Darksiders: Warmastered Edition Review (Xbox One)

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Developer: KAIKO, Vigil Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic

Main Review

Review Context: I’m not familiar with the series, though I did play the sequel on Wii U. I was perplexed as to why people said this was “Zelda for adults”, but upon playing this I can see the resemblance.
Date of Playthrough: November 28, 2016
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy.

Since people are buying Xbox Ones and PlayStation 4s at a decent rate, many publishers are releasing games from previous consoles to give players a second chance on titles many have missed out on. While some have done more to make it worth double-dipping (The Last of Us, Windwaker HD, among others), there are some that feel like no effort was put into the project (Batman: Return to Arkham). Darksiders is a game I missed out on and THQ Nordic feels the same way, as they released the Darksiders Warmastered Edition with better visuals and smoother frame rate. Will these improvements be worth it or should we use the ‘banhammer’ on this remastered game?

darksiderswarmasterededitionscreen01

Graphics

Unfortunately, I cannot compare the visuals between the original from 2010 and this version, but from what I’ve seen, it looks to be an Xbox 360/PS3 game with higher textures, but the 60fps helps out with the movement of the animation. There is an option to turn off the post processing effects that is added for better visuals. The environments are colorful for a dark moody game, which I’m happy more games are doing (Gears of War 4). The character designs in the game have that beefy 300 design without going overboard, while the enemies look like something you don’t want to anger.

Not once has the game’s frame rate dropped, even during my brutal fights of multiple enemies, but I have encountered glitches in the game. Some were minor, like dripping water appearing on the screen in a dry room, to a game-breaking one that caused me to restart the game. It seems that the farther I got in the game the more bugs occurred.. Hopefully a patch can help fix these issues.

Controls

With this being a third-person hack-and-slash game the controls take some getting used to, as there are multiple gameplay varieties. They do ease you into the controls with the in-game tutorials as you unlock new abilities, but the button placement for some are questionable, like using the left bumper and right trigger to active Chaos Form. It is satisfying when the B button icon appears over the enemies and War (the main character) kills the demon in slow motion fashion.

This is when the Zelda comparison comes in. You have two main weapons and you can switch out your secondary weapon,(which is mapped to the Y button) and projectile (right trigger) to the assigned locations. The same goes for items. They also implemented the “Z targeting” aim by holding down the left trigger, but refined it by letting you switch targets with the right stick. However, there is manual aim when you click on the right stick and lock on with the left trigger, and because of this, there were moments in the heat of battle I would manually aim when I meant to aim lock. Once you unlock the dash and counter you will be relying on the dash for dodging attacks rather than counter.

One moment the tutorial doesn’t tell you that caused me to get stuck for a bit is the ability to swim underwater. Usually, underwater swimming seems to be hit and miss, but this game got the swimming controls down. The only drawback, as with most third person games, is the camera. While you can control it manually with the right stick, it would be nice for the camera to automatically rotate for minor events like running up the stairs.

darksiderswarmasterededitionscreen02

Design

After a lengthy intro about the destruction of Earth (withholding political joke), War joins the battle only to learn nothing is what it seems. From the beginning, you assume this would be another cut and paste slashing game, but as you progress you learn to never judge a game from the first level.

Once you assume this is a God of War ripoff, the game has you searching through castles and solving puzzles to fight boss battles that rely on a new weapon you found. It was then the light bulb hit me with the infamous Zelda talk. The puzzle designs are clever and not too frustrating that would make you rely on walkthroughs. You have the Vulgrim to buy items, weapons, and upgrade your combos, so you don’t just spam the X button. If there is one type of game I love, it’s a game that mixes genres up to give it a fresh take.

The path may be linear, but there are rewards to discover if you explore your surroundings, such as increasing your health, discovering rare items, and leveling up your fighter. There is no multiplayer option, as I don’t expect there to be one in a game like this. The story took a backseat for me, as I cared more about the gameplay than the narrative. Most of the slash games I play rely on killing enemies with style while upgrading your weapons. This changes it up by having you explore and solve puzzles with enough of a brain tease to not overthink in frustration. Some may be turned off that the game isn’t about mashing the attack button all the time.

darksiderswarmasterededitionscreen03

Sound

They let you know the battle between Heaven and Hell is waving on Earth at the beginning with sounds of destruction and chaos. I played the game with a home theater system and had to adjust the in-game volume to prevent the walls from shaking. The soundtrack fits the mood of the game, while the voice acting is great, even more so hearing The Watcher (your forced guidance) voiced by Mark Hamill (Joker from the animated Batman), as he somewhat helps you along the way. Once again, you will be reminded of the Zelda inspiration by hearing a tune whenever you solve a puzzle.

Sadly, there were too many sound glitches I encountered.  The music and/or sound effects cut off at random times. After an explosion there would be a five second delay. The biggest case would be when I pressed the Home button to suspend the game and later resumed playing the game with no sound, until I rebooted the game. The atmosphere for this game would be superb if it wasn’t for the constant sound dropping I experienced during my playthrough.

Similar Games Liked:
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Beyond Good and Evil HD (XBLA)
Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)

Similar Games Disliked:
God of War: Ascension (PS3)
Ninja Blade (Xbox 360)

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