Deconstructing the Game: Darksiders

(Un)like a boss: The bosses in Darksiders can be humongous, aesthetically well designed and exciting to fight, but after the initial freshness wears off you soon begin to realize that some of the fights can go on way too long without any true escalation or hint of doing enough damage to finish the fight. This includes not having the bosses get harder as they get hurt more or having “rage” fits so it just becomes tedious.

In a hack ‘n slash/beat ‘em up game the last thing you want to do is make the fighting seem ineffective or repetitive. While Darksiders doesn’t suffer from this usually, boss fights that take too long starts to introduce those elements into the psyche of the player damaging the feeling of overall gameplay skill progression and hurts the impression of the game’s overall fighting style. This effect could cause a player to just shut off the game midway through or directly after the fight instead of creating the real feeling of accomplishment that would promote continuing onward after the fight to see what’s next.

The designers are clearly not fans of universal health care: While Darksiders is not a particularly hard game, at least not most of the time, there were these times when I would be rather low on health because of an exceptionally brutal battle or some environment hazard or other thing in my way that I just couldn’t figure out how to get around without losing a large amount of health. It was always one of those Zelda moments, most akin I’d say to Zelda II, where you have almost no health and yet you must traverse multiple dangerous environments and perhaps even part of a dungeon before any health might be replenished.

This left me often times feeling weak, and sacred to take risks. Any fights I would enter while left with such a low amount of energy became a lot less exciting and more about pure self preservation. But this was all a perceived fear, as dying wouldn’t really do anything negative, aside from causing a checkpoint restart with full health. This restoration of health on death made the imbalance of finding healing items and souls seem overly arbitrary, especially because it essentially meant the player should just kill himself in order to enter the next battle at full health.

I need to see a man about a horse… and a gun: Two things that could have been awesome, the hand gun and the horse, end up falling flat because of a lack of development and implementation. Both are acquired very late in the story and don’t add enough to the overall scheme of things to make much of a difference in the gameplay.

The horse is limited by a great deal of factors and feels like it was thrown in to further draw the comparison to the more recent Zelda games. The environments in Darksiders were clearly not made for having a mount of any kind running through them. War traverses the areas just fine, but on the horse it just becomes a more clunky means of conveyance. On top of that many of the sections of the game won’t even allow War to mount his horse making it feel even more useless.

The one saving grace for the horse is that at least one part of the game was designed completely around the horse. A couple or so boss battles are set in large open environments and so the horse feels great riding around the enemy getting ready to strike, although every time the horse gets hit he goes away, which in itself causes an annoying loop of losing the horse, calling the horse, etc.