, bizarre events, that actually are quite entertaining. From the point of style it’s obvious lowbrow; in case you didn’t know game’s creative director was Joe Madureira, a comic artist best known for his work on Uncanny X-Men series. So, yeah this game is power-fantasy, and it’s filled with testosterone like a gym locker room.

And we meet again

A notable thing about this game is, that back in the day, when it was released, it most usually was described as Zelda wrapped up in Warhammer or Warcraft, maybe with the added scent of God of War. And it’s true, of course. But the real game’s sibling was always Castlevania, series which shifted to explorational gameplay being inspired by Zelda. There’s really no point in my nitpicking here, other than an obvious intent to define most of the Zeldas as metroidvanias. So, yeah it has a rich ramified big world filled with puzzles, bosses, minions and secrets (maybe even too big, especially if you talk about those portal section near the end, ugh). And it’s open to explore in virtually any order, but in reality to access certain areas you’d need special abilities or keys and that means sticking to the script, being a good horseman of the apocalypse and going where you are told to. That means, player will rarely be stuck somewhere, and that’s good news, because there's a lot of good stuff. The scope and scale on which Darksiders operate isn’t just big, it’s enormous. What starts as a pretty mediocre one-button-mashing slasher set in though very interesting scenery of post-apocalyptic Earth being torn apart by demons and angels turns out to be much more. Of course, no one would take away your severed heads, buckets of blood, game’s bread and butter, but there’s more to that. Riding a horse, and fighting on a horse (hey, you’re horseman after all)? Check. Shooting stuff with your pistol, with big angelic gun or while riding a gryphon in shoot-em-up section? You got it. And then there’s more and then some. One can argue that game lacks innovation, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Vigil took what they can here and there, but they didn’t lack self-irony and they took it knowing how to use it to create a game that is good entertainment.