At first glance, it's easy to compare Darksiders to God of War, Devil May Cry, and Bayonetta because all of the games mix a supernatural setting with over-the-top action-packed gameplay. The last of those is also due out in January, and both games feature a story where the forces of light battle the forces of darkness. While the premise might not be completely original, Darksiders manages to stand out of the pack with its role-playing-game-like progression system and a vivid, distinctive art style, thanks to creative director (and Marvel artist) Joe "Mad" Madureira. He presented an update of the game at a recent event in London, and we got a chance to see this promising apocalyptic action romp in greater detail.
The story in Darksiders is inspired by the Bible's Book of Revelation, and you play as War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It seems War has been tricked into kick-starting the irreversible events of the Apocalypse: fire, brimstone, and that sort of thing. Banished to Earth and stripped of his immortality by his superiors, it's up to you to set things right and clear War's name in the process. Along the way, you earn experience, which can be used to unlock and upgrade a deadly arsenal of weapons. War's most important tool is his sword, which makes easy work of grunts, such as imps, zombies, and angels. It's also useful against boss characters and can be used to perform some awesome one-button finishing moves, which result in a satisfying spray of inky black bodily fluid. There's a range of sweet special moves you can use it for, including some where you spin horizontally and vertically with your blade, slicing and dicing through opponents in the process.
War is also equipped with a killer oversized gauntlet, and you can crush a zombie's skull into a splattering mess with the tap of a button. We also saw the giant shuriken-shaped "crossblade," which you can use to target multiple enemies with, much like Zelda's boomerang. Another advantage of the crossblade is that you can switch to another weapon, such as your sword, and dish out extra damage at the same time. We also got treated to a brand new weapon not seen before: the "redemption" grenade launcher. You initially prise it from the steaming corpse of an angelic being, but we're told you also discover a demonic variant later on with different properties (we'll have to wait to find out what they are). Due to the menacing firepower of such weapons as the grenade launcher, you will only be able to use them in certain areas. The most powerful weapon at War's disposal, however, seems to be his "chaos form" ability. Transforming into his true form--a terrifying flaming demon beast--allows you to unleash some devastating melee damage in a short limited time period.
Madureira introduced us to a giant rocklike creature during his presentation called The Smith. Brandishing a giant mace and capable of performing a hilarious head-butt move that can send you flying, The Smith is a formidable foe. Thankfully, you earn its respect and will get to play alongside it at certain points throughout the game. The Smith becomes an indispensible help at times, thanks to its ability to smash through walls and fling you onto rooftops, which allows you to explore new areas.
During the event, we also got some extended play time with the first part of the game, so check out our extended hands-on impressions in the coming weeks once we're allowed to reveal all. Darksiders is coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in January.