Darksiders II takes place at the same time as the events in Darksiders and is the second bulky tome in the action adventure series of the same name. Earth has fallen and humanity has all but been erased in the war between Angels and Demons. The events of the previous episode are conveniently summarised by the eloquent narrator who will save you the trouble of playing Darksiders, a worthy game that I have also reviewed. Darksiders II lets you play Death, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, out to save his brother War (played in Darksiders) and to resurrect humanity. Riding Despair, his loyal flame engulfed steed, and guided by his raven Dust, Death fights a path through countless dungeons, somersault hungry puzzles, and booming conversations with grandiloquent characters. Hidden chests and loot aplenty also await.
Playability: Unforgiving trudge
Even on easy setting, Darksiders II is unforgiving of keyboard and mouse mishaps. The puzzles are fairly straightforward to figure out once you’ve run around the same corridors a few times. Your carrion crow usually points out in the right direction (grab that ledge, run along this wall, roll the big stone ball…). But the implementation of the solution usually requires fine mouse, keyboard, fingers and eyes coordination. Although a controller helps a little, Darksiders II is hardcore gaming that will require you to jump again and again, and higher and higher. Frustration builds up as the game’s rough edges distracts from an overall user friendly interface complete with in-game tips, fast travel (so you won’t have to retrace your steps) and multiple checkpoints.
Annoyance: Bugs, crashes and rinse
Darksiders II is an ambitious game with rushed out imperfections. The contrast between the scope and impressive achievements of the game, and its persistent bugs and crashes is jarring. If only… Darksiders II could have been, should have been part of legendary gaming, instead it leaves you sweating for the next obnoxious bug that will require a restart: bars that don’t retract, levers that don’t switch, muted sounds, lips that don’t synchronise, camera that doesn’t rotate, jumps stuck in mid air and even the occasional blue screen of Death. One minute you’re wreaking havoc in your clunky fearsome armour, supported by superlative symphonic music, the next instant, a crash makes you realise this is just a game. Darksiders II was the swan song of Vigil Games and THQ which filed for bankruptcy soon after its release. The 2015 Deathfinitive experience irons out many of the original creepy crawlers but remains far from perfect coding.
Beauty: Expansive vistas and colourful gods
Darksiders II has gorgeous cinematography. Heroic, larger than life and grand, the sceneries, vistas and characters truly fill your eyes and your mind with vast expanses and dreams. The voice acting is varied and the hero runs with a propos. The soundtrack is an equally diverse music mix of rhythmic symphonic pop rock that will prop you up should your courage fail. From lush forests to arid steps, to the fallen cities of humanity, Darksiders II takes you on a whirlwind journey across worlds.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: An epic slog 7/10
Darksiders II is a long game, packed with content (and unfortunately also replete with glitches). There are great opportunities to experience luminous chapters with dazzling visuals, epic storytelling and larger than life creatures. However, hiccups along the way tarnish a superlative production that eventually meanders about. Merciless gameplay will require patient hardcore gaming to complete this lengthy adventure.