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Review

Darksiders II Review

  • Game release: August 13, 2012
  • Reviewed: August 16, 2012
  • PC

Darksiders II merges action, exploration, and loot-driven progression into an excellent and sizable adventure.

First comes War; then comes Death. Appropriately enough, Darksiders II turns its eyes from its predecessor's protagonist to a new one: Death himself, War's brother and one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. His story plays out over the same time period as War's, but Darksiders II's narrative isn't so much about plot as it is about place and tone. The original Darksiders set a darkly fantastical mood, but the sequel hones its edges. The armor is still chunky and the sound of steel on steel still rings across battle arenas, but the skies are more ominous, the shadows grimmer, and the architecture sharper, as if every spire threatens to puncture the heavens and make them bleed.

If you're playing on the PC, unfortunately, you must overcome some minor but annoying obstacles as you flex Death's sizable muscles. As with the original Darksiders, Darksiders II features few visual sliders, and the game looks more or less like its console counterpart, without any of the bells and whistles you'd expect to see in a modern PC game. (You can't even adjust the resolution until you have started the game.) Even with v-sync turned on, you might still notice some screen tearing. The missteps aren't just visual, however: the option to send weapons or armor to residents of your Steam friends list is nonfunctional as of this writing.

In spite of the technical missteps, Darksiders II still draws you in, though not by narrative, in spite of its characters' frequent and raspy soliloquizing. Rather, it uses sights and sounds to impress upon you the importance of your deeds. While one level harks back to the angels-versus-demons, Christian apocalypse themes of the original game, Darksiders II springs forth from a more inventive vision. The dusky dungeons and desert expanses are more diverse than before, and the character designs are more imaginative, as if they've wandered in from biblical legends you've never heard. The characters you meet--undead rulers and impossibly proportioned behemoths among them--speak with humorless gravity, and Death often responds with a sneer and a verbal challenge.

The mouse and keyboard function just fine, but when facing this bad boy, it's best to plug in a controller.

The joylessness of Darksiders II's characters is a contrast to the pleasure of existing in this world. An icy opening introduces you to the basics of combat and movement. In traditional action game style, you slash away at clawed creatures with primary and secondary weapons. You run along walls and jump across beams like a devilish Prince of Persia. But most importantly--and in contrast to the original--your enemies drop coins, armor, and weapons. You can don equipment, sell it to a merchant, or sacrifice it to level up rare possessed weapons, which you can customize at certain thresholds.

If the original Darksiders was an action/adventure/puzzle game, then the addition of loot drops role-playing elements into that mix, which brings to mind a potential concern: Darksiders was already a heavy mixture of recipes that had come before, recalling games like The Legend of Zelda, God of War, and even Portal. There were so many mechanics and so many tools to keep track of that the game struggled to find its own identity.

In Darksiders II, a funny thing happens on the way to the apocalypse: it establishes an identity all its own, rather than one defined through the games that inspired its existence. The game's expanded scope (about twice as big as the first game) and thoughtful pace (about twice as long as the first game) are most responsible for this. You now have a chance to breathe between battles, and each new mechanic has time to settle in before a new one is introduced. The more leisurely sense of pace is obvious from the very beginning. Darksiders' first hour was front-loaded with explosions, angelic cries, and the bloodcurdling sights of demonic forces swarming across the earth. Here, there are moments to take in the frozen chasms beneath you, and to enjoy the slick new motion mechanics that have you defying gravity in heady flights of fancy. (You won't miss War's wings in light of Death's fleet-footedness.)

It's hot in herrre.

You might miss the up-front barrage of action at first, but Darksiders II is more about adventure than constant onslaught, though there are plenty of battles waiting ahead. As you ride your steed to the first main dungeon, you can relish the green fields of the first of multiple major regions, and simply enjoy the act of being. If you want, you can explore some of the surrounding ruins, where treasure chests protect valuable pauldrons and cloaks. Or you can slash up the baddies that roam the land, even from atop your horse. But once you get into the dungeons, Darksiders II becomes special--more cerebral than your average action game, and more energetic than your average exploration game.

