- May 27, 2013
So, I beat Darksiders 2 not too long ago, including all of the DLC, and I've been brooding on my thoughts about the game. So I just though I'd put them here and see what you guys and gals think. I might consider doing more of these, as I've been playing through quite a large backlog this past years and I love talking about games. So, here we go!
First some short thoughts on:
Now I really enjoyed the first Darksiders, in fact it was probably one of my favorite games of the last generation. It was epic in terms of story, War was a great dark character and the game really felt like a tight, complete package. It never dragged for me, it had a good balance of puzzles, combat and collectibles and the game has a vast array of interesting characters.
It felt like a more adult, epic version of a Zelda game. The world was varied and interesting, the game made good use of it's various powers to keep you exploring the world and the combat, although simple, was effective and fun, really making me feel like a powerhouse later on in the game.
Although Darksiders 1 was, generally speaking, a simple game, in terms of gameplay mechanics, combat, collectibles and story, it felt tight and complete. It kept me interesting, it continuously rewarded me for playing and presented me with clear goals. Here's a giant freaking tower with a giant evil bastard inside, now find a way up there and kick his ass and save the world! And once you do beat the game, it peaks in terms of excitement:
With Darksiders 2, I'm left feeling quite disappointed, and I have to admit that I got really, really tired of the game after a while. Darksiders 2 started to feel like a game that I desperately wanted to end, only to find out that I had to go through like six more immense dungeons, even though I thoroughly enjoyed many elements of the game.
What I really liked about the game was the overall world. It's absolutely beautiful to look at, it has plenty of varied levels and traversing said world with Despair was a lot of fun. Besides this I also enjoyed the design and variety of the enemies, the cool looking weapons, the fun platforming sections and the soundtrack.
Playing as Death was incredibly satisfying and his character is pretty fun (although not nearly as interesting and fleshed out a War). When the good elements of the game come together, especially early in the game, you feel like a total badass; riding your flaming horse, beating down monsters and baddies with big weapons and taking down enormous bosses
(like the one at the end of the first world)
So when you're doing stuff like this, the game works for me:
(this is from later in the game, but I think you get what I mean)
After playing the game for many, many more hours however, I started to get incredibly tired of the game and especially the dungeons. Maybe I'm just remembering it wrong, but it felt like more than half of the dungeons consisted of one path, branching out into three new paths and one closed path, simply requiring you to go through these three open paths to find some items, open the closed path and defeat a boss. At first I didn't mind it too much, but after a while it started to feel way too formulaic and repetitive. The puzzles weren't all that difficult, with lots of them being sort of copy-pasted throughout many of the dungeons (with small variations) and being very similar to Darksiders 1 and, I don't know, it just started to drag after a while.
Darksiders 2 constantly tries to make you feel like the game is moving towards something epic, like at some point we're going to see the game make this clear point and set this clear goal, as to what you are trying to accomplish and what we as the player are supposed to be excited about. But that moment just never came. After so many hours I got extremely frustrated, because every time I thought "Okay now something cool is going to happen" the game just slaps you in the face with another hour or two of (sometimes just generic feeling) dungeons and more fetch quests with vague and meaningless endings. The story is boring, meaningless and left me with a feeling of "what in the hell did I really do in these 42 hours?". It never really peaks, it just sort of "is there" to keep you going to more dungeons.
Besides this I did not enjoy some the combat sections all that much. With the first Darksiders, combat felt tactical. The game gave you just a few enemies at the same time and required you to make good use of the combo's, blocking and counters to defeat them. With Darksiders 2 however, the game throws a sometimes seemingly endless amount of enemies at you at the same time, especially later in the game, wanting you to constantly be on the move and on the attack. This started to become overwhelming after a while since you cannot block and enemies can seriously hurt you while you are in the middle of a combo. Most of the time, combat just felt like absolute chaos, where I could barely see where I was and what combo I was performing because these section were just crawling with enemies, causing me to often resort to button mashing, and the fact that Death's attacks are full of fast movements, particle effects and bright colors didn't help much either.
