Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Darksiders II

Darksiders II is an action role-playing, hack and slash game developed by Vigil Games and published by THQ. It is the sequel to the 2010 game Darksiders and stars War's brother, Death. Death has rode off to restore humanity in order to free his brother who was blamed for prematurely starting the apocalypse in the previous game.

You know how Darksiders is compared to Zelda? Darksiders II has a lot more in common with it than the first game. We start off in a fantasy setting riding on a horse, there are several different dungeons to explore with puzzles to solve, and there are bosses with a specific strategy that needs to be utilized in order to defeat them. What bothers me about this approach is that we're taken away from the apocalypse setting of the first game and it can be easy to forget the apocalypse happened.

The dungeons are forgettable, I hate to say. I can't remember much about them apart from lava, water, and all the wall climbing that's consistent with everywhere you go. There isn't a lot of puzzle variety, either. You have one puzzle that requires a ball to be put in a circle on the ground that is used in pretty much every dungeon you go to, and the only real add on comes later in the form of a large stone robot you can ride.

Since Darksiders II is an action RPG fighting enemies result in leveling up, which then allows you to unlock new skills to use in battle. The hack and slash elements are still there, but if you were hoping for more combos to work with than in the first I'm afraid it doesn't have that much more than the first one did.

  A to jump? I never would have figured that out!

Death can wall climb on certain surfaces provided the texture looks smooth enough. This is utilize in a lot of ways by combining it with various climbing obstacles recycled from the first game and upgrades you get later. You need to jump at just the right angle or else you're going to fall. For a horseman he sure can't climb very far, can he? Or jump, for that matter. Who thought it was a good idea to remove the double jump? And I swear these controls are oversensitive, I'll be trying to move a little to the left and right while climbing and Death will slide all the way over to the left whether I want him to or not. Or he'll move past the spot on a pillar I need him to hang from in order to make a jump, which makes lining him up properly a pain.

You have a mini map on the bottom right corner of the screen that shows you your next designation, and on top of that a raven named Dust who shows you the correct path to take, when he feels like it. I had to push down on the control stick a couple of times to get him to work properly. Some times he wouldn't show, and other times he'd fly off in the wrong direction. When your compass has no sense of direction there's a problem. Dust is shown as the little purple circle you see on the image above. Darksiders II also includes a new “fast travel” feature which allows you to return to the last place you visited when you're finished with a dungeon. 

Since it's a RPG this time around we have to worry about our stats just as much as our life gauge. Stats are also determined by the weapons and armor you have equipped, different weapons and armor offer different benefits and it's ideal to have the strongest weapons and armor available and discard the rest. There are towns you can visit where you can purchase new equipment and items that restore your health and wrath gauge. You can also loot for various items by destroying objects, finding chests, and killing enemies. Potions give you the option to pick it up or just use it on the spot.

Once again you have a primary and secondary weapon that you can switch between at the push of a button. Mixing the two together allow you to come up with different combos to bring the pain. We have scythes, hammers, and claws as just a few examples of what you get your hands on and a revolver. There are also different abilities like the teleport jump and calling on the dead to help you fight that can be assigned to the button configuration of your choice. Then we have Reaper form, which takes the place of War Chaos form in the first game, which makes you bigger and stronger in order to take down bigger and stronger opponents. The “press B to finish him” stuff is still there, but isn't as in your face as the first one. A lot of the time I forget it's there.

  Ride like the wind, Bullseye!

Right from the start you get a horse to ride on. You can summon him anywhere in the open world and attack enemies while riding. He's even necessary in one boss fight that comes in later. You can charge head first into enemies destroying them on contact or swing your scythe from horseback. Once you get the revolver you can use it while riding as well. Never go anywhere on foot, it's boring.

Enemies in the game range from ice monsters, four-legged beasts, insects that buzz around you, and I saw some skeletons in the second overworld. The enemies you fight just aren't that memorable. I'm having trouble even remembering the bosses I fought despite them sticking out more because they're bosses. First one to come to mind is the old guy who takes the form of War near the beginning of the game. But to be fair, Darksiders I didn't exactly have the most memorable groups of enemies either.

  Looking good, fellas, and lady.

This time around we learn that the Four Horsemen are actually Nephilim (there's that word again) the union between angel and demon. There was a war where the Nephilim conquered realm after realm before War, Death, Fury, and Strife made a deal with the Charred Council and became the Four Horsemen and fought against their brothers and sisters to put an end to the conflict. This is the second time “Nephilim” has been used to refer to a angel/demon hybrid. They do know it was a term for a union between a human and angel right? Right?

Death is cool. I have no complaints about his character. He's exactly what you'd come to expect from a hack and slash game where the point is to be a badass and kill things. He looks cool and can back up every threat he gives. What I do think he lacks is a strong support cast. In the first game War was thrown in the middle of a war zone between angel and demon, he interacted with the Charred Council, the Warden tasked to keep him in line, and various other characters that balanced out his "man of few words" persona. Death is thrown in the middle of nowhere, talks to an old guy, and then interacts with the Makers. And I like the Makers. They have the dwarf vibe going for them and the banter is funny, and you eventually are accompanied by one of them and meet a merchant later. But it pales in comparison to everything the first game throws at you.

Conclusion: Darksiders II is... different. If you're looking for another fun game in a post-apologetic setting, I have bad news for you, buddy, this isn't it. If you were looking for another action-adventure experience, this isn't it either. In an industry that is afraid to try new things, I have to commend Vigil Games for having the guts to not only change the setting, but change the genre as well and introduce those elements in a new presentation. It's not going to compete with all the various action RPGs out there, but if you liked the first game, you may be able to get some enjoyment out of this. Just don't go in expecting a rehash of Darksiders I.

Try it.

No comments:

Post a Comment