Darksiders - Xbox 360

I really can’t believe we got a game this good on the first week of January. Think back. Do you remember what came out the first week of January last year? Of course you don’t. I’m sure it was Wacky Sports Beach Challenge Friendship Horse Races or something similar. The point is, I guarantee that a year from now, you will remember this game.

In Darksiders you play as War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. You have been blamed for starting a war between the angels and demons and spend the game trying to clear your name. As for the humans, we’re all dead within a few minutes of starting the game. Right there this game had my attention. I can’t remember the last game where every human is wiped out within seconds, and yet the game itself hasn’t even begun yet. We have no place in this, it’s all about the shit going on between Heaven and Hell.

Originally I was going to try really hard to not resort to the ole “Darksiders is like ____ meets ____“ routine but I won’t lie, I don’t think it can be done. However, although the game does quite liberally borrow elements from a lot of other games, it mixes them together in a pretty unique way. Comparisons can certainly be drawn to God of War, but a more accurate parallel is actually Legend of Zelda. However it’s not at all a bad thing. I mean really, how many other games can be summarized by saying that it’s like a Legend of Zelda game only instead of Link, you play as one of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Until now, that number was zero.

As cool as it sounds though, I actually found the story to be one of the weaker elements of the game. It’s certainly not terrible by any means, but it’s not very engaging. I found myself awaiting the end of most cut scenes so I could hop back into the actual game. Each to their own I suppose as I’ve heard from several other people that the story was a huge motivator for them to continue through the game. So I’ll let you guys decide this one for yourselves.

At first I didn’t quite get the frequent comparisons to Legend of Zelda. For the initial sections of the game everything has more of a God of War feel as it is very combat centric. Sure both War and Link have swords, but as far as I could remember Link never used his to slice angels in half, which is unfortunate.

No, it’s not until you get to the first “dungeon” where the Zelda influence really starts to shine through. Once you pick up a boomerang like object and start throwing it through flames to light up other objects, you will immediately know where the comparisons come from. Throw in skull pieces instead of heart containers (finding four gets you an extra life meter), a horse, and oh so much more, and you pretty much have yourself the darker Zelda that everyone has been clamouring for for years.

Of course none of that would mean anything if the execution wasn’t there but my friend there’s no need to worry because this sum bitch not only feels like Zelda, but it plays just as good as Zelda! In fact I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the developers of this game sat down and just sat “fuck it, you guys just want to make a really violent Zelda game?”

The one element I kind of wish they didn’t ape from Zelda is the annoying sidekick. Darksiders’ Watcher character certainly doesn’t reach the depths of “oh my kick I want to stomp you”-ness that Navi did in Zelda, but his character felt a touch unnecessary. You are supposed to be able to summon him during the game to receive hints but I don’t remember him once telling me anything useful. He often just talked about where we were. If you’re trying to get through a puzzle room and all your sidekick has to offer is “Wow look at that lava. Better not fall in that eh?”, it’s probably ok to trick him and leave him behind.

Although some of the items and puzzles may have a Zelda feel, the combat is a different beast all together. It’s a very God of War like beast, but still. It’s a little on the button mashy side, more so in the beginning, but the combat in Darksiders is still immensely satisfying. When you start working in some of the items/combos you obtain during the game, you will never have more fun tearing through groups of demons and angels…until you play the game that is discussed in my next review anyway.

The combat really shines in the boss fights, which are all kinds of epic. The game doesn’t go easy on you either. In Zelda you usually get a couple of throwaway boss fights before they really break out the big guns. Not here. The first major boss in Darksiders will demolish you before you can even register what is happening. It’s not cheap by any means, just a challenge, and it actually makes you feel like you have accomplished something when you take him down.

Darksiders is a good-looking game but it does contain a great deal of screen tearing. I noticed it was happening almost every time I would move the camera around and I’m normally not very perceptive about these things so you know it’s pretty bad here. It doesn’t ruin the game anyway, at least for me. If you hit up the message boards apparently not everyone agrees with me on that.

Seriously though the screen tearing is about the only problem that immediately leaps to mind so if you can’t look past that then you are denying yourself one fantastic experience. Ok you kind of have to look past the Watcher character. And an average story. And things get a little drawn out as the game goes on. But that’s it! Just look past those four things and you are in for a great time!

Fun Fact – I say the word “Zelda” a total of 12 times in this short review. That’s more times than in my actual Legend of Zelda review (9 times in that one). I think that tells you everything you need to know right there.