Developer: Vigil Games
“Dear Mr or Mrs God, this is just a little note to say thanks for the plagues and the constant disruption of peoples' lives with disasters and carnage, that's all been mighty grand. However, could you please refrain from allowing games developers to flail our retinas with any more face-meltingly awful hack-and-slash games, please? KTHXBAI.”
Hopefully the big person in the sky (or the giant spaghetti monster, whichever) gets that note, because I'm fed up of games like this, and I really don't play them very often. I'll begrudgingly admit that when done with style, like Bayonetta, there's a lot going for this type of thing, intense action and fast-paced combat. Delivered properly, it can work.
Delivered smeared with excrement and you get Darksiders. That's a little harsh, as once you've got into it, it's just your incredibly average console slasher. However, I've got my PC hat wedged firmly on today and it is telling me to advise all of you out in Dealspwn land not to touch this with a ludicrous ten-foot long novelty sword. It's 35 quid and it just simply isn't worth it. Even if it has got Bennett from Commando doing the voice of one of the characters.
You play one of the Four Horsemen, War in fact, whose task it is to protect the balance between Heaven and Hell and so on. Something goes wrong, he gets blamed for the apocalypse and is then sent down with a Mark Hamill-voiced entity keeping him on the straight and narrow. This involves pressing the left mouse button a lot while hearing War go “hugh!” and “rargh!” a million times, with the occasional “Oof!” thrown in when you get hit. Sometimes you press E to perform a finishing move or two, or maybe even Space to jump in the air.
The first hour of play is constantly interrupted by cutaways to a bigger monster emerging from the ground or something exploding a bit. Honestly, it's almost constant. Thankfully, the game gets better once this stops happening quite so much, finally enabling the action to flow more. Objects and abilities spice combat up a tiny bit, but the default controls are so awkward, it becomes a pain to use them. Tellingly, they're still arranged in that D-Pad shape, indicative of how little effort has been made in porting this over.
As you progress, you do get some more interesting ways of dealing death about the place, but it's all very much going through the motions, even when you get some of the really high-powered stuff. Big monster roars at you, you dodge it's slow attack, chop it a bit, dodge it's other slow attack, repeat. It's all as basic as basic gets, with nary a hint of originality to be seen anywhere.
The storyline has been praised elsewhere, but it's difficult for this perhaps overly cynical and world-weary typist to see exactly why. The main character certainly isn't engaging, just your standard beefcake hero with ridiculous armour and an oversized weapon. What was that someone said about an obsession with gay space marines? This guy has a sword rather than a gun, but it's essentially the same thing. Had the protagonist not been such a grunting nobhead, perhaps the events that unfold in front of you might have provoked even the slightest bit of emotion. As it is, nothing emerges but weary apathy, punctuated by the dripping sound of your mind melting out through your ears.
Even visually, things are utterly drab, with some really low quality textures on display. Occasionally you get a big demon attacking you that's relatively impressive, but nothing you won't have seen a thousand times before (and probably done better, too – see Painkiller, for example). Just like the rest of the game, they're tired, uninspired and bland. A bit more colour, a more stylish approach and maybe things could have been a bit more interesting.
Perhaps if you were given this as a present, it'd probably be worth a quick blast on a wet afternoon. After an hour, you'd be bored stiff, but at least you'd have killed some time. When you look into your wallet and realise there's an empty space where 35 quid used to be, you might wonder whether it was all worth it.
If you're desperately after a hack and slasher, get yourself one of the Devil May Cry games or even Bayonetta on the consoles. On the PC, there's just no point to Darksiders, and you can tell this by the lack of any concessions made for the platform other than saying Space instead of Right Trigger. It's a shameless port with very little effort behind it, quite insulting to the PC audience that will doubtless ignore it in their droves.
- Vernon Wells is in it
- As is Mark Hamill
- Consoles have to win sometimes
- Dated and ugly visuals
- Mindless gameplay and a boring main character
- Just not a PC game
The Short Version: As average and tediously bland as you could possibly imagine, lacking any originality or excitement. Shouldn't have been released on PC.