When I first heard about Darksiders, I was glad to hear that there was another game following in the footsteps of The Legend of Zelda’s item-based exploration. While other popular games are often copied endlessly by their competition The Legend of Zelda series seems to have avoided this problem entirely. The Legend of Zelda series has always introduced new ideas that have influenced the industry, but the the basics of the gameplay are rarely copied outright. Unfortunately, this causes a different problem that fans of other video game genres do not have: there are no similar games to play between Legend of Zelda releases.
Darksiders builds on the basic gameplay of The Legend of Zelda series and outperforms its predecessor in some ways. The result is a game that feels similar enough to The Legend of Zelda to make fans feel at home but offers enough differences to feel like something entirely new.
Darksiders always emphasizes combat over puzzles.
At first, Darksiders feels nothing like a Legend of Zelda game. You will be at least an hour into the game before you begin exploring dungeons like Link. Instead, you’ll be bashing demons with a sword. Even after you begin exploring dungeons, it is clear that the developers wanted to emphasize the combat. Adventuring is frequently interrupted by lengthy battles that you must complete to move forward.The combat is fast-paced and fun thanks to the combo system, but up until the final dungeon I still found it irritating when I was suddenly interrupted by a fight sequence.
At first, combat can feel repetitive, but once you unlock new combos the combat becomes more fluent and more fun. Combos are unlocked (and then upgraded) by purchasing them with the souls you collect from defeated enemies. It’s a simple system that allows you to choose your own play style. There were many combos I did not purchase at all and others that I chose not to upgrade because I rarely used them. Most of the combos are for your primary weapon, a sword, but there are also combos for the two secondary weapons you acquire during the game. The inventory items you acquire in dungeons do not have combos, but upgrades can be purchased that modify the way they function or simply increase the damage dealt.
About half way through the game you will be introduced to horseback riding and combat that is superior to The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in every way. There are multiple combat scenarios (including boss fights) that take place entirely on horseback. The horseback scenarios are some of the most memorable in the game.
The emphasis on combat is a clear departure from The Legend of Zelda, and as a result the combat is much more fun than the combat in The Legend of Zelda. However, Darksiders can become a little irritating due to the frequent forced combat. I rarely found myself fighting an optional battle or even a battle that I could escape from temporarily. When fighting begins the doors lock. This design choice makes combat feel like a chore.
Darksiders has a unique setting and an interesting story.
Tons of video games have you prevent the end of the world, and tons of other video games have you surviving after the end of the world. Darksiders takes place both during and after the end of the world, but with a different point of view. You play through the game as War, one of the four horseman of the apocalypse, who has been deceived into ushering in the end of the world before the appointed time. Throughout the game, you will fight against both angels and demons as you try to clear your name.
Your task is simple, but the mystery of what happened doesn’t become clear until the end of the game. Even then, the game ends with some matters unresolved (hopefully leaving room for sequels that will resolve the loose ends).
Darksiders features only a few mediocre dungeons.
Darksiders is a relatively short game with only five dungeons and brief scenarios between each dungeon. I spent less than fifteen hours playing through the game without finding all the collectibles or acquiring all the upgrades. Furthermore, the dungeon design cannot begin to compare to that of The Legend of Zelda series.
Every dungeon has memorable moments, but all of them are hampered by the constant fighting sequences. One dungeon doesn’t feel like a dungeon at all. I didn’t realize I was inside a dungeon until I reached the boss; the entire dungeon was one huge fighting sequence.
On the other hand, the settings of each dungeon are perfect. Darksiders doesn’t have a “forest temple” or a “fire temple”. You are exploring the world after mankind has been wiped out, so the dungeons take place in the structures that were left. One dungeon is a ruined cathedral and another in the remains of a subway system. The puzzle design is nothing extraordinary, but the dungeons still feel new thanks to the unique atmosphere.
While Darksiders is definitely far from perfect, I really enjoyed my time with the game. It’s unfortunate that Darksiders was over so quickly.
The frequent combat can be irritating, but I still found myself having fun fighting the legions of Heaven and Hell. When compared to The Legend of Zelda series, the dungeons aren’t anything special, but Darksiders is interesting enough to keep you playing regardless.
Darksiders is a great beginning to what I hope will become a long-lasting franchise. Every fan of The Legend of Zelda ought to play through Darksiders.