Death, the most feared of the Four Horsemen is back and ready to take our lives once more. After initially being treated to a gaming debut on Xbox 360, Nordic Games have decided it would be for the best to drag Death out of the gutter, revamp him a little bit and see him drop in on an unsuspecting newer audience.
But sometimes things are best left in the past and the numerous revamps and redefined ‘Definitive’ editions that are currently appearing on the new gen haven’t all been a success.
Surely though with Death involved, Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition can’t fail?
As you would expect, the basic premise is exactly the same as that found in the original game. Death arrives on a mission to restore mankind, redeeming his brother’s name in the process. As one of the legendary Horsemen, he does however discover that an earthly Apocalypse is the least of his worries, with an ancient grudge bubbling up from below!
Set as a third person action adventure teamed with a good amount of brawling, Darksiders II will see Death traipse around the world he finds himself in, with his ever faithful crow, Dust, by his side, pointing him in the right direction whenever he gets lost. With a fairly decent sized world to explore, all of which is pretty well open for those who like to spend time discovering hidden secrets and chests of loot, it is quite possible to get lost in the Darksiders II world for longer than you would imagine. Thankfully, you won’t have to run around like a headless chicken too much, as a large chunk of the gameplay allows you to drag in Despair, your green-glowing, loyal horse to provide a quicker mode of transport. If he fails to deliver, then once you’ve discovered a location, fast traveling stops any back-tracking frustration from raising its ugly head. It’s just a shame that the map that Death always relies on is hidden away behind too many menus, as the included mini-map can only provide so much detail.
The environments and puzzles that you’ll get to check out are well designed and clever. There is never really a moment when you’ll need to stand around for hours on end trying to find a solution, and similarly, you won’t need to head to Youtube to search for a walkthrough, but the grey matter will be worked to a degree. Clambering around, throwing explosive items at balls, and ridding the world of corruption is something that Death excels at and his traversal through both the horizontal and vertical world is clean and precise.
Meeting others, both good and bad, is also well created. There are numerous missions which Death will need to receive in order to fully complete his quest and whilst conversations with quest givers and merchants are brief, simple and uncomplex, they are well scripted and aside from a ton of lip syncing issues, do the job that is asked of them.
Similarly, meet up with some of the bad guys that frequent the world and Death is in his element. With a fast flowing melee combat style at the forefront of the combat system, if you’d prefer to go equipped with one of Death’s obtained pistols, Redemption, then you can do so. Just be aware that the damage it causes is by no means a match for his scythes, axes and other close combat weapons. He’ll need them all too because there are times when Death is completely outnumbered on the battlefield. A swift flick of the wrists however is all he needs to despatch most enemies, rolling, dodging and attacking when the time is right. The camera which brings all this combat into action however is slightly slow to react, with a constant need for realignment in order to actually see what is going on properly. That can become frustrating and is a bit of a shame for the rest of the combat system is quality.
That aside though and the fighting that Death partakes in is one of the standout features and once upgraded weapons and armour sets have been acquired, is thrilling and rewarding. You’ll obviously also need to upgrade Death’s stats and skills via a couple of well rounded skill trees and these bring about the chance to amend the game to your own design.
There are however problems with Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition, most of which centre around visual lag and tearing. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve played a game recently that suffers from such huge issues as Darksiders II does on Xbox One. Whilst much of the game is fine, if you find Death navigating his way at speed through a tight area, or one filled with detailed scenery, then the screen will jolt back and forth, the lag will kick in and you’ll begin to feel the initial effects of a headache. So much so in fact that it’s a bit of a tough task to just continue playing this Deathinitive Edition for much longer than an hour at a time. The audio that accompanies it doesn’t have anywhere near the same problems and I’ve been very pleased with the soundtrack that joins Death on his journey.
Whilst I loved the game when it first released on Xbox 360, the same can’t be said now that it’s arrived here on the new generation. Slightly tired, it plays out like a older Tomb Raider title, with the same kind of puzzles that once gripped audiences with Lara Croft, now being trneated to more of the same whilst feeling like Death. Honestly though, I always thought the standard game brought about a substantial challenge, but the addition of all the downloadable content that previous owners would have had to pay for, just ensures that you get to spend even more time with the delightful Death. I’m not exactly sure I’m meant to be enjoying my time spent with the reaper though!
Gaming has moved on in the few short years since Darksiders II originally released and the visual upgrades (if you can call them that), reworked game balancing and inclusion of all the previous downloadable content that is now in place, can’t help Death shine a light to a newer IP. Add on the super annoying graphical glitches that really ruin the game and we’ve got something which is a great deal of fun to play, but disappointing in the same breath.
I’d be totally up for a completely new Darksiders title, but whilst the digital price is most certainly a tempter, this Deathinitive Edition falls a tiny bit short for those firmly encased in the newer generation.