FIRST 10 MINUTES | X360, PS3 Monday, January 4, 2010 | 7:00 PM

The first 10 minutes: Darksiders

The first 10 minutes: Darksiders

The break was brief but the time to get back to business has now come. Today, THQ's Darksiders gets a very special treatment with a full article including my first impressions of the game after four hours in the story. Much like in our reviews, each paragraph will be illustrated by corresponding videos showing different gameplay sequences. Because we like to do things the proper way, you will also be able to see our typical first 10 minute video at the end of the article. All the team at Gamersyde would like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year.

Much like Dead Space, Darksiders is a subtle mix between several very big games. It does not imply that THQ's new game lacks personality, far from it. Take a slice of God of War, a pinch of Zelda and Soul Reaver and a zest of Prince of Persia and Dark Sector and you will get the recipe for a very good game indeed.

Darksiders tells the story of three Kingdoms: the Kingdoms of Hell and Heaven and the younger Kingdom of Man. The Charred Council's role is to maintain balance between them all with the help of four enforcers: the four Horsemen of Apocalypse. A truce is forged between Hell and Heaven so Men have time to strengthen to be ready for the Endwar, the ultimate battle that is to decide of the fate of the three Kingdoms. After being summoned, War - one of the four Horsemen you play - is betrayed, which leads the world to chaos and Mankind to an end.

As you probably already know it, Joe Madureira (comic book writer famous for his work on Uncanny X-Men and Battle Chasers) was in charge of all the artistic direction of the game. Not everyone will like the comic book design of Darksiders but there is no denying the work that has been achieved is worthy of praise. The different protagonists and all the environments you will encounter are all very coherent and convey a good sense of credibility to the game's universe. The post-apocalyptic atmosphere has been completely nailed and you will see that the landscapes are both immersive and varied.

If the design cannot be blamed, the same cannot be said when it comes to the game's performances. Darksiders is indeed a lot less polished than the other big games of the genre, which means you will have to cope with some screen tearing, small framerate drops, poor texture work at times and some aliasing issues. However, it would be a real shame to stop at such nitpicking and it soon becomes obvious that the game still has its moments graphics-wise. I'll let you see for yourself in the following video presenting some of the early environments.

With such a long and impressive sword, one is expected to learn to master it quickly and skillfully, should you want to use it to its full potential. Hopefully, the good amount of dangerous foes will make it easier for you to get a hang of it. The combat system is very similar to games such as God of war or Devil May Cry, with multiple combos to purchase in exchange for the souls you have collected and the many hidden collectibles that can help you enhance the character's powers more rapidly. Now very common in the genre, finishing your enemies will be indicated by the appearance of a button, which will be the opportunity to enjoy some pretty violent moves. Of course, you will also get your share of awfully big monsters to kill in boss fight sequences that will require more patience and some specific tactics to defeat.

Darksiders is a bit more than a beat 'em up however. Though War does not look as agile as a Persian prince, you would be mistaken to believe he cannot handle the necessary jumping and climbing around. The game then becomes a real platformer where you learn new abilities that unlock new areas to explore.

Quite unsurprisingly, all the platforming will also be accompanied by some pretty common - but appealing - puzzle solving time. It gives War a chance to rest his sore muscles after a series of exhausting fights and use his observation skills as well as his very useful cross blade - very reminiscent of Zelda and Dark Sector to name but a few.

Another clear reference is Panzer Dragon when the game transforms into a shoot them up as War rides a flying mount in a rail shooting sequence. Again, it's not so much that it really adds a lot to the game as it is simply a nice break from all the fighting and platforming. Thus, it brings more variety to the gameplay, along with a bunch of nice touching memories to all Sega fans.

A few words on the voice acting and the cutscenes unfolding the story. Again, they have done some really good work at creating some charismatic characters, and, although the story does not seem to be very original, it still gives a good incentive to keep playing to find out what is going to happen. Some sequences will remind you a bit of the long Shakespearian dialogs of the Soul Reaver franchise and it does give the game its particular atmosphere. Hats off to Mark-Luke-Hamill once again, he makes a very believable Watcher and the rest of the cast is just as good so there is nothing to complain in that area.

