Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: Nordic Games
Release Date: November 5th, 2015
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Xbox One, PS4
Both of the Darksiders games are among some of my favorite. The blend between God of War and Dark Souls in the second installment in the franchise made for one of the best experiences I’ve had in respect to the genre it finds itself in. Darksider II originally released on August 14, 2012 on PC, and now three years later, the game has been pushed to meet the criteria of the current generation in gaming hardware. The Deathinitive Edition of Darksiders II didn’t deliver the same level of excitement I once had for this three year old game.
For those of you who haven’t been introduced to the Darksiders universe, the story can be a bit daunting at first. While the idea of taking control of one of The Four Horsemen is fairly straightforward, the motive behind the slaughtering is sometimes hard to find, and generally boils down to keeping the balance of power in order. To be clear, Darksiders II isn’t a sequel plot wise. Rather, the game parallels the original Darksiders, this time focusing on the horseman Death instead of War. It was a nice to step into the shoes of a darker protagonist who is a little more agile and gothic than his warrior counterpart.
The combat in Darksiders II has proven to be some of the most fun I’ve had slicing beasts and humans into pieces. The combos are easily accessible and incredibly varied, adding to the majestic displays of sword play (or in this case scythe play). Executing these combinations leaves that warm feeling inside like you just pulled off something unheard of. Few games have matched this level of effectiveness in combat, and the only comparable titles I can think of are the Batman: Arkham games. Dodging, slicing, jumping, and finishing are all intertwined to perfection and creates some of the most dynamic and interesting combat that I have ever played.
Thankfully, Darksiders II isn’t all combat focused, sidestepping an easy pitfall. Outside of slicing and dicing, you’ll guide Death through some Uncharted style platforming and integrated role-playing elements. There are a variety of upgradable skills and leveling system in place. The platforming is buckets of fun, but not nearly as tuned as the combat. While climbing up massive mountain sides was certainly breathtaking, there was quite a few times I fell to my death (kind of ironic, I thought) simply because I couldn’t see what was happening on screen. This flaw certainly doesn’t render the game useless, but it was a blemish that could use touching up.
Speaking of touching up, the Deathinitive Edition has been overhauled from the original release. The resolution is now native 1080p (thankfully something that doesn’t affect us PC gamers), and also has noticeable texture and graphic upgrades. There was also some rebalancing of combat and loot. While the list of improvements is decent, particularly compared to the original release, they don’t seem to really seem to bring value to the price point the game sits at. The balancing and improved graphics should have just been free updates, not a re release of a title three years later.
The graphical update does serve the game well. Environments are huge and the shure size of them is guaranteed to render amazement. However, the grey and purple color scheme is hard to escape, and while it certainly is unique, it becomes dull very quickly.
To the game’s credit, Darksider II: Deathinitive Edition includes all the DLC released for the game, something that seems justified with the asking price of $29.99. However, the original Darksiders II has been removed from Steam, as well as the DLC, so unless you own the entire Darksiders franchise pack, you’ll be paying full price for DLC you may already own. This is a horrid business move and something that shouldn’t be tolerated in an industry notorious for shady business practices. Even if you own both titles, a season pass, and multiple pieces of DLC, you will still have to shell out $29.99 in order to get something that should be a free update.
The soundtrack matches this scale, sounding as large as the terrain. The scores are sharp and forward, letting you know just how much of a badass you are. However, the voice acting lose this feeling very quickly. The voices of all the characters are one-sided, the only variety being the lines they’re speaking. While a lot of games fall into this trap, it would be nice to see a little more attention to detail spent on the voice acting considering a large chunk of the game will be spent in conversations with NPCs.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Everything about Darksiders II as a game is great. The combat, story, graphics, progression, everything marks up to be an experience that is pure fun. Combat is some of the best I’ve ever seen and the changes in gameplay break this game out of the shackles of being tied to a single genre. However, none of these core features have changed between 2012 and now, leaving the only drawing factor of the Deathinitive Edition being a cash grab. It’s pathetic that players who has served as the backbone of this game have to shell out even more cash to get in on features that new players can take for granted.
If you have never played the Darksiders games then I highly suggest you look around to find them cheap. However, I would not support this edition at full price. While Darksiders II is amazing, a fresh logo for features that have already been paid for do not justify the asking price and question the ethics of this developer and publisher. For $29.99, Darksider II: Deathinitive Edition is a waste of money.