Video Game Review: Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition
The dead do not suffer the living.
Originally released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox 360 all the way back in 2012, Darksiders II was one of the final games from THQ before it went under later that year. The game got a second life a few years later via Nordic Games (now THQ Nordic) when it re-emerged on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as the Deathinitive Edition. Now, some four years after hitting those consoles, Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition is arriving on the Nintendo Switch. And THQ Nordic wept, for there were no more ports to conquer…
After controlling War in the original, the sequel focuses on one of the other Four Horsemen, Death. 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 as you alternate between light strikes and heavier attacks with your secondary weapons such as giant axes or hammers.
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 and start spamming an attack halfway through, Death will go completely bonkers and dice everything in his path. It all feels snappy and rewarding.
With the beautifully constructed combat system out of the way, there’s something 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 — that’s due in large part to the way Death moves through the world and how quickly he scrambles up objects, which makes it too easy to push him to the wrong side for a jump.
Constantly readjusting the camera can also become an issue, particularly when playing the Switch as a handheld because of the small screen and the way your hands are spread across the system. There is a lock-on feature, but that can present its own problems when facing multiple foes.
Given that the game was originally released in 2012, you can expect that Darksiders II: DE won’t drop your jaw. That being said, the original was already a nice looking game and it has been spruced up with improved textures and a stabler frame rate. In handheld mode it looks like a high-end Vita title, which is pretty cool.
Weapons and armour sets not only affect your stats but are actually unique visual components as well, so Death, who is already a bad ass, just gets more and more bad ass as you play. Although textures have been upscaled, some environments tend to feel sterile or empty, as the upgraded textures don’t mesh all that 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 outcroppings and even do a Hayabusa-esque wall-jump, and it all looks awesome — it reminded us of Raziel from Legacy of Kain in how he negotiates obstacles.
When exploring, the music does a great job of shifting from quasi-peaceful to pounding, suspenseful measures 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, “Hmmmm, that sounds a lot like Ocarina of Time.” That would be a pretty accurate assessment, too, because Darksiders II does indeed feel like a game firmly rooted in the same values as the famed Legend of 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. Instead, they feel just the right length and complexity when interspersed 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 employ your Wrath (think of it like 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 endeavour. All told, you can expect to spend upwards of 20 hours playing through the story.
If you didn’t get around to playing Darksiders II before now, you would do well to check this out as it’s arguably the best of the existing trilogy. Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition not only includes the wonderful base game, but all of the DLC packs as well. It’s a lot of quality content at a reasonable price.