According to biblical end-times prophecies – or at least, to Darksiders’ stylized version of them – there’s an uneasy truce that exists between Heaven and Hell, and all that’s keeping it in place are the legendary Seven Seals. When those are broken – something that’s only supposed to happen once mankind has advanced far enough to survive a war between the two sides – all of creation will erupt in the Endwar, an apocalyptic battle between angels and demons to decide the fate of the cosmos. As Darksiders opens, that battle has already begun… far, far earlier than it was supposed to.
Fast-forward to a hundred years later, and it’s pretty clear something went wrong. Hell won, humanity is extinct and all that’s left of Earth is a blasted cinder populated by zombies, demons and a few handfuls of surviving angels. With the balance of power disrupted, blame for the catastrophe falls on the impossibly burly shoulders of War, the only one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to ride during the chaos. To clear his name, he volunteers to trudge out into the ruins of New York, find those responsible and slaughter them all.
Steal from the best
To say that Darksiders isn’t the most original game is a gross understatement. While its ruined world and masterful art direction (by comic artist Joe Madureira) feel fresh, Darksiders is, by and large, an amalgamation of cool elements swiped from other games. But that’s not a bad thing; from the beginning, its developers have proudly pointed out that Darksiders cherry-picks some of the best things from some of the best games around.
Above: Like this horse, for example
Most notably, it borrows a lot from the Zelda games, using the series’ rich history of more-or-less open-world exploration, gadget-assisted puzzles and themed dungeons as a template for its own beautifully devastated world. Meanwhile, its fast, combo-heavy, somewhat gruesome combat – along with a few other choice elements – comes straight out of God of War and Devil May Cry.
It doesn’t end there, so rather than simply bore you with a long description of the things Darksiders lifts from other games, we’ll simply show you some of them:
Somewhat grating spectral “helper”
Boomerang that can target multiple enemies and also catch on fire
Awesome horse that can be summoned almost anywhere outdoors
Slightly gimmicky puzzle bosses
FROM DEVIL MAY CRY AND GOD OF WAR:
Aerial juggle combos
Special moves you can buy
Bringing a gun to a swordfight
Multicolored, multipurpose orbs
One-button fatality prompts
Linked portals (duh)
Above: Don’t get too excited – you get the “Voidwalker” item very late in the game, and it only works on special surfaces. But it does enable you to create high-speed exit portals, which is kind of awesome
FROM PANZER DRAGOON
On-rails shooter segment
FROM LEGACY OF KAIN: SOUL REAVER
So yes, if originality is of paramount importance to you, this probably isn’t your game. But more important than where those diverse elements came from is how well they mesh together, and in Darksiders, they mesh together pretty well… most of the time.