Re-masters and HD releases are so common these days. Some are completely unexpected (I’m looking at you, Legend of Kay: Anniversary), whilst others are justified releases that deserve another look after previous success. Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition falls somewhere in between; whilst the series has been well received critically, it hasn’t always matched that success in sales.
Publishers Nordic Games saw an opportunity here though and are giving fans the chance to show that we deserve a new Darksiders title – the success of Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition could be the difference between a new release and the series entering its own state of undeserved purgatory.
The story follows on from the first Darksiders release – original hero and member of the Four Horsemen, War, has been charged with the crime of destroying humanity. This time around you take the role of War’s brother and fellow Horseman, Death. Death believes War to be innocent and goes on a quest to not only prove so, but also resurrect humanity at the same time.
You’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition if you’ve played through the previous title, though it isn’t essential. The story takes plenty of twists and turns that’ll keep you entertained, whilst also containing a colourful cast that are full of character. It’s just unfortunate that the game ends on such a cliff-hanger; whilst this re-mastered release may help warrant a new title and a conclusion to the story, it certainly doesn’t guarantee it.
Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition almost perfectly epitomises the phrase ‘jack of all trades’ with its gameplay – it features God Of War style combat, Prince of Persia style manoeuvrability and an overall vibe akin to a darker entry of The Legend Of Zelda. There are even RPG elements with a levelling up and loot system – there’s certainly something on offer for fans of multiple genres.
Whilst you’ll bear arms to a wide arsenal of weapons by the end of the game, Death is initially armed with twin scythes and pistol. Utilising a combination of close and ranged combat, you have a variety of attacks to wipe out your hellish foes with. Mixing up heavy and light attacks, attacking from distance or hitting the air and unleashing destruction from above – there’s plenty of different combinations to master as you fight your way to victory. It’s all very satisfying and the game does a great job of making you feel powerful – rightfully so in your role as the most powerful of the Four Horsemen.
The levelling up and loot system plays a major role in combat. Defeating enemies and progressing through the game will unlock exp that can be used to make Death all the more powerful – there’s a variety of stat boosts and new skills to unlock. You’ll constantly be finding loot from fallen enemies too, offering new equipment and weapons. Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition contains all previously released DLC, so any weapons and equipment that came after the original release are included throughout the main game – a nice extra for returning players who missed out on the DLC the first time around.
Level design is fantastic, having you traversing both vertically and horizontally through a variety of obstacles. Similar to Prince of Persia, you’ll not only be climbing high walls but running along them too. There seems to be no limits to Death’s manoeuvrability, though some skills come in time – if you see something you can’t quite reach yet, chances are you’ll be able to later in the game when you unlock the appropriate skill.
There’s an abundance of puzzles too, coming in many varieties. There are no real head-scratchers though – I never found myself completely baffled or stuck at any point. Whilst this could be attributed to my ‘pro’ gaming skills, it could also be due to the fact that Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition doesn’t really try anything new in that respect.
Whilst you have a lot of flexibility with exploration, it does feel at times like you simply have to follow the fixed path the game wants you to. It’s not really a problem – it just takes away from the sense of freedom offered in some of the game’s more open areas.
These open areas are large – fortunately you’ll be travelling through them on your trusty steed, Despair. Similar to The Legend Of Zelda, these open areas interconnect all the dungeons you’ll be visiting throughout the game. There’s a ton of optional exploration on offer too, though – you’ll find a plethora of collectibles, treasure chests and of course, side quests. Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition certainly offers you plenty of content, my playthrough lasting over twenty hours before completion.
The upgrade to current-gen consoles sees Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition run at 1080p making it the best looking version of the game. Whilst the improvement in visuals is clear, the fact this is a last-gen title is telling. It’s not ugly by any means, but you can tell the visuals don’t offer the quality seen in newer releases.
Whilst the resolution sees an improvement, the frame rate is locked at 30fps. It’s a shame that the frame-rate doesn’t hit 60fps, especially seeing as this is a three year old title. Unfortunately, there are also moments where the frame rate dips a little below the 30fps mark. It’s not game breaking though, and certainly won’t take away from your overall enjoyment.
As I said at the start of this review, it’s a little surprising to see Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition. It shows that Nordic Games thinks that there’s a place for the Darksiders franchise on modern consoles though, and that can only be a good thing.
With varied combat, plenty of exploration and creative puzzles, Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition offers something for everybody. It doesn’t do everything perfectly, but it’ll certainly keep you entertained through its lengthy adventure. If you missed out the first time around, do yourself a favour and buy the game. Played the game before? Give it another whirl – if the low price point isn’t enough to justify a re-play, perhaps the prospect of supporting a third Darksiders is…
– Enjoyable ‘jack of all trades’ gameplay
– Absolutely jam-packed with content to play through
– Great in-depth levelling and loot system
– Story ends on a whimper
– A few small technical issues
Format Reviewed: Xbox One