The world is great: Linking all of the dungeon areas and pockets of brutal fighting in Darksiders is a great hub world. The world is designed beautifully (combining stark apocalyptic visuals with lush greens and destroyed temples) and feels very deep and multi layered with hidden nooks and crannies all over the place to find items and upgrades. Wherever you see you can probably go to, unlike many games that put up false walls where you probably hoped there wouldn’t be. The environment is wide open with a lot of different level layouts and ways to traverse through it. Unlike many action games that are A to B, Darksiders encourages and rewards constant exploration with large amounts of souls, the games currency, and is designed in a way that I never mind jumping off the beaten path.
As the game progresses and the player collects more and more abilities the hub world is populated with more difficult and bigger enemies that are running around to try and ruin your day. Because it’s in the open world, you don’t have to fight them, but they give you the chance to try out your new moves and fight harder enemies for the personal experience. This keeps the threat of the world forever increasing instead of allowing the player to become stagnant and the world to become boring and predictable.
Sometimes the world opens up to let you ride the horse and, even though the horse is pretty much useless, it’s still nice from time to time to move faster than War’s legs can carry him and experience a small bit of what could have been a much better feature.
Besides the slotting and leveling up weapons, the upgrade system is fairly uncomplicated: There is the standard “collect several of an item, upgrade your health, magic, etc.” functionality. Nothing too crazy, but I figured I’d mention it to counter balance my issues with the frivolity of the other aspects of upgrading I mentioned earlier.
A game that was not afraid to take risks but understands pedigree: Darksiders was a risky project because trying to follow the Zelda model while making an action heavy game just sounds like something that could be awesome or could be destined for complete and utter failure. I’d say the game leans more toward the awesome side because despite following a lot of gameplay conventions, Darksiders feels more like an homage than a rip off.
Darksiders is a game that is focused on swords and magic yet pulls out 3rd person laser gun shooter sections with ease. The platforming might not be perfect, but it works well enough and can lead to some great moments of game design that couldn’t otherwise be done with a traditional flat ground plane and sure as hell is better than the current trend of on rails jumping. There is a portal gun and a hookshot in the same game, and both work extremely well. There’s also a lot of variety that I am leaving out, both on purpose and because it’s been awhile since I played the game.