Best of 2012 #9: Darksiders II

Darksiders III hold up the Darksiders series as an example of the kind of game we don’t get any more. Both the games are solid, fun, polished B-tier adventures loaded with content of the sort that was ten-a-penny a generation or two ago, but the way the middle ground of developers has fallen out with increasing budgets required for a project of this size means it doesn’t happen any more.

Sadly, Darksiders II may end up going down as an example of why this is a dying breed. Unrealistic sales required to turn a profit coupled with THQ’s precarious finances will likely put paid to future instalments. A shame. But at least we have an Assassin’s Creed game every year to scratch that adventuring itch, right? Hey, come back!

Putting aside my opinion that a healthy industry needs more games like this, Darksiders II was a great game. Derivative, yes – it’s Zelda with Prince of Persia’s platforming and a loot system, essentially – but polished. It’s not as good as the original, though. I went through them back to back, and in that circumstance it’s glaring how the tight, focused adventure of Darksiders gave way to a stretched, bloated quest; the first world of Darksiders II is packed with things to do, and subsequent ones become increasingly sparse as you get the impression that the realities of having to populate a world this big caught up with the realities of Vigil’s ambitions and budget.

And then you hit Earth: one of the most ill-advised changes of tack in gaming history that would have been annoying even if it had been competently designed.

But this feature is about games I liked, damn it, so I need to stop being so negative. I really did like Darksiders II, despite the impression that the last couple of paragraphs might have given you, and it will be tragic if this is another planned series that got me invested before leaving me high and dry after only two. God, I’m having flashbacks.

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