by Chris Davis
previewed on PC
Two years ago developer Vigil Games released the first Darksiders, a new intellectual property set long after a premature Armageddon has occurred and humanity has died out. The game followed War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as he tried to clear his name for allegedly beginning the war for Earth before humanity could prepare itself. Warís journey for retribution and answers was a fantastic experience that challenged the likes of God of War and The Legend of Zelda with a wonderful visual style and a story that was well worth being told. It was one of the surprise hits of 2010.
This year, after much ado about a definitive release date and publisher woes, will see the release of the 2010 hitís sequel. Darksiders II, more a side story than a true sequel, shows quite a bit of promise and its new protagonist looks to be an even fiercer character than War: Death, personified, has come and he has a proposition.
The Legend of Death
Taking place alongside the story of the original game, Darksiders II follows the exploits of Death, who is convinced that War didnít commit the crime he is accused of. Death rides into the world against the wishes of the Charred Council to uncover the conspiracy behind the end of the world and restore the balance between Heaven and Hell, in the process giving life to humanity once more. The most feared of the Horsemen, Death embarks not to Earth but rather to the Nether Realms, a world beyond ours that serves as the primary stomping grounds for most of the game.
As was stated before and has been mentioned thousands of times about the previous game, the Darksiders series, more than any other would-be comparison that could be made, is very much a Western interpretation of the classic Legend of Zelda series. Going into Darksiders II this comparison couldnít be any more apt as, in addition to retaining the classic hub world and dungeon formula that made Nintendoís franchise so popular, players will find that they are not alone on their journey. Much like the companion characters of the fairies, Midna and Fi, Death is joined by a creature known as Dust. Taking the form of a crow, Dust flies around the environment and highlights important areas and objects the player could use or needs to explore in order to progress. Thankfully, Dust is a silent character and does not go out of the way to annoy the player like certain other partner creatures.
This comparison also extends to the hub world itself. Players will be able to enter towns where they can sell and purchase as well as unlock new abilities for Death, something that wasnít possible in the previous game. The NPCs that inhabit these towns will also be able to give the player side quests to complete in the world. Vigil and THQ have yet to provide information on the constitution of these side quests but one can hazard a guess that they are made up of fetch quests, kill count missions and perhaps core-narrative-related goals that aid in the story. This should provide a substantial amount of extended playtime to the game and if Darksidersí 15-20 hour story is the bar for Darksiders II we may well see playtimes well upwards of 25 or so hours total. Quotes from Vigilís development team members suggest the game will offer rewards for a second playthrough, adding that Deathís full skill list cannot be unlocked in a single game.
Vigil has also decided to introduce some strong RPG elements into the game. In the process of customizing their Death, players will be able to specialize their character in any combination of the four skill trees in the game, those being defense, arcane, strength and agility. Equipped items in the game also have a visual distinction as players can dress Death up in any combination of boots, armor, gloves etc. as the player chooses. Players also have a set inventory space so, once you are full up on loot, you can either sell it back at towns or feed them to ďpossessedĒ weapons which in turn upgrade them.