As expected, each dungeon requires that you puzzle out how to get from one point to the next. At first, this involves scaling walls, throwing the naturally occurring bombs you stumble upon, and pulling a few levers. Then, you get a phantom grapple hook that allows you to swing from glowing hooks and extend your wall runs. Later, you split yourself in three, petrifying your main form and using two doppelgangers to stand on switches and move platforms. Ultimately, you fire portals to travel across great ravines and even through time itself--and these are hardly the extent of the tools you use to make progress through Darksiders II's clever self-contained puzzles.

Where the original Darksiders' puzzles could drag, Darksiders II's are more expertly crafted, each one a little more difficult than the last--but never too difficult as to be frustrating. The learning curve is silky smooth, and once you reach the final dungeons, there are some outstanding moments when puzzling out a solution makes you feel remarkably smart. It's a tough tightrope for a developer to balance: making environmental puzzles feel challenging without becoming a roadblock to progression. Darksiders II's dungeons get it just right, giving you enough hints through camera angles and other subtle cues, and then trusting you to work out the solution. The only cue you can't rely on too heavily is your crow, Dust, who is supposed to point out your final destination should you get stuck, but might lead you astray, or flutter high above you and then teleport back.

Fortunately, you won't often need Dust's services, given each dungeon's natural progression. Nor will you need to worry about using a spinning blade to play connect-the-bombs, which was part of Darksiders' less appealing puzzles. You also needn't constantly fiddle with menus to switch between items and abilities. Given the sheer breadth of abilities, you still do a bit of control micromanagement; you might need to switch between an ability and your revolver often in a particular level, for instance, though the related ability wheel is easily accessed with the D-pad or tab key. Nevertheless, managing your abilities and equipment is smoother than it was in the original.

Darksiders II has both hacking and slashing, though not necessarily in that order.

Combat skills are divided into two trees and allow for powerful offensive moves (a vicious spin attack, for instance) or for summoning creatures to assist in battle (a murder of crows, perhaps). The action is largely satisfying: it's smooth and responsive under the fingers and is colorful and bloody onscreen. Death's primary scythes make for fluid combat, while his secondary weapon provides rhythmic diversity. That weapon might be a huge axe that sets wraiths on fire, or superfast gauntlets with an electric charge. Your grapple and your gun can also be valuable assets when certain foes join the fray, and battles are at their best when you confront multiple creatures with diverse attack patterns.

That isn't to say that Darksiders II's combat is all that challenging on normal difficulty, though it is more energetic than in the original. No longer can you whittle down a demon's health and perform a single-button finishing move almost every time. You can still perform such finishers, but they are far less common, though some equipment can raise your chances. Provided you have enough health potions (and there's no reason you shouldn't, given your easy wealth), you won't often feel in danger. Even certain bosses can be conquered in a single go, in contrast with Darksiders' more challenging endeavors. That's a particularly disappointing development when you reach the final monstrosity and realize it's an anticlimactic pushover.

Wild horses couldn't drag you away--from this gargantuan boss.

The challenge is hit-and-miss, but the thrills are unmistakable. Easy as many are, the bosses are often enormous in scale, and some require the use of your special abilities--your grapple, for instance--to succeed. With only a couple of exceptions, Darksiders II doesn't use quick-time events to elicit excitement: the torrents of blood that spew across the screen are the direct result of your combos and volcanic fury. The biggest battles are pure power fantasy, reinforced by Death's ever-more-threatening armor and ever-more-potent weapons. Even the way Death opens doors and chests is part of this power trip, with the horseman summoning ghostly arms to perform such lowly labors.