To sum up, in spite of a few technical flaws, Darksiders is a very addictive game which reveals its full potential as you move forward. I obviously cannot be sure, as I haven't had time to complete the game yet, but there seems to be much to do, which should guarantee a good longevity. I have not mentioned it before but, after a few hours, you will be able to ride Ruin, War's horse, and explore the world even more easily (and much faster) than before. So, with all the hidden chests and places to discover, it should keep you very busy for a while.

Darksiders is definitely a very good surprise for those who like such games. It took ages to be released - it was first announced in July 2007 - but it has the means to compete with all the big hits of 2010. To finish this article, here are at last the indispensable first 10 minutes of the game, if you still need to be convinced that is.

Bosses / Combat
Shoot'em Up
The first 10 minutes

All comments

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Commented on 2010-01-05 18:48:50
I had to translate the article much faster than usual and did not really have time to give it a very good second reading to be in time for the game's release.

So be understanding. :)
Commented on 2010-01-05 19:01:57
I cant wait until this friday so I can pick it up!

I almost love everything with the game so far.

Too bad I read that there is no new game+. Only thing that will carry over is some sort of an armor but thats it.
Commented on 2010-01-05 19:13:22 In reply to Driftwood
Posted by Driftwood
I had to translate the article much faster than usual and did not really have time to give it a very good second reading to be in time for the game's release.

So be understanding. :)
Very good article Driftwood. I've been playing it for 3 hours now, and I think the same about the game. It's a great game, and a very nice surprise. Nice beginning of 2010.
Commented on 2010-01-05 19:18:25
Awesome article,Im glad the game is having some love here,I cant wait to get my copy of the game.

Ive been waiting for this for like 2 years or so XD
Commented on 2010-01-05 20:05:43
Great article. Picking up my copy on friday hopefully.
Commented on 2010-01-05 20:21:11
Great atmosphere the game has !
The Main Character Design and some of the others is really not my thing,but otherwise game looks really good !

Will get it !

Thanks for the nice read too !
Commented on 2010-01-05 21:49:01
I'm with io. The game looks amazing from a technical standpoint, but the character design still bugs me. It doesn't jibe with the "End of Days" look.
Commented on 2010-01-05 21:58:47
I'm not a huge fan of the artstyle either, but it's easy to overlook as I've been playing the game for about four hours now and it's a fantastic game if you like Zelda style games. It does a lot of different things and most of them so far are done quite well.

So far, this and Bayonetta (another game that I HATE the characters and art style but can overlook due to great gameplay) are a hell of a good way to start off the new year. And to think Mass Effect 2 is right around the corner. I am going to be spending way too much money on games the next three months :-)
Commented on 2010-01-05 22:26:37
BOO! When are we going to see a new incredible HULK!?!?

...just kidding.
Commented on 2010-01-05 22:57:59
At the beging I loved the game. Story, voice acting, music was great but after playing it a bit it turned out to be another boring and shallow game.
Commented on 2010-01-06 05:57:52 In reply to GeRaLTo
Posted by GeRaLTo
At the beging I loved the game. Story, voice acting, music was great but after playing it a bit it turned out to be another boring and shallow game.
How long have you been playing? I also thought it was boring and shallow at first but after an hour or two the game got really good once you started unlocking new weapons and abilities and the Zelda style puzzle levels started kicking in. Once that happened the game got really good IMO.

My only gripe is that the difficulty is REALLY not balanced at all. Most of the game it feels like a cake-walk fighting enemies but every now and then you end up in a room with some really cheap enemies that have unblockable attacks double teaming you. This is when the game got frustrating enough that I just took the game out and playing some Forza 3 to calm down lol.

If you can get past the really frustrating cheap parts though it's a really nice Zelda levels meets God of War combat style game.

I just wish the art style wasn't so cartoon-like, it really takes away from the atmosphere that is trying to be so dark and serious. So far really great game overall IMO.
Commented on 2010-01-06 09:05:21 In reply to Nietzsche
Posted by Nietzsche
I have a question to you considering you are playing it.

Does some enemies not care for you attacks?
I mean when you attack them, will they not react to any hits at all?

I hate it when games like this do this to you. You keep attacking with various moves and the enemy just dont care and they will continue to do their thing no matter what.
Commented on 2010-01-06 10:22:25
Im really loving the game. In Spain they were selling it the 31st of December so I´m already 10 hours in. Theres nothing really similar in the 360 and I was aking for something Soul Reaver/Zelda wise in this console.

