It deserved more respect for its open, Zelda-esque post-apocalyptic world design. It deserved kudos for marrying solid hack n slash combat with platforming and puzzles so effectively. It deserved to be regarded far higher than it was. Now comes the time to rectify that with a PS4 remaster (or y’know…. Warmaster if you like) of the underappreciated PS3 gem here for a reasonable price and looking substantially better on current gen.
Darksiders is about War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, getting duped into bringing around the end times for humanity. Spending 100 years in exile before he’s finally able to embark on his journey of vengeance, justice, and destruction. So like Oldboy, but with more demons and less of the uncomfortable twists.
War, naturally for this kind of game, starts out a rather feeble shell of himself, and must build his arsenal of retribution by solving puzzles and slaying beasts of significance. Skills acquired are mainly of the combat variety (with upgrades for weapons a separate thing), but you’ll also need to grab certain items along the way to unlock previously locked-off areas. This means a fair bit of backtracking and revisiting, especially early on, but it’s rarely a chore because there’s always a fresh batch of demons to carve through.
Combat is generally rather satisfying, with roots in modern hack n’ slash action (God of War III is the most noteworthy comparison) and has the usual bag of upgradeable tricks you’d expect alongside the genre-standard instantaneous button prompts, but it’s the fact it’s done so well here lifts it to the level of the greats of that generation. Darksiders feels delightfully, satisfyingly chunky to handle. War has some oomph behind his strikes, and there’s a playfully visceral style to his movement that’s somewhat comparable to God of War’s murderlust machine Kratos, but it brings just enough of a stylistic difference to keep some distance from the ashen warlord’s moveset. Similarly, the climbing and puzzling is of a good standard.
It’s also a tad derivative, has an incredibly fiddly camera, and gets a little repetitive in later levels, but these are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things. It is probably what holds it back from the recognition it deserved, though. There have certainly been critical darlings with similar problems that got away with it in the way Darksiders did not.
It’s a good game is what I’m saying, one you can read about in more detail here. What many will want to know is how improved this remaster is, and the answer to that is pretty positive.
Visually, the game has been scrubbed up nicely. Nothing endangering the high-level spectacles on PlayStation 4, but still more than presentable, and a definite upgrade from the PS3 version. War moves more fluidly, and textures are better defined. It’s a pleasant surprise to see a cheaper, lower profile remaster actually outdo some of the more prominent titles that did the same. Sure, it’s no ‘from the ground up’ remake, nor an anticipated second sequel, but it more than holds its own on the current generation, and is a far better remaster than Darksiders II is.
But is it worth returning to for long-term fans? Well it’s cheap enough to try if you so wish, but apart from a nicer aesthetic, it’s still that same game from nearly seven years ago, and those camera issues are not friendly to the returning fan or the curious first-timer. I suppose it partially comes down to how long it’s been since you’ve played it, any more than three years ago and I’d say definitely revisit it by all means, but if you happen to have a copy lying around you can play anyway, there’s little to no point in upgrading for the sake of it. For those unfamiliar, it’s definitely worth the inexpensive punt, though perhaps in a less busy time.