When the original Darksiders was released, many people (myself included), hailed it as the best Zelda game ever released. With Darksiders, Vigil had managed to do something that Zelda had not done in years, something new. Vigil took the tired and true formula and wrapped it in a somewhat unique world with gameplay that mixed things up a bit, leading to a bit of a cult hit. Can Vigil capture our collective imaginations once more with Darksiders II, or will they just try for a repeat?
One of the first things that Vigil announced during development was that the game would now have loot, and many fans of the first game including myself, were relatively sure that the sequel would be a completely different type of game, perhaps something more like a Diablo or Torchlight.
My concerns over this new element of the game were quickly proven to be unfounded though as I began to make my way through the very familiar Darksiders motions once more. The old elements that Vigil brought back from the new game mesh perfectly with the new loot system, as well as a few more minor new features.
For a game with such a feeling of mechanical flow, it absolutely falls flat when it comes to proper gameplay flow. As the game carries on, the difficulty constantly oscillates back and forth, especially when the game gets to the boss encounters. Since its still a Zelda game at heart, most of the bosses require the use of some item you just picked up a few minutes before, while other bosses just need you to beat them senseless in order to win. Darksiders II alternates these two boss types back and forth until the game concludes, failing to create anything even resembling a difficulty curve.
Even more punishing then the massive difficulty spikes and dips found in the main campaign are the side missions that you are given by NPCs. These side missions are leaps and bounds more difficult than anything you are ever required to do in the main game, and as a result will often require skills that the game has never really bothered to fully teach you, leaving you ill-equipped unless you decide to just leave all of the side missions until you come back for a second play-through of the game.
The most atrocious mission does take place in the main story-line, though. Just as the game is winding down, the game suddenly and randomly throws you into a horrific third person shooter sequence that throws every single convention out the window in favor of mass murder by turret.
Nonetheless, Darksiders II remains an excellent dungeon crawling game, and still remains leaps and bounds beyond the latest Zelda game, Skyward Sword. While Nintendo does the same things with its franchises over and over again, some companies like Vigil are picking up where they left off and truly moving their ideas forward in a way that Nintendo never seems quite willing to commit to.