A return to face the forces of heaven and hell in Darksiders II, this time as the Horseman Death out to try and prove his brother Wars innocence of beginning the Apocalypse early. Sadly, this game was among the last to release by THQ, and the horseman definitely appeared as the company died, however the game itself was not the reason. Being much more well known than the series original game, DS2 had a much better reception.
While I often compared Darksiders to Zelda, DS2 has left this a bit, and more closely resembles Prince of Persia now, although that is by no means the entirety of it. The combat system has had a complete overhaul which I feel is more to it’s detriment. As opposed to the simplicity of its predecessor DS2 uses RPG elements, requiring you to put more thought into your weapons and clothing and giving you the choice to choose weapons with extra damage effects such as fire and shock damage. In addition to this there is the ability to mod your weapons. This can only be done to ‘possessed’ weapons which are incredibly rare, but is actually a very effective and robust system, allowing you to feed other weapons to them in order to upgrade and add extra weapon effects. Feeding a possessed weapon a lot of other items with frost damage and you can add that effect when the weapon levels up.
The game has taken a much more open-world style than the original, using a number of large maps which can be free-roamed. This gives Deaths Horse; Despair; much more necessity than Ruin ever had for War, and also allows for a number of side quests as well as the story. There are a number of these different maps, for different realms through which Death travels, from that of the ‘makers’, to outposts of Heaven and Hell. Each realm has a very different feel about it, and atmospherically, have some absolutely fantastic creations in them. The makers realm for instance is quite bright and flowery feeling, and ends up quite immersing you in their world, only to make it all the worse when you are torn away to the dreariness of the land of the dead.
I felt the game was lacking a lot more of the actual puzzle sections, replaced more by platforming sections which I’ve already likened to Prince of Persia due to the similar wallrunning areas. These are definitely a lot less frustrating than some of the puzzles were in Darksiders, but does mean that larger sections of the game can be done considerably quicker, leaving this one feeling smaller despite its much improved size.
Deaths arsenal seems to be a bit smaller than War had, and doesn’t use the Zelda style of ‘one new item every dungeon’. Some items are similar, such as Deaths Grip, which is a new take on the Abyssal Chain, instead using spirit arms to pull Death towards certain hooks. The Voidwalker from the first game also receives an interesting upgrade: The Phasewalker, which allows Death to travel through time in set areas in order to bypass obstacles in the current era. It’s quite similar to the Spirit Temples puzzle in Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but is portrayed a lot more fluidly.
It’s definitely a good game, but I feel it would be more of a good game in its own right. Darksiders 2 has strayed quite far from what made the original great, and I feel it may have alienated a few of its fans from that. It seems closer to a spinoff, or a development by a different team, but that doesn’t make it a bad game. It’s still highly enjoyable, maybe even better than the first for some people, but I’m not one of them. I don’t regret the game at all, although I will be taking a small delay before playing the NG+, and I will still be looking forward to DS3 if it should come along, but for continuity I just don’t think this is quite my game.