It almost goes without saying that like so many third-person action games of its ilk, Darksiders II is best when played with a controller, though the keyboard and mouse function properly, at least. And so its console roots are apparent, but Darksiders II is great on PC nonetheless. It uses its expansive geography to cultivate a poetic tempo in which your intellectual triumphs are rewarded with the immediate pleasures of fleet-footed platforming and demonic brutality. In Darksiders II, Death is not an end, but rather, a portal to a memorable saga of snarling brutes and stolen souls.

The Good
Fluid, colorful action that evolves over time
Clever, progressively more challenging environmental puzzles
Allure of new, cool loot pushes you onward
Expansive adventure, with lots of dungeons to explore
Great audiovisual presentation sets the right apocalyptic tone
The Bad
Some performance and technical issues
No proper visual customization options
Disappointing bosses, especially the final boss
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews
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About the Author

Discussion

0 comments
Tranula
Tranula

Found this little gem on Steam for 5.99.  To be honest, I haven't had this much fun since, well, since the first one.  Amazing game.  The fact that they through in some great RPG elements makes this a dream come true for me.  Like Godlikan says below, I hope they keep with this amazing series.  Cant really explain it other then its just a brilliantly designed game that is tons of fun.  Your doing yourself an injustice if you don't pick this diamond in the rough up.  yeah the graphics could be better but its an xbox 360 port.  Please don't let that discourage you, and since its been patched, I have experienced zero technical problems.  Even on my GTX460m. 

Godlikan
Godlikan

Good game indeed, hope there will be sequel after sale of franchise.

Gooeykat
Gooeykat

Sign if you're here because of the steam sale.

aruhela1994
aruhela1994

Its nice to see death doing what it exists for

kakuzu19
kakuzu19

darksiders gets an 8  darksiders 2 gets  8.5

really!

war is way much better than death

darksonic140
darksonic140

The graphics could be better but i liked it so much.

124C1
124C1

So underrated(

tauseef-it
tauseef-it

Simply Awesome, the best game i have played so far, darksiders ii states are more interesting, i am addicted, thanks vigil games and THQ...

bbcversus
bbcversus

Game of the year 2012 and one of the best games I played in a looong time!

IBLEES1983
IBLEES1983

one of the best games i have played so far

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

godamit, isn't there a single 3rd person pc game that doesn't require a gamepad?

life_is_code
life_is_code

those who want some thrill , must play this game ! 

 

 

I thought I was Death ! ;-)

Tr2et
Tr2et

Half hack'n'slash, half RPG, not many new moves, and Death - in my opinion - is weaker than War. Anyway, it's a good game.

gregbmil
gregbmil

Off topic, but were is "the good"  and "the bad"?    Does this mean I have to read the entire review?

misterbanks87
misterbanks87

Again Kevin lets the bad out weigh the good  A LOTTTTTTTT and  A LOT of what he says isn't even the way it is when you play.  I think he just tries to hard to penetrate the subtle things in a game, that in the end most gamers don't care about, just the overly intellectual people do.

mmarufahmed
mmarufahmed

Fantastic game. 10/10. If YOU ARE PLAYING IT WITH KEYBOARD AND MOUSE, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. Get a 360 controller

ErvinJackal
ErvinJackal

Great game, but not a Pc friendly game like Assassin creed or such.,, this backfires hardly, the fact is bosses are not really the hard part, but the real hard part is using mouse for movements and camera angles... If they solve this issues then this is perhaps on of the best games of all times...

Talk2Luke
Talk2Luke

Do I have to play the Darksiders I to understand the plot of this game?

Blue_Tomato
Blue_Tomato

Why does the PC version get a lower score than the xbox version? What is the difference if playing with a game controller? I thought if any difference, it would be better graphics?

wencelaus
wencelaus

Let's see: there are two more horsemen to go. Conquest sounds like a badass ass-kicker, so I think a pretty good game could be made.....as long as he can slice and dice with attitude.

 

But that last horseman is called Famine. Imagine a game built around this character. Would he be questing for refrigerators? Would we gamers weigh 300 pounds after playing?

