Vigil Games prepares the world for second horseman of the apocalypse with Darksiders II. The month of August will ride into the second half of the year with the grim reaper himself, Death. The sequel expands upon a combined story of multiple mythologies and eliminates the majority of the games previous frustrations.
Darksiders II is a parallel timeline, played out during the imprisonment of War. In Darksiders I, War fought to clear his name on post-apocalyptic Earth, but Death works to aid his brother in proving his innocence. To grant War’s freedom from their bosses, the Charred Council, Death plans to uplift humanity from their grim fate, but Death finds problems of his own in worlds he barley knows.
A pleasant surprise is the further expansion of the Darksiders universe. Most sequels minimally expand the already created universe, but the sequel almost doubles its size and scope. Darksiders II also included dialogue choices with many characters throughout the game, allowing a deeper connection to further the universe if you choose.
Death prefers speed and agility instead his brother’s strength and power. He moves fluidly through platforming environments, eliminating any frustrations from the clunky parts in the previous game. Death has an Assassin’s Creed simplicity when it comes to traversing through the world. And the world is wide open with numerous side quests. The level design is also challenging and entertaining with new puzzles and boss battles that have Death looking up high at his enemies.
The mature-rated Legend of Zelda, Darksiders II creates numerous quests, dungeons and bosses to help Death save the princess brother from peril. Just as the first game seemed to be a mix of LoZ: Ocarina of Time and God of War, Darksiders II embraced an extra genre: RPGs.
The RPG elements of the game have expanded with detailed inventory and power abilities. Inventory is brand new to the series. Killed enemies now drop the occasional weapons and armor for Death. The overall feel fits Diablo-like RPGs. Just walking over the item gives brief info on it with a simple stat informing whether it is better or worse than the current equipped item. The unused items cannot only be sold, but used to feed your favorite possessed weapon, leveling it up to stay in Death’s grip longer.
Inventory is brand new to the series. Killed enemies now drop the occasional weapons and armor for Death. The overall feel fits a dungeon RPG, but with less stat crunching required. Just walking over the item gives brief info on it with a simple stat informing whether it is better or worse than the current equipped item. The problem is the simple stat is not everything. The comparison is mostly limited to damage or defense not in the unique abilities, making you still pause the game for a complete comparison. The inventory system also seems to mask that the three dungeon weapons from the first game are three out of the four weapons given in the sequel.
Each time death gains a new level a skill point is earned. Each point can be used to unlock or upgrade abilities in two skill trees. The trees are divided into AOE-style attacks, upgraded defense or summoning abilities. Each one can also be upgraded adding extra powers or more damage or duration.
The overall look still maintains their graphic novel animation, but it received a much needed update from the original and it looks glorious. The heads up display also received some tweaking, revealing a more inventory-friendly HUD. Items like wrath and health potions are shown under the health bar. It keeps the action going with simple one touch quick heals or potions.
Vigil Games fixed plenty of minor issues by adding small, but vital, elements to the sequel like fast traveling. Finally the world map has a purpose and actually adds a better sense of scope to the game. You can fast travel to pinpointed places even from dungeons, which is much improved from eight different parts from the entire first game. Another aid is Death’s competent companion: Dust, his crow. Dust guides with helpful, yet subtle, hints as to the next goal or chest to reach. When Death is stuck or lost, he can call upon Dust to find the next room. While progresses forward it removes the frustration of just being lost and wasting time, leaving only the puzzle to test the mind.
The main problem is the game drags on too long. They change the gameplay up from place to place, but Death becomes an errand boy from one customer to the next. By the end of the game I wanted to become Death, grab my next customer and beat wanted I needed out, not earn it. Instead I was left with one three-item-retrieval quest after another. And yes, it is three items every time. As entertaining as the game is with different styles of gameplay to prevent any repetition, the story is one retrieve quest after another.
After being fully satisfied with a 20+ hour campaign, excluding side quests, Darksiders II offers a game plus to achieve multiple playthroughs. After completing the game, it also allows a challenge mode, with endless waves of enemies. Whether you’re a fan of the first one or just looking for the next game this was a solid form of entertainment.