By: Jeff Cater
A remnant of now-defunct publisher THQ, Darksiders 2 was released back in 2012. After controlling War in the original, the sequel focused on one of the other Four Horsemen, Death. In Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition, upgraded for current-gen consoles, you can look forward to slicing through hordes of foes in a quest to save Death’s brother War from being wrongfully convicted of ending Humanity. Yes, Death has to save War, because one without the other just doesn’t work too well.
Absolutely everything about the way you control Death feels spot on: the combat is quick and frantic, and it rewards precise combo placement and weapon choice. Square is bound to Death’s primary weapon, which basically translates to “light attack.” Starting up an attack string with Triangle is generally a lot more sluggish, as secondary weapons tend to be giant axes or hammers, but blending Square and Triangle during combat is snappy and rewarding.
You can also activate attacks during pretty much any other action and have it lead into a unique and devastating combo; for example, when you perform a dash with R1 and start spamming Square halfway through, Death will go completely bonkers and dice everything in his path.
With the beautifully constructed combat system out of the way, there are a few things to be said about the general platforming controls: they can be a real pain sometimes. For instance, if Death happens to be grabbing onto a hanging wooden pillar and needs to jump to another one, orientation can be a bit tricky.
Holding L2 will get Death ready to leap off of his current pillar, while X (jump) triggers the action. Part of the problem lies in just how quickly Death moves and scrambles upon walls; it’s just far too easy to push him to the wrong side of a jump.
Being that the game was originally released on the last generation of consoles, you can expect that Darksiders 2: DE won’t drop your jaw. The thing about that is that the original title was already a pretty beast looking game, and now it’s been spruced up with 1080p textures and a more stabilized framerate.
Weapons and armor sets not only affect your stats but are actually unique visual components as well, so Death, who is already badass, just gets more and more badass as you play. Although the textures have been upscaled, some of the environments tend to feel a bit sterile or empty, as the superb textures don’t really mesh well with the emptiness of certain areas.
Enemies and Death himself are animated extremely well, showing not only Death’s prowess in combat but also his superb navigational instinct. Death can run along walls, grip mossy exposures and even do a Hayabusa-esque wall-jump, and it all looks awesome — it reminds me of Raziel from Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver in how he negotiates obstacles.
While exploring, the music does a great job of shifting from a quasi-peaceful tone to a pounding, suspenseful measure when combat gets the jump on you. Voice work is also well done, and after only a short time Michael Wincott‘s portrayal of Death can send chills down your spine (and probably your poor enemies as well!).
If someone you know has played the game and told you anything about it, you’d probably think to yourself, “My, that sounds like Ocarina of Time.” That would be a pretty accurate assessment, too, because Darksiders 2 does indeed feel like a game firmly rooted in the same values as the famed Zelda series.
There are wonderful and head-scratching platforming events, bloody and engaging fights, and a huge world before you full of unexplored mysteries. You’ll often find yourself faced with unique puzzles that are never dull or overbearing; they feel just the right length and complexity between fights or exploration.
While exploring, you will often enlist the aid of your skeletal horse Despair, and your guiding raven Dust, who can highlight the path to the next objective and will often land on interesting objects, many of which you can interact with. This is most useful while completing side quests given by the various NPCs you run across, as sometimes finding the specific item they need isn’t always obvious (but it usually is).
As you level up and unlock more special attacks to utilize your Wrath (think Mana), the combat remains fresh and fun the whole time. Experimenting with different weapon combinations is a blast, and finding a set suitable to your play style is a truly enjoyable endeavor.
If you didn’t get around to playing Darksiders 2 on the last generation of consoles, you would do well to check this out. Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition not only includes the wonderful base game, but all of the DLC packs as well, making this an excellent value for the price.