DARKSIDERS II: DEATHINITIVE EDITION / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: THQ NORDIC / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE, SWITCH (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Originally released in 2012, Darksiders II follows Death, one of the Four Horsemen, in a story that cleverly runs parallel to events of the first game, as he attempts to help his brother, War, who has been blamed for the extinction of humanity. A “Deathinitive Edition,” which includes all previously-released DLC and features remastered graphics, appeared in 2015 and recently went portable with its release on the Switch.
Darksiders II retains most of its predecessor's hack and slash dungeon crawling gameplay but adds some RPG elements in an attempt to mix things up a little. Playing as Death, you'll be able to equip countless pieces of armour and wield a variety of increasingly powerful weapons, slowly getting stronger as the game progresses. It's a shame that changing weapons doesn't really alter your attack patterns – there are very few unique combos or special moves, so you'll be relying on mashing two buttons the whole way through and largely seeing the same attacks play out on screen throughout the entire game. Armour is similarly underwhelming, with some items giving the occasional stat buff but mostly only having an effect on reducing damage taken from enemies.
Enemies themselves are a little repetitive, with the same “constructs” popping up over and over again, apart from the odd “enhanced” version now and again. Similarly samey are the dungeons, with an over-reliance on puzzles based around rolling balls into holes. