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Darksiders 2 reviews begin: the VG247 verdict

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 17:43 GMT By Dave Cook

Darksiders 2 is out this week in the States, kicking off the pre-holiday rush of game releases. Has THQ got a winner on its hands? Dave Cook rides with Death to find out.

With a smaller release slate focused on quality, as well as a reshuffled pack of talent, publisher THQ has its sights set on resurgence, and in Darksiders 2, it most certainly has a winner on its hands. Cast from the same mould as the Zelda series and showing similarities to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Vigil’s follow-up is a solid start to the pre-Christmas release calendar.

Set around the same time as the original Darksiders, Earth is ravaged by a premature apocalypse and one of the four horsemen War is being blamed for the mix-up. His brother Death refuses to believe that War is to blame, and sets off in search for the tree of life to clear his name.

It doesn’t take long for parallels with Zelda – specifically Ocarina of Time – to appear, as Death navigates his way through the starting dungeon. It’s cramped, it’s dark and Death’s move set is restricted to a few light and heavy swipes. It’s nothing to ring home about, but that’s the point.

Before long you’ll be walking out on to the grassy expanse of the game’s sprawling mythical world and that cramped starting area now feels insignificant. It’s like taking your first steps into Hyrule field essentially, and the impact here is similar. It’s a sight to behold, thanks in large part to Vigil’s abstract art style and the vibrancy at hand.

So off Death rides on the back of his trusty steed Despair in search of more dungeons to tame, and there are many – some central to the plot, others are tucked away, hiding new gear and items needed to complete side quests. There is much to discover and you may quickly realise that Darksiders 2 is no mere weekend distraction, it’s a real time sink.

Town hubs are where Death will be given most of his quests, and they are also places for players to learn new skills, stock up on supplies and potions, as well as buying new armour or weapons. But for the best part, you will be wading into packs of beasts and mythical constructs, tearing them apart with Death’s fearsome arsenal.

Combat is mapped out across light and heavy attacks. Death always unleashes light attacks with his scythes, working slashes, launchers, air juggles and ground pounds into the mix. It’s a simple system that works well, bolstered by heavy attacks from Death’s secondary weapons, which are mostly massive and include maces, axes and more.

Locking on to enemies during battle works well, backed up by a dependable camera system. However, when locked on to a particular foe, the viewpoint focuses perhaps a little too much, marring your peripheral vision and leaving you open to cheap back or side attacks.

You can use Death’s dodge manoeuvre to keep moving out of your enemy’s range, but on the hardest difficulty setting, cheap deaths due to zoomed lock-on can frustrate, especially when some checkpoints plonk you at the start of an unskippable cut scene before trying the battle again.

Elsewhere, Vigil’s dungeon design is smart, working in a variety of puzzles that see Death rolling circular weights around to activate pressure pads, throwing explosive around and shooting them with his brother Strife’s revolver, and reanimating stone golems and using them to clear rubble and create walkways over pits with their grappling hook.

In typical genre fashion, these dungeons follow set themes. You have an industrial molten lava plant, a lush forest temple and – like Ocarina of Time – a puzzle-riddled water temple. It’s not as pad-smashingly frustrating as Nintendo’s water temple however. Thankfully.

Defeated enemies drop currency, as well as new weapons and armour – sometimes coming with elemental properties such as fire which burns over time, and other attributes. You will also unlock Wrath powers, which see Death summoning ghouls to fight alongside him, unleashing flocks of crows and other moves, including a rather helpful shield skill – which is useful when fighting in the game;s many enclosed arena battles.

Darksiders 2 is a big win for THQ despite a few minor niggles. It may have combat to match God of War, but not the awe-inspiring spectacle. It has the same world and dungeon structure as the Zelda series, but not its heart.

What Darksiders 2 does do however, is deliver a sombre take on the genre, while working in a number of RPG elements to lend a degree of strategy to its hack n’ slash combat mechanics, as well as giving you no shortage of quests to complete and trinkets to unearth.

Vigil is clearly an imaginative bunch too. The studio has created a compelling world that could sustain many more adventures, as well as a solid story to drive progression. Darksiders 2 may not do many things that are new, but as a cohesive whole, the sum of its separate parts gel wonderfully into a complete package worthy of your time.

The pre-Christmas slate has officially begun, and it has most certainly started strong. Darksiders 2 is out now in the US, and launches 21 August across Europe.

