Variety always seems to be a first and foremost focus of Darksiders and the enemies are no different. There is a large amount of different enemies that look different, fight differently and have enough different health/strength/attacking traits to avoid the common mental cue of “Not again…” brought on by encountering the same old creatures over and over. There are exceptionally weak enemies that can be killed with one attack as well as enemies that take a lot of punishment and an equal amount of strategy to conquer.
Balanced health is also important, and basic grunts aren’t made to be sword sponges absorbing tons of hits before dying and instead feel like they die in an adequate amount of hits. There is honestly nothing that I hate more in a brawler than having to bash a final weak grunt enemy repeatedly for longer than need be and that this alone is prohibiting me from moving on.
I don’t want to say the blatantly obvious thing here, but fun, responsive and varied combat is the cornerstone to action heavy hack ‘n slash/brawler type games, especially for a game that is focused on a lengthier single player experience. Darksiders comes through on all levels, even with a couple of gimped weapons and a mostly borked mount option, which is impressive.
QTE? WTF does that mean?: The term action game these days generally conjures up the idea of jamming on buttons or well-timed presses of random buttons to kill every last thing on the face of the planet or to open up treasure chests or the many other things that Quick Time Events stand for. Thankfully QTEs are limited to killing bosses and a few other points in the game. Everything else is handled with single button presses.
Puzzles in an action game: One of the hallmarks that people look forward to in Zelda games are the item based intelligent puzzles that are in every dungeon. Darksiders runs with that (even straight up stealing mechanics and ideas) with good results. It’s rare that in a game with so much brutality and crazy action oriented gameplay that there would be breaks that involve lighting torches to open doors or examining the environment to figure out what to do next, but it does, and I love it.
In addition to the Zelda-esque puzzles, Darksiders offers up a portal gun to continue the straight up rip-off of great game elements and while the guns are perhaps not used as well as in the source material, the portal gun is used in a very clever manner through a long dungeon for just about every puzzle, each different from the last. The gun is used so well that it doesn’t feel strangely out of place in the post apocalyptic ruined Earth of Darskiders and outside of the usual trappings of Prey and Portal.