Darksiders, at first glance, will grasp your attention with its sleek style and wondrous and vivid approach concerning its unique art, which was designed by the comic book legend Joe Madureira. Being able to meet and speak with Joe Madureira at Wizard Wold Comic Con was a pleasure on its own, but getting the chance to get hands-on time with Vigil Games’ first attempt at a game was really a savory treat. A lot of people are still unaware as to what Darksiders is, or that the game itself even existed. It hasn’t captured the attention of many gamers as titles like Uncharted or Halo has; but that is more because Darksiders is an exceptionally new face in this generation of gaming.
In Darksiders, the player takes on the roll of War – the game’s protagonist and one of the four legendary Horsemen of the apocalypse. The apocalypse has prematurely taken place. With the world in shambles, War finds himself in search for answers as to who started this and why. With much of his power absent, War is placed in a world where angels and demons battle one another, as he makes way to find out where the other three horsemen are located, and who misled them to starting the apocalypse.
When players are first introduced to this game, they will feel extremely familiar with its combat style and movements. The interface will become a bit recognizable, as will some of the gameplay elements. This is because, to a lot of people , the overall mechanics of the game is very similar to games like God of War, Ninja Gaiden, and Devil May Cry. The game itself, like the aforementioned titles, heavily emphisizes on combos and the harvesting of “souls” (e.g. orbs) to supply War with health regeneration and experience. Although the hands-on time wasn’t enough to fully capture the game in its entirety, I was able to feel out the more important components of the game.
While playing the game, I’ve heard many folks around me utter the game’s resemblance to God of War. Things like the combat system, the action sequences, the consumption of orbs from defeated enemies, and, to some extent, the pace of the game., were all very much proverbial. Although Darksiders does seem to borrow many of its core fundamentals from other titles, it does have its own individuality that sets it apart. At its exterior, Darksiders looks and plays a lot like familiar action-adventure games that we have been exposed to. It’s essence, howbeit, is far more RPG-like than anything else. The evolution in appearance and gameplay that the character experiences as the game progresses is proof of this. Unlike the antecedent mentioned games above, the customization that War [the protagonist] can go through seems limitless. Since he’s been stripped of his powers, War has become more of an opportunist; he’ll pick things up and use them, you’ll have the ability to augment your weapons to perform different actions, you will get new gear throughout the game for you to use – just about the most important elements from an RPG are intertwined with a facade of action-adventure, making Darksiders very unique compared to other games that share a similar extrinsic facet. In the gaming industry, borrowing ideas and implementing them into your own game isn’t frowned upon if the game is, in some ways, “evolving” the idea beyond the plateau it originated from. Although it might not seem this way when you first take hold of War, you’ll very much notice a couple of additions that do make the combat feel incomparable in contrast to other games. There are some minor intolerances with the combat that might be difficult getting used to; for example, blocking. Instead of holding down a specific button to block incoming attacks, players have to time the enemy’s strike and, at with perfect accuracy, press the corresponding button to knock-back your opponent’s thrust. It might sound like a nag, but when you’re pressing the same button that’s used to dash (being that it seems blocking must be done whilst stationary), this can become a problem.
When my eyes first gazed upon the LCD TV that advertised the game’s almost picturesque visuals, I came to a halt and began admiring the accomplishments that Vigil Games had done. My eyes were cheated into thinking that what I was ogling was the work of the infamous Unreal Engine when, in fact, it was an engine crafted by the very developers of the game. With my eyes wandering about on the screen, I was able to take notice of a familiar art-style that belonged to Joe Madureira. Each character having their own authoritarian and unique looks which makes the game “pop.” If you’re expecting to compare Darksiders to games like Uncharted 2 and the upcoming God of War III, don’t hold your breath. Even though Darksiders doesn’t stand toe-to-toe when put up against visuals like Uncharted 2, it does hold its own. Personally, I think that the visuals weren’t meant to compete with these gargantuan titles. Instead, Vigil Games wanted to give the game its own personality by formulating originality in graphics, which makes the game stand out all on its own. The world sucks you in giving you a palatable welcome into a comic book-ish ambiance that still injects a hint of realism in this mythological world consumed by post-apocalyptic beings.
However, although textures and character models did look exceptional, a couple of things did affect the overall experience. For one, there was a constant and noticeable drop in framerate. In some games, the framerate drops only to a point where its either unnoticeable or acceptable. In my hands-on time with Darksiders, however, framerates were dropping at repugnant rates; almost to points where I thought the system was going to freeze. Of course, a bit of this is forgiven since the game is still going through it’s final stages of polish. With this polish, though, I am hoping that Vigil Games is able to iron out the very much intolerable issues with framerates.
One of the most pleasing aspects of the game is the massive world that you’re entitled to inspect. There’s no barrier existing between the player and the unlimited exploration that Vigil Games has graced us with. Like The Legend of Zelda games, War has the option of returning to previous locations without any restrictions. This serves as a plus for exploration junkies, like myself, who enjoy finding hidden treasures and secret gear. Once War has obtained a specific item that will help him break through certain obstacles, you have the option of re-exploring visited venues to attain objects, or enter places, you were once prohibited of. This is definitely a plus being that it adds a lot of play time to Darksiders – giving players a reason to go back.
Darksiders still isn’t a finished product since it still has about a month or so before it goes gold. Hoping that its minor issues are handled before its release, I can definitely say that it is something to look forward to. While many will continue to perpetuate the idea that it is a clone of games like Devil May Cry, I can say that after playing it, it has it’s very own uniqueness that sets it aside from these well-known franchises. If you’re looking for something to cater to your gaming needs this coming January, this game will definitely do just that. Of course, I’ve only gotten to taste a slice of this tempting pie, but I’m pretty confident that the rest of it will be just as delicious as the first piece. Darksiders is set to release January 5, 2010 in North America, and on January 7, 2010 in Europe for both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Look forward to it, folks. I sure as hell am.