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26 Comments

  1. ejams

    Good job with the review, I (and I’m sure others) would enjoy more of these :D I wasn’t originally planning on getting this but now I just might have to take a look.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Ireland Michael

    So this is basically a review without a score. =P

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Rudderless

    A review without a score is still a review.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. ejams

    @2 – If he scored it, this would become IGN all over again and nobody wants that

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DrDamn

    A review without a score is fantastic, bravo Dave. \o/

    #5 3 years ago
  6. DSB

    Still pretty cautious with this one. A lot of reviews seem to be going with derivative.

    But yeah, good call staying off Metacritic.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Kabby

    Would you say the combat is on the same level as the original game? I found the combat in DS1 fun and meaty at first but it soon became simplistic and repetitive.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. Gadzooks!

    Agreed, more scoreless reviews please! Nice work.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Mireilles Fury.

    A review without a arbitrary number/score is the best kind of review, and more places should adopt it.

    So bravo to VG24/7 and Dave for it!

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Kabby

    Rumblings on t’webs are pointing to this being a bare bones port on PC.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. ManuOtaku

    While i do agree the review without score is a good thing, i believe that reviews need at the end of the review as a last part some sort of clasification like recomended, skipable, for rent only, buy it or a seal of approval for the worth getting games , and/or a list of the good things and the bad things.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. OrbitMonkey

    Tl:dr… Where’s the fucking score!!?

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Mireilles Fury.

    But this way you read the whole review, rather then just skimming to the end for the result, and have the information available to make your own decision on whether the product is worth your money or not.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. DSB

    I can’t say I prefer this kind of review though. I see a lot of features and “things that are in the game”, but little about how Dave feels when he plays it.

    I’m definitely more for the personal style of reviewing, not that that’s any real criticism of this one.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. OlderGamer

    Thumbs up for a scoreless review from me too.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Ireland Michael

    I like the idea, but it isn’t a particular great review.

    The writing is fine and splendid, but there is far, far too much exposition on basic gameplay designs and not enough about what is actually good or bad about the title. It feels more like reading an instruction manual.

    Just some constructive criticism.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Fin

    Good job not having a score!

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Dave Cook

    Thanks for all the feedback guys, really unexpected as we didn’t set out to create a review with this one. It was meant to be a factual blog that laid out all the game facts and features clearly – hence the lack of my own personal feelings on it.

    But seriously wow at the reaction this has caused. It’s definitely a case for me to do review in future. I’ll have to speak with Pat about how we approach reviews properly but it’s something we will have a chat about.

    Please keep the suggestions coming, they are all helpful!

    Dave :D

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Ireland Michael

    @18 In that case, a “facts and information” kind of article would be a great idea for a regular future segment.

    You could give me an idea about what kind of content, controls and features people can expect to see in whatever upcoming games you’ve managed to get your hands on, without veering too much into the whole “review” territory.

    Full blown reviews in VG247 would be… odd.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Strange Sultan

    impressive review! i like how you didn’t include review scores. scores sometime affect people’s decisions (damn IMDB). anyway, Darksiders II is a must-have for any actions rpg fan. but im still confused on what system i should get the game. PS3, xbox or PC ????!!!

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Ireland Michael

    @18 P.S. I expect 10% in royalties on all future content created using this idea.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Edo

    Score or GTFO…nah just kiddin’ Dave :D .

    #22 3 years ago
  23. DSB

    I think Metacritic is due for a boycott. The system isn’t fair to either reviewers, games or publishers, so that should really be a big fat nono.

    Anything beyond that is gonna be subjective. The important thing to me is clean cut critique, and the personal touch.

    I think it’s awkward when reviewers list a bunch of flaws, and then proceed to excuse them in the very same sentence. Either something is worth mentioning or it isn’t, but don’t mention something, and then say it’s irrelevant.

    I also feel like the connection gets cut, when reviewers try to tell me what I might think of a game, guessing at how it will be recieved by most of the gaming public, rather than telling me what they thought of it themselves.

    A personal opinion is always going to be worth more than a qualified guess, and as a writer, it gives people the chance to know you, and follow your train of thought. It’s not like you’re ever going to please 10,000 readers, the best you can do is be honest with them.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. Sublimeone

    No disrespect – But how can you review this GAME, and link the similarities to just Zelda & God of War and IGNORE the major similarities to Prince of Persia (2008) wall running, jumping …. oh yeah.. not to forget the “CORRUPTION” Story line – at the beginning of the game like that of POP. Come on seriously Virgil. I know nothing is new under the sun, but jeez. Show some creativity.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. Phoenixblight

    @24

    Its Vigil not the character from DMC. ALso the corruption part of the game is the very beginning its not throughout the entire game.

