At first glance Darksiders (aka Darksiders: The Wrath of War) looked to me just like any other 3rd person adventure hack and slash. In fact in the first level or so there is nothing more to it, but after that the game really picks up and gets interesting. I was mostly drawn in by its great setting that takes place in a post-Armageddon world. You take the role of War, who is one of the four horsemen of Apocalypse, and both angels and demons deem you as an enemy. War is now on an errand to clear his name and to attempt to restore the balance.
The art style and the environments I thought were really beautiful. There are some really stunning locations in the game, and the characters no doubt were well-developed and interesting. All this greatly helped to enhance the atmosphere in the game.
As I mentioned already, the game’s first level is just a preview and seems average, but shortly after that is when things start to get much more interesting. That's when your character starts to learn new moves, making combat very fun and engaging. In addition you get some new weapons as well, like the Scythe, for more crowd control, and also a Tremor Gauntlet, if you fancy power punching. Among all the combat, the boss fights especially stood out for me. Each and every boss fight was both challenging and enjoyable at the same time and this is perhaps the game's biggest strength in my opinion. The cool cutscenes and the special kills were an icing on the cake.
Although there are so many good things about this game that make it incredibly fun and engaging, I also have several criticisms. First of all, the PC version is not exactly a very good console port. The keyboard and mouse control scheme was more or less playable, but it's the fact that you couldn't change graphics options apart from resolution that was really disappointing. Of course this isn't much of a problem for someone with a powerful PC, but for those of us with average machines, even on low resolution there is a noticeable drop in framerate in some areas of the game, making it quite stuttery.
Another thing that I disliked - some areas were just a bit too long, like the Hollows and the Ashlands. Not sure whose bright idea it was that the sewers and the desert are good candidates for lengthy levels, since those usually tend to be amongst the most boring of the environments in any game. The Black Throne level was perhaps the biggest offender. Although it was a very beautiful level with some cool battles, it had way too much backtracking and also made you do the same thing 3 times!
All the other areas seemed to be pretty great though. My personal favourite would probably have to be Twilight Cathedral. It was very moody, atmospheric, and had a good balance between fights and puzzles. I also really enjoyed the part that was leading up to it where you had to fly over the destroyed city and some parts of the lava caverns on top of an angelic beast.
My last criticism would be towards the puzzles, in particular those in the Black Throne level. Although there were some great puzzles in the game, some others were a lot less fun. They weren't hard exactly - you could figure out most of them right away. It's just that to execute those solutions usually took too long, requiring too much running and jumping about, as well as tonnes of trial and error, and hence that was breaking the pace of the game.
All the criticisms I mentioned stand quite strong for me and I guess if I wasn't so charmed by the game's setting, art style, and combat mechanics, I probably would've gotten less enjoyment out of it. Overall the game is highly entertaining and worth checking out. I can’t wait to start the second one.
My rating: 9/10