Generally, death is a hindrance rather than a help, however when Death is your brother, you will be glad to have him on your side. This is the situation that War finds himself in after has being wrongly accused by the Charred Council of starting the Apocalypse early, hoping that his sibling will pull through and clear his name. Thankfully for War, Death is an arrogant, sarcastic, cold and calculating anti-hero who doesn’t wait for things to happen, but instead causes them to happen, which makes him the perfect man to save his brother.
Rather than taking place directly after the original, Darksiders II has a parallel storyline which runs alongside it. What this means is that, as events are taking place in the first game, Death is out proving his brother’s innocence in the second. It may sound like a simple task, but a massive adventure full of danger and intrigue stands in his way. It’s not going to be easy, but when Death is involved, it never is.
With our recent hands on time with the near final code we took control of Death from the very start of his journey. This gave us a good idea of how the story is told and how Death will evolve as you play through the game. I have to say that (as with most games) there is a little bit of a learning curve at first, as you need to remember to pick up loot, equipment and also get used to the various weapon combinations in order to take down the enemy and defend yourself at the same time. Once you pick get past this initial sticking point though, it’s a joy to play.
Darksiders II seems to bring a lot to the table when it comes to keeping gamers entertained. Straight away you are introduced to the loot system which rewards you with items whenever you open a chest or kill an enemy. Given that this is an RPG of sorts, you won’t always be able to use this loot straight away, instead you will have to wait until you gain the required experience level. Equipment varies from armor, potions and to one of the most important aspects of the game, weapons.
The weapons in Darksiders II are fantastic, in fact most are just as surprising as the story itself with some pretty decent weapons to get hold of; such as Axes, Scythes, Hammers, Maces and plenty more. Aside from carving up enemies the majority of weapons also have specific abilities such as health steal or regeneration powers, with some weapons even being possessed and can grow more powerful should you sacrifice other items to them. As mentioned, not all equipment can be used straight away, although that’s not to say that you don’t get some pretty powerful weapons at the start of the game anyway.
Perhaps the main beauty of Darksiders II is that the weapons compliment the combat perfectly. It’s fast paced but not a button basher. You really need to use your instincts and skills to take the enemy down. Generally this can be done through a combination of dodging and by using your primary and secondary weapons together, however some enemies are just too tough to defeat in this way, which is where Death’s magical skills come in to play.
Being Death, it’ll perhaps come as no surprise to learn that one such path he can take in terms of magical abilities is the Necromancer route, which allows Death to summon zombies to fight alongside him. As he grows stronger, so do these abilities, making the spells more powerful and varied too; for instance, one such spell allows Death to call upon a swarm of crows to take down pesky foes. As well as the Necromancer path, Death also has the choice of going down the Harbringer route. This is far removed from Necromancy, instead giving Death himself the moves he needs to take down enemies. These spells can involve giving Death lightning speed via teleportation or the magic can be utilised to slow the enemy down, making them easier picking for his rather large scythe.
Death also gains further abilities as you progress further, although I’d rather leave talking about these until you have either played the game for yourself, or read our future review.
Even though we have talked a lot about the combat, and rightly so, Darksiders II isn’t all about the fighting. Just like any other classic action/adventure game, this title also has its fair share of exploring and puzzles. Throughout many of the levels you will find yourself scaling ledges and climbing walls as you search for treasure and look for ways to proceed in the current environment you find yourself in. Puzzles are varied, having you move around large-spheres in order to open gates or seeing you shoot at sticky bombs in order to clear a path. To be honest we just scratched the surface in our play through, so we imagine there is a lot more to see in this respect.
If you have played the first game then you’ll already know how wonderful it looked, so it will come as no surprise to learn that Darksiders II is twice as impressive. Everything not only looks better, but it’s all been done on a larger scale. This makes calling on Death’s horse, Despair (which you have from the start) essential in order to get around these expansive environments, plus if you get sidetracked Death can also call upon the services of a crow named Dust, whose purple trail will lead you back to the path of the main quest.
Having around four hours hands on with this game I could easily have doubled that playing through the main quest and still not scratched the surface of the hugely impressive and highly anticipated title that is Darksiders II. Waiting for release day could quite honestly be the longest three weeks I will ever encountered as a gamer. However at least when the time comes to finally put the disc into the machine, I know it’ll definitely have been worth the wait.
To learn even more about Darksiders II be should to check out our interview with Lead Designer, Haydn Dalton here.
Darksiders II is out this August. You can pre-order a copy here (PS3), here (Xbox 360) or here (PC).