    I enjoy the game immensely and its far better than all of the Prince of Persia series put together.

    #25 3 years ago
  26. Sublimeone

    @ Phoenixblight

    You could have forgiven me – for the mistake-inclusion of the *r. I did mention that it was only the beginning. I have played it, I know the corruption story phases out. My issue was once I started playing, I was like – I have played this game before (light bulb!!!) – I have loved Prince of Persia since the first and even have all the titles on PC/Console. I just felt it was rather too familiar from the get go.

    Don’t get me wrong it is a good game, in my view only a slight step above its predecessor – some things done better here and there, while some other things not so much. .

    Examples
    - The story here, unimpressive. I mean in Darksiders 1, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who liked the side characters – The Watcher Aside (Even with the limited cast). Here, I dont feel the need to root for any body at all, including Death himself.

    In short for me: +ve(s) < -ve(s)

    #26 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]

  • Kojima Station show suspended

    In another episode in the the ongoing kerfuffle between Hideo Kojima and Konami, the publisher has suspended the Kojima Station web show. Recent tweets from the newly created Japanese Metal Gear Solid account confirm that Kojima Station will not be broadcast tomorrow, but would not provide a date for the next episode. The Tweets were […]

  • Watch Battle Royale for free this weekend on Xbox Live

    Square Enix is celebrating the launch of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD by offering Xbox Live members in the UK a free rental of Battle Royale. Starting Saturday, March 28 and through Sunday, March 29, Xbox Live members in the UK will be able to rent Battle Royale through the Xbox Video Store, for free. The […]

  • Bloodborne journal, part 1: managing anxiety on the path to the Cleric Beast

    Bloodborne is both like and unlike the Souls games. Brenna descends into Yharnam with reluctance and trepidation. Need help succeeding in Bloodborne? You need our Bloodborne walkthrough and boss guide. Bloodborne isn’t Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls. Let’s get that out of the way right off. I enjoyed both Dark Souls games, but it was […]

  • PS Store Easter sale discounts MGS: Ground Zeroes, Far Cry 4, more

    The Easter Sale is live on the EU PS Store, with Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes for less than £10, FIFA 15 Deluxe Edition for £30 and other savings. Some of the PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita discounts are valid through April 8, other through April 15. PlayStation Plus members can also take an […]

  • Bloodborne video: how to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam

    Here’s a video for Bloodborne players showing a quick way to unlock the first shortcut in Old Yharnam. It also provides a look at things you may have missed in Central Yharnam and The Sewers, courtesy of VaatiVidya. Don’t forget, we have guides posted for the game with more updates coming soon. Bloodborne released in […]

  • Bloodborne issue prevents summons at Vicar Amelia fight

    A Bloodborne bug has prevented players calling on help to take on one of the nasty early bosses. Bloodborne bosses are significantly easier to take down in co-op. Unfortunately, at least one of them is proving difficult to find help for – and not just because not many players have obtained the Small Resonant Bell […]

  • Mass Effect 3 on sale on EU PSN, but not free

    Mass Effect 3 is discounted on the European PSN, but it’s not free. Update 2: The option to add to cart now lets you choose between the free trial or full version. The full version is on sale for £6.49 or £5.84 for PlayStation Plus members. The free trial is of course is still available, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous Race to Elite winners announced, one player makes £10,000

    The winners of Elite: Dangerous’ Race To Elite competition have been announced, with one player receiving the grand prize of £10,000. Back when Elite: Dangerous launched, developer Frontier announced a competition that would award players to first reach Elite rank in trading, exploration, or combat, a prize of £1,000 each. The grand prize – £10,000 […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: How to make the most money with Special Bonuses and Elite Challenges

    You’re not hitting heists for the good of your health. Here’s how to max cash rewards. Money. GTA Online players love it. Greenbacks are the core of the entire experience, allowing you to buy the best weapons, vehicles and stupid haircuts. Heists, as promised, gives more opportunities than ever to earn serious cash, but once […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 coming tomorrow

    PlayStation 4 firmware 2.50, codenamed Yukimura, is due for release tomorrow, March 26. Firmware update 2.50 for PlayStation 4 will be launching tomorrow, March 26, Sony has announced. Codenamed Yukimura, the system update is promised to bring suspend/resume feature, trophy sync improvements, accessibility options, and much more. 2.50 has been in beta testing a while […]

  • GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges and more

    Heists aren’t the only addition in GTA Online’s latest DLC – there’s a lot of content that can earn you big RP and cash payouts. GTA 5 Online Heists guide: adversary modes, daily objectives, free roam challenges While heists are the talking point and big payoff after more than a year of waiting, there’s a […]

  • Battlefield Hardline: what’s the best Police sniper rifle?

