Review: Darksiders II – Wii U edition

Darksiders2-2012-08-26-17-47-00-70[1]

darksiders_2-1280x800[1]As a huge fan of both comic books and the original Darksiders I’ve wanted to give its sequel another shot. Could the Wii U port could offer the experience I’d long hoped for? Will this second dalliance with Death take me to Heaven or be another slow trip through Hell?

Revisiting Joe Madureira’s crazy apocalyptic universe in Darksiders II has been an interesting experience to say the least and felt a bit bizarre. Though my opinions of the game haven’t changed all that much, my replay has offered me another chance to analyze what it had to offer and also take a closer look at what it failed to deliver.

BRING IT!

BRING IT!

For those who didn’t play the first game the Darksiders franchise takes place in a really awesome world. The story centres around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War, the first game’s protagonist, was called to Earth to discover Judgment day has begun and he has been framed for bringing it about. War is unceremoniously stripped of all power and cast out, left to play detective and uncover what has happened.

Darksiders II focuses on Death, War’s brother, whose storyline runs parallel to the first game. Death hears about War’s crimes and sets out using any means necessary to revive mankind and clear War’s name. Though the set-up could lead to any manner of open world adventure, this storyline leads the game to be intensely linear. Every step of this long journey feels like one big fetch quest. With such a predominant focus on an amazing story arc, the gameplay in between feels stretched out and forced, almost just going through the motions.

On a positive note, Vigil Games has spent a lot of time working on the combat. Though similar to the orignal, Death is faster and more visceral than his brother War and the introduction of role-playing game (RPG) elements allow players to better customize their fighting style and damage dealing.

Unfortunately too much customization with little to no difference to the experience is a double-edged sword. Using a hammer or a sword doesn’t change the gruelling nature of tremendous amount of level grinding forced upon you. Combat is beyond repetitive. After only a few hours any interest in the game faded and no matter how gripping the story may be it’s hard to shake the obvious rinse, lather and repeat nature to the combat and level design.

Grr!

Freeze!

The first game’s environments were interesting with some amazingly unique locations. Darksiders II is a little too busy pushing the idea of scale instead.  Areas are usually set a considerable distance apart leaving Death trekking for miles before getting anywhere. The environments are drab and empty removing any enjoyment felt by exploring. Bigger is always necessarily better. Each level  involves a bunch of puzzles, some ‘clear to complete’ combat areas and end with a boss battle. The entire experience becomes a trudge and you’ll end up forcing yourself onwards to find the next piece of the story.

The Wii U does offer one awesome feature. Darksiders II can be played on either the TV or the touch-screen pad itself and despite a bit of screen tearing it transfers quite nicely with onto the smaller screen. Also the title comes out of the box with almost all of the downloadable content (DLC) included to date for those looking for the complete Darksiders II package.

Little known fact, Death is also unbeatable at burping contests

Little known fact, Death is unbeatable at burping contests

Unfortunately, more than a few small tweaks were needed to repair the lackluster uphill hike it offers. Fans of the series will find nothing here that you could find on the other platforms other than a few extra hours of quests. For Wii U only owners who have exhausted all their launch title option, this will offer you a tonne of gameplay to fight your way through. Darksiders II could have been a super fun on par with God of War epic but flimsy design and repetition have left it coming off weak, doomed to be forgotten. Play it only if you are desperate.

6 / 10

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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