 

I think War lived up to his name nicely, and he looked pretty pissed most of the time. Death, on the other hand, has a tough act to follow.......and a tougher name to live up to.

Master_cheat001
Master_cheat001

I keep waiting for Dark Soul Pc 's review. If DS PDE gets higher score than Darsksiders 2, I will not visit GS anymore.

Poldek87
Poldek87

Sorry kevin but this time i can't agree , i have the Pc version and it works just fine , no screen tearing , no fps drops , it just plays fine , as for the game , it's a lot better then the first one , cool music , lots of exploration , , exactly what a sequel should be.

 

SpyderWeiss
SpyderWeiss

No mention of new game + in the review and how this can help to extend the games lifetime?  Other than that, sounds like a very fair and well researched review, thanks Kevin!

fang_proxy
fang_proxy

10 minutes of fight then 2 hours of puzzles?he is suppose to be death and he fucking errand boy/lara croft solving puzzles......?great visuals,nice combat but the half game was puzzles?

suyang456
suyang456

i know a site that sell credits, www.ksgamer.com, i only play wow ,buy wow gold from the site, you can go to the site to buy swtor credits

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

GTA IV > Max Payne 3 = Skyrim = Sims 3 = Call of Duty: Black Ops > Borderlands > Darksiders 2

 

Just a random chain. I could go deeper, like to say Transformers War for Cybertron is better than GTA IV, which means its better than Skyrim? I know I'm tossing around different scales, mine and Gamespot's, but it just starts to make me think being a game journalist should be a low paying part-time job or done for free like Huffington Post. Fake gamers like Kevin likely have been forced to review too many games for work and not fun and it gets frustrating for them, so they very often rate games out of whack to what their audience would rate it. It's weird that when a review is spot on the crowd seems to agree on mass, but when it's off, we detect the insincerity and everyone disagree. People will call it polarizing, but once you've been "tricked" by enough insincere reviews you'll know the difference between a farcical review and a polarizing one. Maybe they should movie on a only edit reviews of the games they like and let actual gamers just review they games they play instead of reviews like this where you can tell the reviewer had no interest in the game, despite how eloquent they were or that they would give a game a good review because they were expected to.

systemmm
systemmm

many thanks it was amazing

 

Cherokee_Jack
Cherokee_Jack

"Darksiders II features few visual sliders"

Darksiders II features no visual sliders, or 1 if you count the resolution setting.

 

 

twtech
twtech

The only real complaint I have about the PC version is the stability issues.  It was really bad on launch night, and is better now, but the game still will crash here and there, and usually requires a reboot after or it will keep crashing.  Fortunately autosaves are frequent, and you can save whenever you want in addition, so the prospect of losing a lot of work is minimized.

 

Otherwise, it plays very nicely on PC, and is actually just what I was looking for.  I have a computer hooked up to my TV with a wireless 360 controller adapter, and it basically gives me an upgraded console gaming experience.  

 

I don't know what the console experience is like, but I rarely ever see the streaming cursor, and when I do it's gone within a fraction of a second.  The tearing is noticeable at times - I didn't attempt to turn on VSync in the driver (it's not an option in the game) - but the framerate is otherwise very smooth on my HTPC powered by a 2600K and GTX570.

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

I think as much as we hate the fact, the FACT is PC gaming is dying these big publishers don't like the PC for many reasons not just because they blame us for PIRACY but because they have much more control over consoles. Second hand ports will be the only way we get ANY games soon PC exclusives will be a thing of the past :(.

 

RadPro
RadPro

 @ErvinJackal My Logitech F710 works great with this game, why use a mouse+keyboard for games like this when there are great gamepads available on PC? I can understand using M+K in first person shooters but not for these kind of games.

mmarufahmed
mmarufahmed

 @Blue_Tomato Not for all games, but playing with a controller really makes playing this game much better. the combos are fun to execute with a controller. IME

alioli
alioli

 @fang_proxy I do agree a bit, there was a bit too much puzzles but.. I dont complain THAT much..