The combat system works at first, but as the game got harder and harder I felt like I was more often relying on and abusing the special moves rather than actually enjoying and using the combo system. During some of the combat waves I felt too weak and too fragile and the chaos form felt way too weak and short as well.
Leveling was also just underwhelming. When you look at the entire leveling tree, in actuality there's only eight powers you gain, with many of them just having lots of small upgrades. Many of these powers just weren't that satisfying to use because most of the time it felt like they were only there to help you distract the many waves of enemies. With most of them I didn't feel much stronger or more epic, I just felt like as the waves got bigger, I had more tools at my disposal to keep the enemies away from me.
The loot system didn't help much either. I had access to all of the DLC, so I started out with some really good weapons and armor, some of which lasted through like 75% of the game, and thank god that they did because the loot system kind of sucks. Now, in principle, the idea of finding and collecting all these armor pieces and weapons sounds cool, and at first I though it was. After the first two dungeons or so however, I started to become annoyed. You find chests and chests and endless more chests of the same looking, same feeling, same playing items, that you almost never equip and more often than not just sell. You're constantly stuck in your damn inventory, trying to figure out which item is worth less than the items currently laying on the ground so you can make the most money and it's just tedious. Most of the loot looked bland and the same too, making no apparent difference between holding a level 1 and a level 30 weapon besides stats.
Creating possessed weapons was kind of fun (although the PC version does not allow you to name them), but after a while I just felt like I was replacing the same weapon over and over again, just looking at a bunch of stats instead of actually feeling like I had gotten some new epic weapon. It kind of feels like the dungeons; at first I really enjoyed them but after a while I felt like I was just repeating the same thing over and over again.
Collectibles were also tedious and they're just not fun at all to collect. A lot of them are arbitrarily placed in the world, stuck behind some gameplay mechanism that you won't get until many hours later in the game, causing you to constantly roam around to world and going back and forth between these huge levels trying to figure out which ability grants you access to which collectible. Then there's all these stones you have to shoot for stat upgrades that are super easy to miss and artifacts you need for money/ability points and book of the dead pages you need for the tombs.... it's just too much and not fun. In the first Darksiders you could just jump between the few levels, in the second one doing this takes you hours.
Lastly, I think it deserves to be said that the PC port of Darksiders 2 is pretty horrendous. I've experience many, many crashes, I've had to deal with various bugs and glitches and the framerate is incredibly inconsistent, with performance overall being very mediocre. In addition to this the port also suffers from bad stuttering issues that I never managed to get rid of.
Overall I think the game just didn't know what it wanted to be. It tries to be an rpg, a hack and slasher, a third person shooter, a cinematic adventure... so instead of having this solid, tight game like the first Darksiders with a few fleshed out gameplay elements it just ends up being a bit of a mess, with too much going on at the same time. Darksiders 1 started epic and ended epic, making me feel like I did something awesome and that more greatness was to come. Darksiders 2 started epic and left me feeling like I had accomplished absolutely nothing.
The game has some really good things going for it, and there are indeed certain dungeons, puzzles, combat sections, bosses and questlines that are awesome and fun to play, but when you put the whole thing together it just doesn't hold up. Where the first Darksiders felt like it had a consistent quality, Darksiders 2 seemed to dwindle down the further you got into the game, and as a huge fan of the first game this left me incredibly disappointed.
I definitely wouldn't say it is a bad game and I don't regret having played it, but I just feel like it doesn't hold up in comparison to the first. Basically where I'd rate the first Darksiders 9/10, I'd give Darksiders 2 a 7/10. Not bad or mediocre, but just "alright".
I hope, if there is ever a Darksiders 3, that they pick a genre and stick with it. Scale down the dungeons, scale down the padding and collectibles, make the combat more manageable and make me feel like I did something at the end of the game!
So, what are your thoughts on Darksiders 2 and what kind of game do you want Darksiders 3 to be?