It's been 6 years since players got to experience the original Darksiders. Despite critical praise and a cult following, the Darksiders series never got much more attention than some of its competitors. It also didn't help that the original publisher, THQ, shut it's doors in 2013. However, thanks to Nordic Games (now rebranded THQ Nordic), the series seems to be having a second lease on life. With Darksiders II already remastered last year, It was pretty obvious it wouldn't be long before the original would get the remaster treatment.
If you've never played the original, you play War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. War arrives on earth where the final battle appears to have begun; with armies of angels and demons waging war, and mankind caught in the middle. However, it turns out he's been prematurely summoned and is framed for kick-starting the apocalypse too early. War is now on a quest to restore balance to the world and clear his name. It's a mostly predictable story, but it's told well enough to keep things going for its 20-hour adventure and to give context to what you're doing.
Darksiders goes full force; kicking and screaming for the first hour or two of gameplay. You'll start off killing enemies in hoards, before the game starts to calm down and is able to concentrate on what makes it so compelling. The problem is that there's too much of it within this time frame. Darksiders feels like it's trying too hard in this time to show how overly bad-ass it is, that it can come off as somewhat insecure with itself. Once it does, it slowly starts to mix its brand of gameplay incredibly well.
Obvious similarities and comparisons to both God of War and The Legend of Zelda are unavoidable. War is able to brutally slaughter foes in bloody, satisfying ways, much like Kratos, and is forced to partake in Dungeons that require you to solve puzzles like Nintendo's green tunic-wearing Hero of Time. While it's easy to call Darksiders just a rip-off, It does all these elements so well, that the lack of originality does little to take away from the overall enjoyment of the game. Sure the early hours try too hard to show off the game's combat system, but once you get into your first dungeon, the game starts to really kick in to gear.
The puzzles are thoughtfully laid out and never manage to cause too much of a headache. Very few puzzles are ever repeated, keeping things interesting and varied throughout. As you progress, you'll gain items that are needed to progress further and they're mostly fun to use. Some of them include a Chain for swinging around, a Giant Shrunken, and even a Handgun. Like in Zelda, you'll have to use these items to solve the game numerous puzzles.
Darksiders' combat isn't as deep as some other action games, but it is still satisfying. Similar to God of War, the combat is bloody, with mythical enemies halting your progress. After a few strikes, you'll be allowed to press the Circle button to kill them in an over-the-top finishing move. It starts out fun, but can slowly become repetitive in its first hour, though it does pick up as it slowly becomes less of a focus point. The only other weapon you get is a Scythe . As you progress, you gain souls that you use to buy better gear, magic, and combos.
Along with Dungeons and Enemies, War must deal with giant boss battles. These fights are more spectacle than anything else, but they're still a blast to fight. Following its Zelda structure, bosses mostly follow its procedures of "using the item you got in the dungeon."
While the core experience is solid, it wouldn't be surprising that some would find the game somewhat derivative. Despite playing well, just don't expect Darksiders to bring that much new to the table.
In terms of looks, Darksiders' art-style still holds up strong. The unique and somewhat cartoonish characters and environments look great, thanks to former Marvel Comic Book Artist Joe Madureira, working as one of the games' lead artists. The remaster also gets rid of the screen tearing that the original suffered from and increase the game's frame rate to 60FPS, while increasing the resolution to 1080p. It should be noted that the game supports PS4 Pro's 4K option, but a standard PS4 was used for this review. The only real downside to the presentation is the lip-syncing found in the PS4 version, that wasn't in the original PS3/360 versions of the game. It's incredibly jarring and can take you out of the experience. Hopefully this will be patched out but, as it stands, it's incredibly distracting.
The Audio is equally strong, containing an orchestral score that's epic one minute and quickly turns horrific. The voice work is equally strong, with actors delivering their lines with grandiose results. Special highlights include Mark Hamill as the demonic Watcher and Phil LaMarr as the equally devious merchant. You also better be a fan of Troy Baker's work, 'cause he's all over this game.
While Darksiders might not have gotten the attention that is deserved, this remaster at least gives it a chance for more people to become more exposed to it. It may not be a masterpiece, but Darksiders should at least be experienced once. This version might include a few issues, but it's still a fun game, at its core. Hopefully, we'll get more of the Darksiders series in the future.
|+ Excellent voice talent||– Lip Sync|
|+ Great Art-Style||– Opening hour|
|+ Solid mechanics||– Some might find it derivative|
|+ Smart Puzzle Solving|