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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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    Sony Pictures Entertainment, 2K and Turtle Rock Studios have announced a tournament being hosted by ESL, which will see Evolve players take on newest movie robot, Chappie. The ESL has teamed up with Twitch for the live 4 on 1 competitive event, and you can watch as it all unfolds tomorrow, March 1 at 3pm […]

  • If you’re attending PAX East, stop and have a look at Necropolis

    We haven’t heard much on Harebrained Schemes’ latest since it was announced in November, but today, the team has seen fit to release some interesting gifs of its a new project, Necropolis. Necropolis is a third-person action rogue-like with procedurally generated which can be “re-rolled mid-playthrough” and is headed to Linux, Mac and PC sometime […]

  • Dragon’s Dogma Online really is lovely, as these screenshots prove

    More Dragon’s Dogma Online screenshots have been released, and this batch is just as lovely as the last gallery we posted. Since this game will likely never leave Japan, the images are a bit of a salt rub for fans of the IP, but hopefully another entry in the series will be released at some […]

  • Action-RPG Death’s Gambit has a classic-Castlevania feel to it

    How would you like to become an agent of Death and rid the world of immortals? Then Death’s Gambit may just be the game for you. Announced by LA-based studio White Rabbit, the action-RPG with platforming elements tasks players with fighting gigantic enemies on an alien, medieval planet. Players will also encounter formidable beasts, knights, […]

  • Modder adds offline co-op into Resident Evil: Revelations 2

    PC users lamenting the lack of local, offline co-op in Resident Evil: Revelations 2 will be pleased to know a modder has remedied the omission. The mod, created by FluffyQuack, adds offline co-op mode to Episode 1 but the only caveat is players will need to use gamepads instead of mouse and keyboard (via Gamespot). […]

  • Number of Steam accounts with Dota 2 installed hits over 42 million

    Dota 2 has seen its installation rate jump 85% year-over-year, resulting in the MOBA now having close to 43 million installations worldwide. The figures were published via a report from video game research and consulting firm EEDAR, which studied Steam accounts daily to better understand the service’s player behavior and title performance. According to statistics […]

  • Nintendo issuing Eon Ticket codes for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire

    Nintendo is handing out an Eon Ticket to Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire owners which will allow them to visit the Southern Island. Once a player arrives, depending on which version of the game they own, Pokemon Latios and Latias are able to be caught. The Eon Ticket was originally issued via StreetPass, but […]

  • Here’s a couple The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt screenshots to brighten your day

    Two images for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have surfaced on the game’s Facebook page. Grabbed by Gamekyo, the images show Gerlat and Vesemir chatting with a fellow, and the other shows Geralt riding up to some ruins where some people have been hanged. CD Projekt Red will make an appearance at PAX East next […]

  • Hyrule Warriors Boss Pack DLC contains unlockable character – potential spoilers

    While you already know the next DLC for Hyrule Warriors will allow you to play as the gigantic beast Ganon, there’s a rather humorous unlockable character contained in it as well. Potential spoilers follow below. When the DLC arrived in Japan February 26, YouTuber moccos-tan IsedelicaAs posted a video of the unlockable character, which is […]

  • Star Trek Online players gather on Vulcan to pay respects to Leonard Nimoy

    Star Trek Online players paid tribute to Leonard Nimoy yesterday by gathering around a fountain on Vulcan, the home planet of Spock in the Star Trek series. According to a post by barnacle999 on reddit, when he logged into the MMO “there were around 20 full instances and several partial,” culminating in around 1000 players […]

  • Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin gameplay video shows invasion of The Forlorn

    A new Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin gameplay video has been released, and provides the viewer with a look at the NPC invader system. Watch below as The Forlorn hunts down the player through the game with “with deadly skill and tenacity.” He even teams up with other enemies, making your fight […]

  • Visual upgrade for Wasteland 2, improved modding tools in the works

    A visual upgrade and improved mod tools are in the works for Wasteland 2, according to a blog post from inXile Entertainment. The upgrades will come about as the game’s codebase is migrated from Unity 4.5 to Unity 5. “A major benefit of moving to Unity 5 is that 5 will include many of the […]

  • Battlefield Hardline brings “Hollywood crime drama” to single-player campaign

    In the fifth developer diary for Battlefield Hardline, the team discusses how it’s bringing “Hollywood crime drama” to the shooter’s single-player campaign. The video was released a couple of days ago, so apologies are in order if this has been posted already, but I promise I searched the site and never found it. Visceral Games […]

  • Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a pause for tactics isometric RPG coming in 2016

    Masquerada: Songs and Shadows is a 2.5D isometric RPG, built in the vein of Baldur’s Gate and Dragon Age in the works at Withing Hour Studios. The game allows the player to pause combat to plan party tactics. “Set in the Venetian-inspired fantasy city of Ombre where rare masks are the key to casting magic, […]

  • Underworld Ascendant surpasses Kickstarter goal

    Underworld Ascendant which was launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, has met its  $600,000 funding goal. With six days left 10,786 backers pledged $610,541 In light of being funded, the team has also switched up the stretch goals as bit, as you can see in the image below. The studio, OtherSide Entertainment, is fronted by Paul Neurath, […]

  • Latest Evolve patch fixes progress and save game data loss on Xbox One

    A patch for Evolve has been released on Xbox One which fixes lost progress and save game data users had reported. The patch also fixes an issue with shadows and flashlight, makes incremental improvements to matchmaking, invites, and rejoining, and there were progressions balance changes. “The issue with lost progress and saved games was mostly […]

  • Online servers for Ridge Racer Unbounded shut down in Europe

    Online functionality for Ridge Racer Unbounded is no longer available, Namco Bandai Europe has announced. Solo mode and the track editor are still playable, minus the sharing options. Ridge Racer Unbounded was released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March 2013. Thanks, MCV.

  • OlliOlli will be a cross-buy title on 3DS and Wii U

    Curve Digital has announced OlliOlli will be a cross-buy title when it releases on 3DS and Wii U. The Roll7 title will be the first third-party title to offer the functionality on the systems. OllliOlli will be released on the eShop March 5 The game launches on Nintendo’s eShop on March 5th, followed by Xbox […]

  • Darkbeast electrifies latest Bloodborne video

    The latest Bloodborne video shows off another monster in the game. This one is Darkbeast and he’s full of electricity. The video is the last of IGN’s month-long coverage of the title.

  • Future Assassin’s Creed games will have greater focus on modern timeline

    Ubisoft plans to focus more on modern timelines in future Assassin’s Creed games, the company suggested during its latest community livestream. During the Twitch stream, one of the lead writers for the Assassin’s Creed series, Darby McDevitt, said the modern timeline for Brotherhood’s town of Monteriggioni could inspire future development. “That only came about because […]

  • Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is coming to Xbox One next month

    Halfbrick has announced Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 for Xbox One will release next month. The mobile title made its way onto Xbox 360 garnering 1 million downloads as of March 2012. It has a new multiplayer mode for up to four players with Battle and Party modes along with a new progression system. An announcement […]

  • New GTA 5 PC screens – shit the bed!

    Rockstar has pumped out 15 new screens for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto 5. Don’t touch them, because they’re electric. And if you touch them, you’ll get shocked. The PC version of GTA 5 has been delayed until April 14, which both sucks and blows. BUT! There’s a new trailer coming between now […]

  • Sony Japan accidentally erases 20th Anniversary PS4 contest entries

    Sony Japan has accidentally erased all information obtained from PlayStation owners who entered to win a 20th Anniversary PlayStation 4. Those who purchased PlayStation 3, PS4, Vita or Vita TV between December 4 – January 15 were handed a calendar with a code which entered them into the contest. Somehow, all data collected from the […]

  • Hearthstone datamine suggests Blackrock Mountain expansion on the way

    Hearthstone’s next update may be based on World of Warcraft’s Molten Core raid, if datamined information posted on Hearthpwn is spot-on. According to files mined from the latest patch, three new cosmetic card backs are on the way, one of which is called Molten Core. The data suggests that pre-ordering the Blackrock Mountain expansion will […]

  • Using Battlefield Hardline single-player gadgets increases your metagame rewards

    Gadgets contained in Battlefield Hardline’s campaign mode have been detailed, and each provides the player with various ways in which to solve crimes. According to design director Scott Warner, one way to “diffuse” a conflict when confronted with criminal activity is to flash your badge and ordering the criminal to freeze. Putting your gun on […]

  • Mortal Kombat X video is all about story mode, new characters

    After promising a new Mortal Kombat X reveal “soon”, NetherRealm Studios has made good on said promise by releasing the story trailer. The video shows parts of the story mode featuring Mileena, which takes place 25 years after the events of 2011′s Mortal Kombat. Outworld has become a larger threat and new fighters joining the […]

  • Destiny’s shotgun and pulse rifle buffs mean it’s time to rethink your load-out

    Destiny’s most-ignored weapons got major boosts this week. It’s time to start thinking about how to work them into your set-up. Even if you’re used to using scout rifles and sniper rifles as a general loud-out (neither class was touched by 1.1.1), the buffs to pulse rifles and shotguns should make you rethink your contextual […]

  • Battlefield Bad Company 2: five years later, what did it do so right?

