According to one of my colleagues here on The Buttonsmashers, Darksiders is basically a heavy metal Zelda game. From a gameplay point of view this is especially accurate. The game features complex dungeons, huge bosses, and a very sizable overworld to explore. All of these are aspects of gameplay that are widely associated with the Zelda franchise, which is where the comparison originates. Now where the gameplay borrows from Zelda, the story does not. Though similar, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is it’s own thing.
The story in this series is more of a of biblical fantasy styled story. In the darksiders lore you have your Angels, Demons, Humans and creatures outside of those realms which all come together to tell a complex story that can be comparable to that of most JRPGs. This mix of Adventure gameplay and JRPG story telling lends itself really well to this particular title, and though the Warmastered Edition has some strange visual bugs, they do not detract much from the overall enjoyment this game offers.
Enter The Horseman, War
Our story starts with War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse crash landing on earth in a ball of fire along with some demons and angels. War realises that he is the only horseman present; however, this does not deter him and he proceeds to immediately tear apart the ranks of both factions without any form of distinction or remorse. The fearless horseman is however soon stopped due to sudden loss of his abilities, and brought to face the Charred Council, mediators created in time immemorial by the creator to keep the balance between the never-ending war of the forces of Heaven and Hell.
War is accused of destroying the balance by bringing about the Apocalypse prematurely, aiding in the destruction of mankind, and siding with the forces of Hell. War protests his innocence and demands a chance to find the real culprits, as well as to restore balance. The Council agrees on two conditions; he will lose his former power and he will be bound to one of their keepers, the Watcher, who has the power to kill War if he strays from his mission.
So much Plot
The plot in this game becomes progressively complex the more War interacts with the the fallen third kingdom (earth) to the point that I found myself craving more lore about the characters and environments. This game was initially released back in 2010. Which means that I have had enough time to acquire all the books, and it’s sequel, yet still I crave more. That is a testament to just how engrossing the Darksiders plot is.
It’s the kind of game that you enter for the gameplay, but stay for the story. This is not to say that the gameplay is lackluster or anything like the sort. Infact it’s just as brilliant as the story. Combat in Darksiders follows a hack and slash style that one would expect in games like the aforementioned Legend of Zelda series and the original God Of War trilogy. War is a bulky character that initially handles like he looks, but he quickly becomes more versatile in combat situations.
As he gains new abilities, the horseman becomes a one man army that can take on any foe, no matter their size and he’s not shy about it. Combos are handled by the using the face buttons, and they can be further modified with the triggers to make an otherwise simple system complex enough for those who invest the time to learn it.
When War isn’t wrecking foes, he’s mainly traversing dungeons and solving environmental puzzles. None of the puzzles I encountered in this game were what I would consider to be difficult. They were challenging enough that I felt satisfied after completing them. There’s a “Eureka!” feeling after solving a puzzle that I’ve only really experienced with the Zelda franchise and Golden Sun. These are well complemented by epic battles with a boss or mini-boss. Each of these formidable foes are unique and powerful in their own right, but once you’ve figured out their pattern you’ll be able to make easy work of them in no time.
War gains a wide arsenal of weapons at his disposal throughout this redemption tale. He has a massive sword, Chaoseater which has the ability to absorb Chaos energy from defeated enemies, hence the name. This energy is used to unleash War’s powerful Chaos Form. A monstrous flaming demon from which war takes on temporarily when he’s fully powered. War also has his beast of a horse, Ruin as well as a Crossblade, Tremor Gauntlet, and Scythe. With this wide array of tools along with other abilities he gains like slowing time and gliding, War is a sight to behold. Though it may seem like a lot this is all easy to execute and fun too.
The voice for war is brilliantly executed by the talented Liam O’Brien. His take on the character is so exceptional that it’s easy to empathize with his situation. War’s calm yet menacing voice made him an awesome character to back throughout his entire adventure. Every time there was a dialogue scene I was completely immersed in what ever was on screen. This is because it’s not only War has an exceptional voice actor, all of the characters do. They all come off as authentic creatures thanks to the meticulous directing from Vigil Games and marvelous voice acting.
Let’s put all the praises on hold for a bit
This may be a remaster of one of the best games ever made, but it is not without it’s flaws. You can even quote me in saying that, “this is less of a remaster, and more of a scaled up port”. The textures in the game are a bit better than it’s predecessor, but not by much. These are essentially the same assets that were used for the original Darksiders that was released for the PS3, XBOX 360 and PC back in 2010, and I wouldn’t expect the publishers to redo them just to re-release the the game at a reduced cost for newer consoles / free for PC owners that have the original game.
This version also runs at 60 frames, but I did experience some minor stutters on the XBOX ONE version. This version of the game was also plagued by weird graphical bugs, including odd texture pop-ins. None of these were game breaking; however, they bordered somewhere between disorienting and comical.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is not really a remaster as some might assume. It’s basically a port for PS4 and XBOX ONE with 4k support and better frame rates. All of which can be achieved for the most part on the PC version. With that being said, the game is still as epic as I remembered. In fact I’d say it’s even more so now that I know more about it’s lore. War is a cool protagonist of epic proportions. His story is one that I greatly emphasized with and I think you will too. Lastly, at $20 MSRP, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get this game if you haven’t played it already.
A copy of Darksiders: Warmastered Edition was provided by THQ Nordic for this review.