Darksiders isn’t without standout characters, either; in addition to severe, humorless War and his intentionally loathsome, hint-providing sidekick, the Watcher (voiced by Mark Hamill in full Joker mode), there’s the creepy (but oddly charming) demon merchant Vulgrim and the misguided Uriel, leader of the remaining angels on Earth (who all blame you for the apocalypse, by the way, and will try to kill you on sight).
There’s also the demon Samael, a monstrous rival to the Destroyer (Darksiders’ central villain) who sends you on the game’s central quest: track the Destroyer’s lieutenants to their lairs, kill them and return their hearts to Samael so that he can regain his formidable powers (and then probably be a threat to you in the future).
And then, in the midst of all this deadly seriousness, there’s Ulthane, a gorilla-looking blacksmith who speaks with a thick Scottish accent and fits in with the cast of angels and demons about as well as a Muppet would with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He’s the most obvious Madureira creation in the game, and as a result he kind of sticks out like a massively stocky sore thumb.
Above: Yes, really
But at least he meshes with the world a little more smoothly than the top-hat-wearing, posh-accented zombie who occasionally pops up in secret caves to beat you with his cane before vanishing mysteriously.
Even at its most bizarre, and even at its most tedious, Darksiders is a lot of fun to plow through. And if the ending is to be believed, we can expect at least a couple of sequels out of Darksiders’ post-apocalyptic setting. We’re already looking forward to finding out what happens next.
Bayonetta? Depends. Are you in the mood for a Zelda-inspired, exploration-centric adventure with a bunch of cool gadgets, collectibles and slightly gimmicky puzzles to back up its stylish combat? Then Darksiders is the better choice. However, Bayonetta’s a lot cooler to look at, and its combat is faster, more over-the-top and a lot more entertaining, so it wins out as a pure action experience.
Okami? No. Darksiders’ ruined world is a compelling place to explore, but its pretty ruins don’t hold a candle to Okami’s lively, colorful environments (and you also won’t get the satisfaction of bringing the devastated Earth back to normal, which you will in Okami). Darksider’s combat relies a little too heavily on repetitive finishers, while Okami’s is endlessly inventive. In summation: yes, we know we nag you about it a lot, but you should really play Okami if you haven’t already.
Brutal Legend? Depends. While they’re both Zelda-inspired games set in post-apocalyptic worlds, Darksiders doesn’t have Brutal Legend’s awesome soundtrack, charming characters or heavy-metal aesthetic. But it also doesn’t have Brutal Legend’s clunky RTS sequences, and that’s a huge mark in its favor. Brutal Legend wins from a storytelling and aesthetic standpoint, but if we’re talking pure gameplay, Darksiders has this one sewn up.
In spite of lifting nearly every gameplay element from other, often better games, Darksiders still succeeds at bringing these disparate threads together into a brutally satisfying whole. It’s also a blast to explore even at its low points, and if the idea of a Zelda with a more “mature” bent and better combat catches your interest, you’ll want to check this out.
Jan 5, 2010