Post-apocalyptic settings seem to be the bread and butter of action/adventure-based games these days. I don't know if its a product of the ambiguous times we live in, but games makers seem to be a little bit obsesssed with the End of the World as We Know it. Seldom have I seen so literal an embodiment of that mentality as in Darksiders: Wrath of War
The Apocalypse has happened. We're not talking the nuclear kind, or the alien attack kind or the swine flu kind. We're talking the full-on, biblical four horsemen kind. That's your real
Apocalypse. Thing is, it's come a bit off schedule. Read: early. War (the horseman ? that guy) was found at the scene and he's taking the crap for it. Determined to get to the bottom of it all, off he trots to drill down through all the mystery and get to The Truth. When you're War, however, it's not about asking questions and putting the clues together, it's about messing people up with your Great Big Sword.
It's about hack-'n'-slash brawling, exploration and puzzling.
I sat down with the game's creative director (and bona fide comics legend ? think Uncanny X-Men
) Joe Madureira to look over the game and sink my fingers into a session of hands-on time with Darksiders
to see how it's shaping up.
In case you're a lazy turd who can't be bothered reading any further ? the short answer is 'quite well, but there are some improvements I'd like to see in the final build.'
So, I kicked things off in the Seraphim Hotel. This is an early stage in which you get eased into the control scheme and the moves at your disposal. Combat comprises of the familiar quick/light attacks with heavy blows, jumpy-jumpy attacks, grabs and combinations of the above. It was against the backdrop of an extravagant though rather dilapidated hotel (I guess an Apocalypse will do that to tourism) that I got to put this to the test.
Fist up were zombie-type dudes ? cannon fodder who were in no way, shape or form any match for War. I sliced, I diced and ? this was the most fun ? I picked them up, chucked them around and squashed their heads with my fist. If you've never squashed a zombie dude's head with your fist before, I thoroughly recommend that you give it a try. This slicing of dudes took place as I worked my way upwards from the underground car park, getting involved in some light platforming, climbing up Hell growth and a spot of wall running. These mechanics typically worked well, although climbing the unpleasant-looking Hell growth was a bit finicky at times ? switching from one surface to another felt awkward.
The basic fighting mechanics look great and give a real sense of power. There were times, however, when despite the fact that I could see I was doling out plentiful damage, I didn't really feel like I was making contact.
Anyway, I was off to get out of the hotel. Before I could do this, however, I had to defeat a Doomfist Hulk. These are great big bastards with fiery fists. No matter, however, I was War, and while I might have lost a good number of my unearthly abilities (to be picked up throughout the game), I was still pretty handy in a fight. Well, handy enough that I had the fight over in a few minutes after being smacked about a bit, anyway.
Once I made it outside, I was confronted by Volgrim. Volgrim is a demon merchant who'll trade you weapons and items in exchange for souls. That might seem an unpleasant form of currency, but he's a demon and the world's socio-economic structures have been done in by the Apocalypse, so it's tough.