I played a lot of great games in 2010. I also played a lot of not-so great games in 2010. However, there’s one game that really resonated with me, even though I played it at the beginning of January. Hit the jump for my thoughts on the brand new IP and my GOTY pick: Darksiders.
Darksiders caught my eye right when it was first announced. People kept hyping the fact that the legendary comic book artist Joe Madureira was the game’s creative director, but that didn’t matter to me. Darksiders just looked “bold.” The distinctive character designs and the way they all seemed to mesh together drew me in.
Darksiders was both similar and unlike any other game I’d played before. The game lets you play as War, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, as you attempt to find out who tricked you into starting the end of the world too early. Sure the story’s a little overwrought, and the naming conventions are a goofy (looking at you “Chaoseater”), but it didn’t matter. Darksiders took itself just seriously enough to not venture into the realm of self-parody. It wasn’t going to win awards for best storytelling, but it was fun.
As far as gameplay goes, Darksiders is a third person action adventure game with combat along the lines of God of War or Dante’s Inferno. However, some of the dungeons and the items you acquire within them are reminiscent of the Legend of Zelda series. Along with its enjoyable art style, the voice acting in Darksiders was consistently good, even though most of the characters are all gruff-voiced and angry. Still, Mark Hamil gives an enjoyable performance as the devious little demon, the Watcher.
When the game first came out, there were some that cried foul. “It’s just another God of War clone! Oh look, they’re stealing from Portal.” My response: “Who cares?” Yes it’s true that Darksiders owes a lot of its gameplay to games that came before it, but it pulled it off with swagger and aplomb. It’s incredibly rare to see a brand new IP have the balls to do that and do it well. Darksiders is more of an homage than outright theft. When people complain that it’s just “God of War meets Zelda,” I just look at them with a raised eyebrow as if to say, “Is that a bad thing?”
I rarely pre-order games because they’re too expensive, but I took the risk with Darksiders, and I have no regrets. I ended up finding my 2010 GOTY in January. I know that there are plenty of voices in the community singing the praises Red Dead Redemption as GOTY, and while I recognize RDR‘s polish and quality, it didn’t give me that little spark of excitement when I played it. Darksiders gives me that spark every time I put it in my PS3.
While the Black Tower dungeon lacks the same level of quality demonstrated in the rest of the game, the worst part about Darksiders is that I have to wait until 2013 for a sequel. Thankfully I can replay the game while Vigil Games works. Wielding a giant sword as one of the Four Horsemen while atop the back of a giant flaming horse never gets old.