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Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC) artwork

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC) review


"A big budget love letter (in perhaps the best way possible)"


Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC) image

Let's face it: Darksiders is a big budget love letter. It pays homage to a handful of action-adventure video games, particularly Devil May Cry, God of War and Ocarina of Time. You take the role of a stoic, expressionless antihero--War, of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse--who cuts up angels and demons with slick moves, possesses an impressive array of gadgets that help him clear obstacles, explores dungeons loaded with environmental puzzles and uses his enemies' souls to purchase upgrades.

Did I mention that Darksiders also features a demonic horse for you to ride? A companion who, when summoned, offers hints and reminds you of your current mission? Saturday morning cartoon-like voice acting, as seen in late '90s/early 2000s video games? This isn't the game you select when you're looking for a thoughtful story or a relaxing stroll. It's a true-blue remembrance of a bygone era, bereft of pretentious storytelling and packed with as much ass-kicking as any descendant of the aforementioned Capcom classic ought to be. Either you'll love the concept and stick around to give it a whirl, or it'll sound too old-fashioned for you and you'll forgo it entirely. I won't judge your decision either way...

But let's say you do give this one a try, and that you've settled on its enhanced Warmastered Edition. Now not only can you play the original adventure, but also blast through it with optimized animation and 4k support, plus completely re-rendered cutscenes. Finer details stand out more clearly, and smaller patterns and designs appear more intricate than before. Sadly, though, the screen has a tendency to tear whenever you rotate the camera. Thankfully, that issue is purely cosmetic, but it's nonetheless unsightly.

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC) image

Outside of the game's bleak, crumbling world exist whole armies of good and evil waiting for you to cut them up. With quick slices and deft punches, you punish both the wicked and the righteous while racking up a combo counter. Each successful kill nets you some souls, which you can then spend on new techniques, upgrades and consumables. Plus, once you've worn the opposition down, button prompts let you know when it's time to brutally dismember them, a la God of War. This is a pretty standard system, but it's nonetheless wonderful because it serves two types of players. Those who want to engage in simple, straightforward fights may opt to stick with their favorite combo, and still manage to come out on top more often than not. Darksiders' battles are not so deep that they demand complicated maneuvers from you. However, if that's how you roll, the game provides you with numerous special attacks across three weapon types, allowing you string together crazy combinations of crippling blows.

This is not to say that Darksiders is a mindless button masher. Sure, you'll encounter plenty of simplistic scenes, where carving zombies and slicing low rank foes amounts to pressing attack buttons thirty or so times without flinching. However, as you advance, your adversaries pull off impressive strikes of their own, prompting you to dash out of the way, block or riposte. Enemies aksi love to use blatant tells before executing devastating attacks, so it's best to pay attention and not just shut off your brain.

Combat is wonderful and all, but it's hardly the strongest point here. Rather, Darksiders' dungeons claim the grand prize. That might not seem to be the case at first, as each dungeon is fairly linear. Every stage utilizes closed doors and unique obstacles in such a way as to lead you to your next destination. However, the less "branchy" approach allows the developers to shine the spotlight proudly on environmental puzzles, which feature more than your standard push-block fare. You'll make use of a portal-creating device pretty often, lob and light sticky bombs to blow up obstructions and keep an eye out for grappling hook-friendly orbs in the sky.

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC) image

Solutions aren't always as cut and dry as they appear, either. Sometimes you can't carry an explosive quickly enough to a giant rock before it explodes. Other times your grappling points are out of reach and require you to climb, or you can't figure out how to temporarily slow time long enough to get past a trap, or you don't know if you should throw a switch before traversing a room. Trial and error plays a tremendous role in getting past the campaign's assortment of challenges, and the game grants you all the space and time you need to tinker with and manipulate the world to your benefit.

Darksiders may not be best known for its cinematic elements, but this actioner does give you plenty of intense and thrilling moments. One sequence practically goes survival-horror, as you basically reenact the movie "Tremors." You pad across a sandy arena, with only a few stone floors to save you from the giant, man-eating sandworm dwelling beneath you. Later on, you even get to fight a few of these creatures while riding your monstrous horse. You'll get plenty of excitement when you compete against a giant blacksmith, as the two of you take on a contingent of angels. A kill counter in your HUD keeps track of your frags versus his. Eventually, one of the winged soldiers drops a heavenly machine gun for you to operate, and that's when the bodies really pile up.

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC) image

Every boss encounter plays out in a familiar action flick style, and ends with the usual horrific slaying that the cocky nemesis arguably deserved. Again, it smacks heavily of Devil May Cry, but it does so with a knowing wink and a respectful nod. War always has something cheesy yet charming to say during these scenes, too. He's yet another character that you won't appreciate for narrative depth, but might dig just because he's cool.

Never mind that Darksiders: Warmastered Edition presents few unique touches, and doesn't exactly spin an engaging or deep yarn. It knows what kind of game it is, and plays to its own strengths about as well as it should. It carefully stitches Ocarina of Time's delightful puzzles and dungeons together with Devil May Cry's attitude and sleek combat, crafting a terrific, blockbuster-like experience.

4/5

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (September 03, 2018)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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