It’s been a turbulent 6 years since Darksiders made its debut. Vigil games disbanded, THQ went under, Nordic Games snapped up the IP then promptly rebranded to THQ Nordic. Throughout the tumultuous times, Darksiders has found a way to keep itself on gamer’s minds. In 2015, THQ Nordic released the Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition to some nostalgic praise and now roughly a year later they are following up that performance with the Darksiders Warmastered Edition; making the entire series playable on modern consoles for the first time.
Meet War, just a horseman of the apocalypse that’s a really angry fella
As far as HD remasters go, Darksiders Warmastered Edition doesn’t exactly set a new standard, but it does check all of the boxes; up to 4K support, smoother frame rate, better shadowing and textures. However, Darksiders does drop the ball with the revamped cut scenes. The audio sync was way off; the mouth movement was about a second behind the dialogue and very occasionally the cut scene would end prematurely. Other than those issues, I didn’t really notice anything else broken on the technical side.
You need to deal with dirty demons to get your upgrades
In Darksiders you control War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse; you may already be familiar with Death, one the other horseman featured in Darksiders II. In War’s adventure you need to find out why War was called to Earth and how the apocalypse has started even though the seals that hold the horsemen were never broken, thus not issuing a call for all of the horsemen to ride. The story is mostly a side note in this game as the characters never really make much of an impact and the weight of their actions is about as heavy as a feather. While the story beats may be lacking, the gameplay of Darksiders more than makes up for that.
War stands over the apocalypse
If you’ve never played Darksiders before, what you are getting is a game that is clearly heavily inspired by the 3D Legend of Zelda games. When I say heavily inspired, I mean HEAVILY inspired. Darksiders builds on everything Ocarina of Time does. You are dumped into an open world where you ride your horse to different dungeons, there is “Z targeting” in the combat, “bottles” that hold health, a hookshot-like gadget, a boomerang type gadget, big boss keys to take you to a big red skull room on the map, boss fights that require the use of equipment gained in their respective dungeon, heart containers at the end of dungeons, you need to collect several pieces of a world saving item, you even fight a shadow version of yourself. Honestly, at a point it makes you wonder how Vigil was able to get away with so much.
They even have a giant spider that follows you wherever you walk
On top of the Legend of Zelda base, Darksiders adds combat that can only be described as a nod to God of War. Your character, War, pulls off flashy flowing combos using a variety of weapons such as a sword, scythe, and a gauntlet. After bashing on demons enough, they’ll have a QTE prompt floating over their head for War to pull off a Kratos-esque brutal finishing move. The scenery of the game was also reminiscent to God of War in that the enemies and NPC’s all had unique and vibrant designs, but they really stood out against the more bland backgrounds.
Just minutes away from a giant worm battle
These days, Darksiders feels unmistakably dated. The platforming and movement just feels stiff when held up to more modern games. The combat doesn’t feel incredibly rewarding and the quality of the puzzles are lacking for the first 10 or so hours of the game. You’ll be pushing a lot of blocks, climbing on a lot of wires and sections of patterned walls, and wrestling with the camera controls during intense fights in tight spaces. There’s no mistake about it, Darksiders definitely feels like a product of the late 2000’s.
Lots and lots of rope climbing to be had
Don’t let that turn you away though. If you are willing to put up with some slightly dated gameplay and a story that doesn’t quite hold much meaning, you can experience what is essentially a fantastic Zelda tribute game while you wait for Breath of the Wild. Also, with all of the attention that is being placed on this IP I wouldn’t rule out THQ Nordic finally getting around to making that third Darksiders game and wrapping up the intriguing cliffhanger at the end of the first title.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.