 

Main problem is that combat is so bloody easy

noeway
noeway

 @Kryptonbornson WHATTTTT,someone would work online for free.Seriously i starting to think that giving a game low score make them looks like more professional.

Cherokee_Jack
Cherokee_Jack

And changing the resolution doesn't even work like it should, since at 1080p the menus look like ass.

 

 

noeway
noeway

 @MADPADDY "PC gaming is dying" then why did they keep making more and more high end GPUs.And if what you said is true then the graphic card manufacturing companies would be fucked.May be in your future only consoles have better graphic card and PCs only hold GPUs like intel 4000.Which wouldn't make sense either since every console games are made on PCs.

alioli
alioli

 @MADPADDY PC gaming is NOT dying.

Just the fact that we got Paradox as a full time PC supporter tells me it aint dying any time soon.

gfile
gfile

 @MADPADDY We`ll still have Total War series exclusive on PC, coz it just can`t be played on a console. Rome 2 is a proof.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

 @MADPADDY Or PC gaming will just be PC gaming that basically sticks to single player, single screen (including VR) experiences and online, while console goes back to a flesh and blood couch experience. After about a month of Xbox Live, I see why Blizzard never incorporated voice chat.

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

 @noeway Wow you got me your Superior intellect and grasp of the way things work has made me see the light.

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

 @alioli It's dying as a main gaming system I didn't say it was dead yet could take another 10 yrs. And I would'nt think paradox is going to save us how many AAA titles do they publish, yes the pc may keep going as a niche strategy machine but as a main gaming platform it is constantly playing second fiddle to consoles. I'm an avid PC gamer but over the 30+ yrs ive been a PC gamer ever seen it constantly losing ground and over the last 10 yrs console ports have started to become the norm.

 

MADPADDY
MADPADDY

 @Kryptonbornson Yeh MMOs and online will keep us going for a while but i dont think it will save the PC gaming.The PC doesnt have ANY advantage from a Dev / Business model and the next gen consoles will be a mini PC in everything but name.The sad fact is all they need to do and have never bothered is make the PC conform to a more unified structure so its easier to develop for.They have talked about it for years but never done it,sony MS and nintendo want the money for themselves and dont want to share it with the PC component makers.

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

 @MADPADDY idk. Everybody has PCs, that's why companies like Blizzard shot at a level of graphics that even crappy PCs can play on alot of games. I currently see PC as being more open than console, but not as wild west as Linux. Valve might almost have to roll their own steam distro like Android. Devs will benefit because in the future when they get clout, they don't need to pay publishers fees--so like the Devs of Minecraft get 100% of the profits minus what they pay to Visa for credit card transactions. I don't know what Microsofts plans are honestly. Maybe Xbox will be the super powered box for games, while the PC will morph into Surface Tablets and Surface desktops (now known as PixelSense). I'd do most gaming on Xbox, most reading and browsing on my tablet, and the heavy stuff I'd do on my 42" Surface desktop. It would be in Microsofts interest to kill PC gaming if they wanted to direct their business elsewhere they can reap profits. As it stands, Microsoft only makes money when you buy their software, that's how Apple became more profitable than them. I disagree in thinking it doesn't benefit the devs, there is plenty benefit, it just doesn't benefit Microsoft. Intel/AMD/Nvidia will always be a part of it, even if it cuts out OEMs. If there were a more unified structure, someone has to benefit either Valve, Microsoft, or somebody. It'd benefit devs and consumers most I agree.

Darksiders II More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 2 more
    • Wii U
    • Xbox 360
    Darksiders II follows the exploits of DEATH, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, in a weaving tale that runs parallel to the events in the original Darksiders game.
    8.3
    Average User RatingOut of 1900 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Darksiders II
    Developed by:
    Vigil Games
    Published by:
    THQ, Spike Chunsoft
    Genres:
    Adventure, Action, 3D, Open-World
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Violence