    It’s been five years since the release of Battlefield Bad Company 2. What did the much-loved entry in the franchise do for the Battlefield series? Westie’s played Battlefield Bad Company 2 for over 1,260 hours on PS3 and PC. That’s dedication. In his latest video he discusses the stand out moments from a FPS classic, […]

  • War is hell in this Zombie Army Trilogy gameplay trailer

    Here’s five minutes of headshots, shambling zombies and an undead Hitler from Rebellion’s upcoming Zombie Army Trilogy. The Sniper Elite spin-off arrives on PS4, PC and Xbox One March 6 and includes three games (obviously) and a new Horde mode.

  • Titan Souls releases on PS4, Vita, PC on April 14

    Ace indie giant-slayer Titan Souls will be released on PS4, Vita and PC on April 14. Publisher Devolver confirmed the date to Eurogamer. Those of us in Europe will have to wait until a day later for release. Titan Souls is a tough-as-nails indie game where you have one life to slay a giant enemy. […]

  • Destiny weekly update: lowdown on Inferno Crucible, Vault Transfer improvements

    Destiny’s weekly update has made some pretty significant changes – let Arekkz Gaming take you through them. Bungie has revealed the first release date for the new Inferno Crucible mode, and made it a lot easier to access your vault. You should subscribe to Arekkz Gaming. It will improve your life.

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory Feb 27, 28

    It’s Xursday again – what treats does he have for you this week? He’s in the North Tower, to the right of the Stranger’s room. Let’s take a look at the latest weapons and gear from your favourite Destiny trader. No Backup Plans [Titan Gauntlets] – 13SC ATS/8 Arachnid [Hunter Helmet] – 13SC Heart of […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will be stable on PC at launch, Visceral assures

    PC format is “by far the best gaming platform around,” says Hardline producer. “We’re doing what we can to take advantage of people’s different system with the graphics, framerate, controls, etc. We’re not just porting it over.” Battlefield Hardline developer Visceral is reassuring players that there will not be a repeat of the disastrous Battlefield […]

  • Win Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One

    We have 10 download codes for new indie puzzler Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One to give away. The be in with a chance of winning a code, just enter your details below and we’ll pull the winners from the hat on Monday March 2nd, after 2pm GMT. Pneuma: Breath of Life is a […]

  • Life is Strange Episode 2 delayed

    Life is Strange Episode 2 won’t make its expected release date. The first Life is Strange episode released on January 30, and we had expected the second to follow on March 13. Square Enix has since confirmed to Destructoid that the next chapter won’t make its release date. There’s been no word of the new […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: which character will be revealed tomorrow?

    Mortal Kombat X director Ed Boon is teasing a new character reveal. During today’s Mortal Kombat X livestream, NetherRealm said that a new character would be revealed “very soon”. Boon followed up with this teasing tweet suggesting the reveal will occur tomorrow: Very soon? As in tomorrow? :/ — Ed Boon (@noobde) February 26, 2015 […]

  • Halo played by Twitch is an exercise in great patience

    TwitchPlaysHalo is ridiculous. Halo: Combat Evolved is the latest game to be sucked into the “TwitchPlays” phenomenon, and the results are somewhat painful to spectate. If you’re not familiar with the setup, which debuted with TwitchPlaysPokemon, the game accepts commands from the channels’ chat stream. Although it doesn’t have the strategic RPG elements of Pokemon, […]

  • Gold Amiibo sold out, selling at five times RRP on auction sites

    Gold Mario Amiibo are expected to sell for pretty astounding profits on eBay and other auction sites. The Walmart-exclusive Gold Mario Amiibo is already completely sold out. Plenty of people managed to snaffle them to resell, though. There are now dozens of listings on eBay and other auction sites. One of the average asking prices […]

  • Canadian new game prices jump to $75

    Canadian gamers are in for an unpleasant price hike. As spotted by HardcoreGamer, the local Canadian branches of Amazon and EB Games have raised the prices of upcoming games to CAD$75. The CAD$5 increasing comes within a year of prices hitting the CAD$70 point. CAD$75 (£38/€53) currently exchanges for $60, the standard US pricing. The […]