Theres something in the article that caught my attention Driftwood: ""The combat system is very similar to games such as God of war or Devil May Cry (guns aside obviously),"" ------ guns aside... how wrong are you! ;)
Commented on 2010-01-06 10:25:52 In reply to Suil
Well, as I said, my impressions only concern the first 4 hours. I didn't have time to play more unfortunately. So, based on what I saw, it is true. ;)
Commented on 2010-01-06 10:36:05
Yeah great game. Have played about 12 hours by now and a really great mix of third preson action game and Zelda like dungeons.
To Sath: At the beginning you loose all your powers as the Horseman of Apocalypse ... so a new game+ would make absolutly no sense. Btw normal is very easy and on apocalyptic you actually have to play a bit more tactical...magics...counterblocks and so on.
Commented on 2010-01-06 13:54:47
Leonidas: I know that War gets stripped away most of his abilities and weapons and throughout the game you get them back. I meant, once you finish the game, is there any way of playing the game again, but have everything you had last time? Kind of like Ninja Gaiden 2.
I read that there is no new game+, however you get to keep one of the armor...harvester or something. I just want to make sure its true.
Commented on 2010-01-06 14:01:10
can't see myself picking this one up, but i'll give it a rent.
Commented on 2010-01-06 14:37:45
Too bad the PS3-version does NOT seem to be vsync locked, hence the screen tearing (altough less than on Xbox 360 apparentely). It's sad this beautiful game had to be released with this flaw. I wonder if Joe Mad was happy with his artwork being torn to pieces by a gfx engine wich could use that last month of polish to avoid these problems in the first place.

If gamers stop caring about image quality and consistency (solid 30 or 60 fps and vsync locked), than developers will do so too.
Commented on 2010-01-06 14:38:49
The Abyssal Armor its what you can take to a new game and thats it.
Commented on 2010-01-06 14:54:53 In reply to IRAIPT0IR
Posted by IRAIPT0IR
The Abyssal Armor its what you can take to a new game and thats it.
Which is sad. SP only games needs tons of unlockables and new game + to give to players some really good replay value.
Look at Bayonetta - i am at 3rd playthrough and the game still has tons of things for unlocking.

Darksiders is rental for me too.
Commented on 2010-01-06 15:18:41 In reply to IRAIPT0IR
Posted by IRAIPT0IR
The Abyssal Armor its what you can take to a new game and thats it.
I guess they wanted to keep us hooked with the whole "treasure hunting". I understand that, but that is for NEW GAME without +.

Well hopefully the game delivers a good first experience impression, enough for me to enjoy it from time to time when I am in mood for more playthroughs.

They should have added a ARENA mode instead though, that would be nice.
Commented on 2010-01-06 15:41:15
Yes I was a little dissapointed too but oh well I have the unlockables and game + in Bayonetta,]I will play this for the adventure part honestly that was my main interest in this game,the dungeons,exploration and that Zelda stuff with some Soul Reaver in the mix.

I will play normal and apocalyptic either way though so its 2 playthroughs right there enough to unlock everything the game has to offer.
Commented on 2010-01-06 18:23:18
Meh.. I'll settle with Bayonetta and Dante (enough hack n slash to keep me busy for months anyway). This just seems like "wannabe-bad", world of warcraft evil.
With Bayonettas superb perfection that is the combat, and Dante's unrivaled nastiness of the enviroments and setting, Darksiders just has no place for me =)
Commented on 2010-01-06 18:29:57 In reply to Baleur
Posted by Baleur
This just seems like "wannabe-bad", world of warcraft evil.)
I don't understand this quote at all. It's not trying to be WoW at all with respect to gameplay, and WoW didn't invent the art style.
Commented on 2010-01-06 22:54:44 In reply to Ronsauce
Posted by Ronsauce
I don't understand this quote at all. It's not trying to be WoW at all with respect to gameplay, and WoW didn't invent the art style.
i'd say it certainly popularised it tho. the guy looks like he's a WOW NPC...not even worthy of main character status. the guy just looks like a hulking mass of poor design choices.
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