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Customer Review

62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darksiders is 3rd-Person Action/Adventure Perfection, January 15, 2010
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This review is from: Darksiders - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Thank you Vigil. Finally, a game developer who 'gets it.' It's obvious that Darksiders was a labor of love, created by gamers, for gamers. I've played a lot of games over the years, and Darksiders masterfully crafts together the best elements of the genre while stripping out the garbage we could all do without. Why is Darksiders possibly the best pick-up-&-play action/adventure game ever?

+ Easy-to-learn, forgiving controls.
+ Variety of gameplay elements (swordplay, throwing objects, climbing, swinging, swimming, shooting, riding, treasure hunting, weapon upgrades, puzzle solving, etc.).
+ Beautiful artistic style, animation, and environments - if you've enjoyed Joe Madureira's art in other mediums, playing Darksiders is an awesome interactive experience that brings his artistic vision to life in high definition.
+ Frequently saved checkpoints, plus save-anytime feature, and multiple save blocks that can be copied between memory cards and hard drives.
+ Epic fantasy storyline.
+ Effective defensive moves (block and dash/dodge).
+ Easily-controllable camera/perspective.
+ Engaging puzzles that don't take forever to figure out and complete.
+ Fast-travel network to quickly move between distant previously-visited areas.
+ No 'artificial challenge' that handicaps and punishes players.
+ No flow-breaking, action-obscuring quick-time events.
+ No unskippable cut-scenes.
+ Amazing audio that artfully conveys the epic scale of the characters and battles.
+ On-screen mini-map (and full map on the paused game's options screen) keeps you from getting lost and wondering where to go next.
+ Saved slots are indicated with the location and play-time you saved at, along with your difficulty level and health, making it easy to remember which file to load among multiple saves.

Whoever crafted the controls and usability/accessibility features of this game deserves the gaming industry's most prestigious award and recognition. For all the different gameplay elements, the controls always feel fluid and familiar. Most of us play a variety of games, so familiarizing ourselves with a new game's control scheme (or re-familiarizing ourselves with an old favorite later) can be rough. Darksiders takes this pain away by keeping the controls simple and always displaying the appropriate controller button on-screen next to each actionable icon. Many gamers buy or rent used games that don't come with instruction manuals, and thankfully Darksiders can be quickly and easily grasped without ever laying eyes on a manual. Awesome, powerful attack combos can be pulled off with merely a couple button-presses. The on-screen tips (which are saved in a log accessible via the paused game's options screen) walk you through every step of the way. Any action that consumes resources (like a magical attack that use up your wrath meter) requires two buttons to be pressed simultaneously, so you never accidentally slip and hit the wrong button and waste your resources.

If you've played other popular contemporary action/adventure games, you'll likely find familiar gameplay elements here. Darksiders pays homage to the most fun aspects in popular gaming while leaving OUT the frustrations that are too common in most other games. Most thankfully, Darksiders AVOIDS the maddening handicaps that too many other games rely on to inject what I call 'artificial challenge:'
- Few and far-between save points (sometimes real life happens - the phone rings, a visitor knocks at the door, dinner's ready, etc. - and you don't have an hour to play until the next save point).
- Only allowing one save file (preventing you from having multiple games in-progress, or reverting to an earlier save point).
- Pathetic defense (no ability to block incoming attacks, limited ability to dodge incoming attacks, limited opportunity to take cover, etc.).
- Leaving you helplessly stunned/paralyzed and vulnerable for a brief period after sustaining damage, allowing enemies to endlessly juggle you to death.
- Convoluted control schemes and complex combo moves that are too long or tricky to reliably execute in the heat of battle.
- Scarce resources (never any health or ammo around when you need it).
- Obstructive camera perspectives that obscure your view of the action.
- Requiring you to swim through areas while only giving you very limited breath.
- Defeated enemies release floating orbs for you to collect, but you must be in very close proximity to receive them (I'm here to kick butt, not chase butterflies).
- Performing an attack move (or being attacked) too close to a ledge causes you to fall off that ledge.
- Falling off a ledge is an instant game-over, restarting you at a prior point.

+++ Darksiders does NOT punish the player with ANY of these buzz-kills. If you ever felt like throwing your game controller through your television out of frustration from cheap shots like this that other games shamelessly and repeatedly hit you with, then Darksiders will soothe those old wounds and renew your joy of gaming. Darksiders is by no means lacking in challenge, but it lets you focus on battling bad guys WITHOUT battling short-sighted, penalizing game mechanics. Darksiders doesn't keep finding cheap ways to end the fun and hinder your progress like many other games do. EVERY game developer should take serious notes on how smoothly and accessibly Darksiders flows for the player.

I have a hard time coming up with even minor things I would change about Darksiders:
- I've become spoiled the last few years on the auto-regenerating health systems that many popular games have, so I wish Darksiders didn't require the player to find health-replenishing items (although it partially compensates for this by providing plenty of health pick-ups and a weapon modifier that gives you a little health boost every time you inflict damage on enemies).
- I wish the enemies and bosses displayed a health meter so I could see how much damage my attacks are inflicting (to find the most effective attacks) and know how close (or far) I am to defeating an enemy.
- The screen that lists your available attacks for each weapon does not indicate what level each attack has been upgraded to (the only way to know is to check what the next level available for purchase is at a shop).
- The shop/purchase screen does not give you a last-minute confirming ('Are you sure you wish to buy this item?') back-out option when you buy something, so don't hit that 'buy' button accidentally.
- The shop/purchase screen does not show you how many of a particular item you may already be carrying in your inventory.
- While the 360-degree moveable camera perspective is great, I wish the speed/sensitivity of the camera movement was adjustable (sometimes I want to whip the camera around faster to get a view of something, but again, Darksiders partially compensates for this with the 'lock-on/focus' trigger that instantly resets the camera to the direction you're character is facing).
- There's a combo meter that counts your consecutive hits during fights, but I haven't seen any reward system that ties to racking up long combos (so why count them?).
- The only technical glitch I've noticed so far is some graphical screen-tearing.

Do yourself a favor and play Darksiders, and wrap yourself in a cozy blanket of fun, frustration-free action/adventure gaming. Do the gaming world a favor and buy this game to promote this kind of development so that future games will follow the fine example Darksiders sets. Vigil, please make sequels (and/or other games) that keep the same gamer-friendly spirit of Darksiders. Darksiders is not just a game - it's a gift to gamers.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 9, 2010 5:30:06 AM PST
Mark Warner says:
You don't call the gated skill challenges needed to remove the stone giant gate guys "artificial challenge"? I sure do.

Worst part of an otherwise fantastic game.

Posted on May 20, 2011 5:44:42 PM PDT
D. Trishin says:
Fantastic review to a fantastic game. I'm so happy someone else gets it. I feel the same way.
Looking forward to Darksiders 2.
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