Darksiders II

Darksiders II

The first game of a planned quadrilogy was colored in shades of brown and yellow, took place in a post-apocalyptic world. So the cheering green scenery of the first big location in the sequel is surprising. The contrast is obvious, but the result is a game looking like a starting World of Warcraft location. It still has those giant bosses, dungeons and gory scenes. But they seem to be so far away.

What we have here is the new protagonist, the second horseman of the apocalypse — Death. His combat moves are quicker than War’s. He uses scythe as a starting weapon, of course. The combat itself is more focused on dodges than previously. The hero is faster, more agile; he has different tricks, like wall-running. When it comes to character interaction or the attitude of solving problems it’s good old comic angst and vengeance again. This is the right combination of all the components of a badass action, but before you’ll see any of that you’ll have to deal with the problems of the locals, who look like giant dwarves.

This is WoW location

And those giant dwarves called Makers are supposedly very important. They establish the lore beyond that oh-shit-apocalypse-happened straightforward premise.The game takes place right after the events of the prologue of the first one. So these are the final days of apocalypse starting prematurely. So what better place to start asking questions about what the fuck is happening than the land of Architects of Creation? The answers though aren’t compelling enough to overcome the boredom of a slow-paced start structured like a tutorial.

This is your first new ability, this is the second. Here are all the old ones. Now there’s a lot of loot with color-coded rareness of items, crafting, systems. Side-quests, experience points, dungeons, chests — the game is really busy with showing all of its mechanics one by one. It takes several hours to go over this, but then it finally ends with the fantastic over-the-top boss-fight with a giant stone golem. You ride around like a hero of a western on your horse shooting weak points with your revolver (which, of course, is faster than the one War used in the first game). Hitting the target enough times gives you an opportunity to climb the giant, reach the real weak point and smash it. Not really original, but nicely executed and engaging. And this sums up the whole game.

Death’s design is a muscular version of Raziel from Soul Reaver. That’s among a million of other things the game had ripped off. Grotesque mash-up still has its own tone. When the game picks itself up after the prologue absurdity kicks in. It’s the equivalent of a Marvel movie: stupid, with a breathtaking action scenes and with a distinct comic feel. Again, not that surprising knowing the guy behind it.

This is perhaps what has turned most people off: the game was exactly what everyone expected it to be. It does all the right things, adds new mechanics, develops the story. And yet its design as much as it is a pleasure to look at is the only force that’s holding it together. It’s sometimes stretched too thin, but it holds up as an arc of a bigger story. Though it’s hardly possible that there will be a proper sequels after THQ bankruptcy. Rights to the franchise ended up inside Nordic Games. The team behind the first two games is gone, and the only definite thing going on is a HD-release of the second game for PS4 and Xbox One. Considering that Lords of Shadow 2 flopped with just five digit sales figures (and THQ complained about Darksiders II 1.5 million), this particular branch of 3D-metroidvanias seems to be in decline. Ironically that leaves hardcore Souls series as the only player on the market.

It’s a sequel that can be described as expansive. It adds more of everything and on top of that it has numerous DLCs. But all of the flaws can’t make scythes less cool and action less intense. In the end game completes the cycle and ends right where the first one did. With a cliffhanger, of course.