Something borrowedThe Darksiders franchise borrows adventure and puzzle elements from The Legend of Zelda, action and combat elements from God of War, and platforming elements from Prince of Persia, before wrapping them all up in a story based on the mythology of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
War, the first game's protagonist, has been charged with starting Armageddon early, leading to the destruction of mankind. In Darksiders II you step into the shoes of masked horseman Death, who believes War to be the victim of a conspiracy, and set off on a mission to prove your brother's innocence and restore life to all humanity.
To do so you embark on an interplanetary journey that sees you hopping between increasingly corrupted realms, each of which is packed with dungeons to explore. The dungeons are thoughtfully paced and offer a highly satisfying mixture of enemies to overcome, puzzles to solve and platforming sections to navigate.
There's a great balance between the different gameplay elements, which alternate regularly so things don't get repetitive. One minute you're fighting a horde of demonic soldiers, the next you're running along walls and swinging between platforms, and the next you're trying to figure out how to open a gateway to progress.
Variety showWielding dual scythes along with one alternate weapon which can range from speedy claws to massive hammers and maces, Death's fighting abilities are more varied and exciting than War's. Combos are fairly simple to pull off, and you're awarded points for kills that can be spent on improving close-quarters melee-based abilities or ranged ones like spell casting.
A series of giant bosses generally offer thrilling conclusions to each dungeon. Ranging from giant mechanical constructs to insectoid creatures, they often challenge you to memorise attack patterns or expose weak points using recently acquired items to defeat them.
When you're not fighting through or traversing dungeons, you'll be exploring wide-open areas and visiting hub towns, both of which offer plenty of distractions in the way of optional sub-quests between major plot points. And a new loot system introduces an item hording element to the series - there are tonnes of collectibles to find or nab from enemies, including rare weapons and pieces of armour that can be used level up your character.
Borrowing heavily from a variety of sources, Darksiders II is the video gaming equivalent of a variety show, but it manages to successfully combine a range of established ideas and gameplay elements to create one of the best action-adventure titles of the year. Improving on the original game in almost every way, it offers a deep combat system, fun platforming, largely rewarding puzzles, a huge world to explore, plus an interesting story and wonderful art direction to boot.
- Varied gameplay keeps things interesting.
- Great hacking and slashing.
- Compelling worlds with fantastic art design.
- Lacking some originality.
- A few puzzles aren't clear enough.
- Clunky menus.