Let's be honest, the premise of impersonating one of the horsemen of the apocalypse is likely enough to make a game worth at least a passing glance. In the case of the Darksiders franchise, this premise has been utilized by two pretty well received and known titles. The second one came out in 2012 and received decent critiques. The title did not reach the heights of its predecessor, but it was a game that many players loved nonetheless. Now with Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition, Nordic Games have picked up the heritage of THQ, polishing up the graphics and overhauling some of the mechanics in the process.
Darksiders 2 takes place shortly after the end of the original game, where War was unjustly accused of prematurely unleashing the apocalypse before due time. This condemned humanity and put the balance of the universe in danger. At the end of the game (which I will not spoil here), the other three horsemen were summoned. We take the role of Death in Darksiders 2, in his quest of saving his brother's life from execution. He can't prove his innocence so he'll have to settle for the second best thing: restoring the human race and therefore the balance.
The story of Darksiders 2 has its moments and a few interesting characters, but as a whole lacks the feeling of disbelief and excitement that permeated War's storyline. The main problem with the storytelling is that it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere, with your actions as a player failing to have an impact. It lacks plot twists or interesting events to keep the player hooked, and even the final cliffhanger feels like it falls a bit too short.
Storytelling may not be the best part of the game, but the real meat of Darksiders 2 is the mix of combat, exploration and puzzles. All of these aspects take place in huge environments. The second chapter took a slightly less linear approach to the exploration compared to its predecessor. You have vast spaces between a dungeon and the next where you can explore the environment and try to discover secrets and side quests. This kind of approach to exploration is similar to how Ocarina of Time did it and it works really well here. The outstanding art design can leave you breathless when you ride in the giant plains of the Forge Lands admiring the amazing view that lies in front of you. The dungeons and inside levels (where you'll spend most of the game) are rich with finely adorned details.
In the game you'll find yourself in various settings, including the destroyed Earth, Heaven and Hell. Each of these settings feels very different from the others. The art direction goes along perfectly with the awesome level design and you'll often feel overwhelmed, especially when your character is minuscule compared to his surroundings. The only remark one can direct to the level design, is that some environments may feel too similar from level to level. You'll often be in a position where you'll have to complete a number of puzzles in separate rooms of a dungeon in order to unlock the door to proceed, and these rooms often look really similar to each other.
On the topic of puzzles, I hope you like those because there are a lot to go through here. Darksiders 2 is filled with environmental puzzles. They are so many that sometimes combat will feel less like a part of the game and more like a break between one puzzle and the next. Luckily, the environmental puzzles are very well designed, and in many instances really challenging. The problem is that many people probably would expect a more action filled title, especially considering the sequel was way more centered around combat than the second title. In the end, it's a matter of taste of the player, but Darksiders 2 is your kryptonite if you don't like environmental puzzles.
The combat system is not hugely complicated but it's really rewarding. Combos give a great feedback and can be chained to each other with minimal effort for great variety. Let's be frank, you can learn how to effectively use three or four good combos and let them carry you to the end of the game. Despite that, you'll find yourself trying new moves and weapons, chaining them together for the sole reason that the visual feedback is astounding. Death can cancel any move and dodge on the side while attacking with his scythes and secondary weapons. You can choose to wield axes, hammers, fist weapons, or giant swords, and each category has their own movesets.
Mixing all these combos together tends to produce great results. You can feel the result of your button mashing in what you see and what you hear. You can also use the spells and skills you unlocked by leveling up the main character to add them to the mix and ultimately unleash your Reaper form to annihilate everything in front of you. The combat system will make every fight a joy to play despite its simplicity. Controls are responsive during both fights and exploration, and you can use either a gamepad or mouse and keyboard to play with no noticeable inaccuracies in the movements of Death.
Darksiders 2 is a pretty good game. This has been known for a while considering it originally released years ago. The question in 2015 is more concerning the Deathinitive Edition and whether it is worth its salt? The answer is yes and no. The Deathinitive Edition did not change a lot about the game at its core, but it did introduce a few interesting novelties that made the game new again and could perhaps make old players pick it up again.
The most notable change is the graphics overhaul. At the end of the day, this means that the game now runs at native 1080p and has higher resolution textures instead of the 720p of the original game. The change for the better is noticeable but nothing to make you leave your mouth open about. The game runs mostly fine even though it's capped at 60 FPS. The original game had some stuttering and frame rate problems that made the game annoying to play for many people. While I did not notice considerable frame rate drops, there definitely still are some stuttering issues especially in the first quarter of the game.
In the Deathinitive Edition, the loot system has been improved. One of the main complaints that players had with this system in Darksiders 2 is that Death's inventory was quickly filled with junk and that led to a lot of annoying inventory management time. In the Deathinitive Edition, the drops are less frequent but much more interesting. Old and new legendary equipment makes its appearance and you have the option to feed your useless equipment to your possessed weapons. These are weapons that you can offer other items to in sacrifice in order to make them level up, ultimately acquiring stats upgrades of your choice. Very useful especially in the late game when money has little use outside of buying potions.
One thing that many expected from the Deathinitive Edition wasn't present, namely fixes for some of the bugs and glitches that plagued the original game. One of the most notorious ones is a glitch that prevented you from beating The Guardian boss fight. Back in the day many players took a long time to realize that something was off. That glitch is still present in the Deathinitive Edition and it requires you to restart the game in order to beat the boss. Another one is a crash to desktop that happens to some people (yours truly included) during a main story cutscene. The only way to bypass that glitch is to complete a completely unrelated side quest before triggering the event. There also have been a couple of crash to desktop moments at random times that seem to me to be related to a memory leak. In another instance, I had the camera stuck in aim mode while I was testing the keyboard controls. I also found a chest with legendary equipment in it that was not added to my inventory despite the tooltip with the description of the received loot popping up. All in all, annoying bugs and glitches that are really not excusable in a remaster of a three years old title.
The game is pretty lengthy. The main story mode can go from fifteen to thirty hours depending on the amount of side content you're willing to skip. Some side quests are really interesting, so you may want to take your time and explore. At the end of the main story, you'll have the DLC campaigns to play that are included in the package and are unlocked at certain points of the campaign.
In conclusion, Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition is worth picking up if you never played the original game. If you already completed Death's path to his brother's redemption, maybe you should think twice since the Deathinitive Edition does not really add all that much to the mix.
This game has been purchased by the reviewer and reviewed on PC via Steam. A copy of the game had been provided by the publisher and was given to another writer that found themselves unable to complete the review.