I went into playing the second Darksiders without playing the first, mostly because I didn’t have any access to the first game (it’s not available on the modern consoles I own, being the PS4 and Wii U). But as it turns out, I don’t really need to play the predecessor anyway, so I’m fine with having skipped over it. Also, I have to give a shout out to Teddy Taylor for hipping me to the existence of Darksiders II, which he said I’d enjoy based on my love for the Legend of Zelda series because the gameplay is somewhat similar.
Well, it turns out that Teddy was right, as I thoroughly enjoyed my 20-hour (or so) initial (and likely only) playthrough of the second Darksiders. I put “likely only” in parenthesis because even though I enjoyed playing it quite a lot, it’s also one of the most frustrating gaming experiences I’ve had in my lifetime. It may not be up there with, say, the anger I felt when I ripped off the packaging of Battle of Olympus as a youngster, but there’s a certain rage that I felt playing Darksiders II that I’m having trouble getting over.
Now, I have to make something clear: the bugs and glitches I experienced in Darksiders II probably weren’t as bad as those experienced by day-one adopters of, say, Assassins Creed Unity. That being said, I’ve strayed from buying games like that on release day because I’ve learned a lesson from all the bullshit others have dealt with. However, that’s also why I was so enraged by Darksiders II. The game was released three months later (in 2012) on the Wii U compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 and it still arrived with plenty of bugs. And I didn’t even get the game until this past December (2014)! You would think that there would be some patches or something put into effect to fix the issues within the game.
But you’d be wrong—probably of issues with its first publisher, THQ, which closed its doors in 2013. Although Nordic Games picked up the torch that same year, it doesn’t seem like anything has been done to repair what is a very, very broken game.
Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating by calling it “very, very broken,” but I dealt with headaches that I don’t think any gamers should have to experience when playing the final version of a fucking product. It’s ridiculous to think that this title got through all of the appropriate testing stages without certain things being fixed. You’re telling me I’m the only person who had to repeat the second-to-last boss fight five times because of a glitch that kept happening? For those who want to know, I had to keep fighting the Samael character because of an extremely annoying glitch that happened like this:
- At a certain point the fight, you can cross a bridge to attack Samael as he sits in his throne
- Upon attacking Samael, he’s supposed to throw you back onto the bridge, where you have to hit an action button before he hits you
- Whether you’re quick to hit the action button or not, he then destroys the bridge and pulls part of the level close to him, which brings you to the next part of the battle
The thing is, that last portion of the fight didn’t always go as planned. Two out of the four times I fought him, Samael brought the land closer to him, but he then beat the living shit out of me because he suddenly became terribly overpowered. The other two times, he didn’t pull the land to him, so I kept fighting him in the same way and figured, “OK, this is it!” That was until he kept falling into the lava and eventually died, which I thought was great because it saved me some health potions. But, um, it didn’t register as a proper defeat because he never pulled the land to him… So I had to restart the game until, on the fifth time fighting him, he died in the right spot and I could proceed.
Another glitch occurred as I was rounding up Judicator, one of the three Lords of the Dead Court you have to win over and blahblahblah that’s not really important. Why? Because there’s not really much to the story of Darksiders II as you’re mostly running around doing chores for random overlords, demons, giants, etc. so that you can prove the innocence of your brother, War. And I realize that may sound boring—who enjoys doing chores?—it’s a lot more entertaining than that, because said “chores” involve lots of brutal battles and difficult-but-not-too-difficult puzzles.
But I digress.
Judicator’s quest was a huge pain in the ass because, well, the game decided to throw another bug at me. While getting on his good side, you have to collect some souls and return them to Judicator. Sounds straightforward, right? It is, until you bring him the third one and you can’t interact with the Lord… because the game isn’t registering that you’re standing in front of him. This led to me trying to jump on his tiny platform so that I could speak to him, but even doing that proved unsuccessful. He just ended up telling me that I another soul left to collect… That was until I rebooted my console and, sure enough, I could talk to Judicator!
There were some other glitches and bugs I experienced—like getting stuck jumping off a tiny ledge and not being able to climb walls a certain way because the game didn’t want me to…—but describing them would take way too long.
Look, I know there are games out there with far worse glitches and bugs, but most of the games are also absolute shit. Darksiders II, on the other hand, is not shit, not even close. It’s actually one of the better games of its ilk that I’ve played in recent memory. Sure, some people can argue that the fights are repetitive, but that’s only if you let that happen. After growing tired of my fighting style, I switched up my secondary weapon (from a slower item like an axe to something fast like gauntlets) and started using the special attacks I earned through skill points. And I only played as a melee-heavy character—you can ditch the hand-to-hand combat (mostly) and use spells and whatnot to have what’s probably a pretty different experience, fighting-wise.
It’s also worth noting that the soundtrack is surprisingly solid and reminded me of something Trent Reznor would create. Yes, that means it’s dark, gloomy, and pretty heavy at times, but it also has bits that reminded me of a Lord of the Rings score. Not only that, but the protagonist, Death, reminded me so much of Raziel from Legacy of Kain that I actually thought I was playing a spiritual successor to that series.
Alright, so, should I play the game?
That really all depends. If you love hack-and-slash games with some RPG elements and puzzles, then yes, I think you’ll really enjoy Darksiders II. Just know that you will more than likely experience some of the bugs I wrote about and you’ll be prepared to deal with it.