    What’s the best bolt-action, Police sniper rifle for the Professional class in Battlefield Hardline? Let us help you answer that question. As you’re probably aware, Battlefield Hardline weapons are class specific and faction specific. This makes deciding on a good weapon and loadout much harder than it was in Battlefield 4. Which is where Westie […]

  • Evolve 1.3 patch nerfs Wraith, adjusts Kraken

    Evolve is receiving a new patch that aims to put an end to the Wraith’s dominance. Evolve developer Turtle Rock outlined a few of the changes coming in patch 1.3. The patch brings balance changes to the monsters – mainly the Wraith – as well as other various changes to Hunters’ tools based on player […]

  • Bloodborne: watch the opening 40 minutes

    The opening minutes of Bloodborne really do set the stage for what’s to come. They’ll also help you decide if this game is for you. Arekkz Gaming has captured the first 40 minutes of Bloodborne. Complete with the opening cutscene, and the first few obstacles you’ll face. The video is commentary free, so wear headphones […]

  • YouTube will relaunch livestreaming service with focus on eSports and gaming – report

    According to industry sources, Google is preparing to relaunch YouTube’s livestreaming service with a focus on eSports and gaming. According to anonymous sources speaking to TheDailyDot, Google is planning to bring back YouTube’s livestreaming service. The company is said to have started recruiting around 50 engineers with experience in the field, “a pretty big statement […]

  • I think I’m too old for Final Fantasy 15

    Final Fantasy 15 was nine years in the making – and counting. Are we the same people we were in 2006? Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae A demo available for PS4 and Xbox One. Offers a couple of hours of gameplay. More if you jump over the borders. Bundled with Final Fantasy 15 Type-0 and […]

  • New multiplayer mode for Splatoon announced

    Nintendo has sent over three screenshots for Splatoon along with information on the Wii U another of the title’s multiplayer modes. Called Ranked Battle, it keeps track of each player’s online ranking. Splat Zones is one of the additional ways to play online in this mode. It differs from Turf War, which is the main […]

  • 2015 WoW Arena World Championship has a $250,000 prize pool

    Blizzard has announced the WoW Arena World Championship will culminate at BlizzCon 2015. World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams from around the globe will compete for spot at the 2015 WoW Arena World Championship and for a share in the $250,000 prize pool. Online qualifiers will be held for North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New […]

  • The Crew two-hour demo now available in US, tomorrow in the UK

    Ubisoft has announced a free trial of its driving MMO The Crew will be available tomorrow, March 25 in the UK. It’s live today in North America. For current players, the Vintage Car Pack and Vintage Live Update, including a new PvP mode, are now available. The Vintage Car Pack included the Chevrolet Corvette C2 […]

  • Minecraft Mass Effect Mash-Up and Pattern Texture Pack out from today

    A Mass Effect Mash-up pack and the Pattern Texture Pack will release on PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita today in North America and tomorrow in Europe. The Pattern Texture Pack is also available for Xbox consoles today. The Mass Effect Mash-Up pack contains the Mars Facility from Mass Effect 3 plus textures and craftable items […]

  • The Talos Principle expansion pack Road to Gehenna announced

    An expansion for The Talos Principle has been announced titled Road to Gehenna. The expansion follows the narrative of Uriel, Elohim’s messenger, as he explores a “strange, hidden part of the simulation” on a mission of “mercy and redemption.” Uriel is attempting to free the souls of the damned “at all costs.” Road to Gehenna […]

  • Twitch Plays Pokemon finally catches ‘em all – even the rare Mewtwo

    Twitch Plays Pokemon players have captured all 151 original Pokemon which were included in a modified version of Pokemon Red, and this includes the rare Mewtwo. It took 39 days for Twitch players to catch ‘em all. Have a look at the impressive feat for yourself below. Thanks, Polygon.