Darksiders was a pretty enjoyable action game - controlling one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the underworld had never been so fun. Unfortunately, it fell by the wayside as its release was pitched right next to another high-profile brawler - Bayonetta. When you see the two games sitting on the shelf and you have to pick just one, which would you choose? Grim, foreboding beefcake or jazzy sex-witch with a hair-corset?
It was for this reason that I passed on Darksiders
until only recently - which is a shame because the heavy-metal influenced art style and intriguing storyline is something that?s right up my alley. I gladly saw a presentation of the upcoming sequel, which puts you in the shoes of another Horseman, Death.
He?s on a mission to redeem his brother, War, you see - but to do so, he has to go on something of a grand adventure and fulfil various tasks - and reverse the apocalypse that befell the world and its billions of inhabitants in the process. No pressure there then.
In this preview build, Death was required to meet with the Lord of Bones - a chap who?s overworked with trying to process around 6 billion dead people and transfer them into the underworld. To arrange an audience, Death has to pass through to the combat arena and defeat the champion, bringing back its head.
Just getting to the Lord of Bones? flying skull palace requires a lot of agility and skill however. Luckily, Death controls quite differently to War in that he spurns all of that heavy armour for two massive scythes and a nimble, parkour-crazy attitude. Just getting to the location in question requires the travel companionship of Death?s trusty horse, Despair - I?m told that Darksiders 2
?s game world is roughly four times bigger than that of the previous game.
Clambering around the palace walls to gain entry - the Lord of Bones isn?t exactly going to open the door for you - smacks of Uncharted
influences, but this is only really a good thing. Death has the added bonus of the Ghost Hook tool, which allows him to grapple onto far away objects and swing from place to place. He can also scurry up flat surfaces and run up walls for a short period of time, allowing for some intricate wall-jumping and interesting environmental puzzles.
Exploring the dungeon stages within the Lord of Bones? palace leads to some prime combat opportunities. With Death?s more agile build, he?s able to dodge enemy attacks often and perform some rather lovely-looking finishers. Get a combo going with his two scythes and you?ll see him juggle several baddies at once while he?s spinning in the air. Do well, and you?ll even see the two scythes form into one badass-looking sword.
While War had his Havoc mode in the original Darksiders
, Death has a Reaper mode, which as you?d expect gives him a chance to get all Grim on his enemies. This time around, you don?t have to fill up the chaos bar all the way to activate the mode, meaning you can switch it on in a pinch and possibly experience different levels of Reaper-ness.
As you smash enemies? heads in, numbers pop up out of thin air. These are your experience points, added to the game to inject a little RPG flair to Darksiders 2
. You can use the points you collect from levelling up to spend on a massive skill tree - I?m told that you won?t be able to collect every ability in Darksiders 2
, so choose the power-ups that best suit your play style.
It all allows for a great deal of customisation, and ties in quite well with the looting system that accompanies it. Defeated enemies will fart out gold, armour and other trinkets that can be equipped to make yourself a little bit harder in the underworld. Death can be kitted out in a purple cape and gold-trimmed armour to look almost exactly like Skeletor - and that?s a great thing. He just needs the squeaky voice and we?re all good.
The hands-off experience ended with a walkthrough of a massive boss in the gladiatorial arena - this ungodly creature starts off as a worm-like thing wriggling around in the dirt that you need to yank out with the Ghost Hook to deal some damage. Then the rest of it comes out of the ground: suddenly you?re battling a giant demon megalith with a taste for Death. The funny thing is, the studio is calling this monstrous beast a ?mini-boss,? hinting that even larger enemies are waiting in the wings for our nefarious anti-hero.
With art direction like this - and gameplay that looks compelling to boot - I certainly am kicking myself for only just catching up with the Darksiders
series. And if you enjoyed the last title, keep an eye on this sequel.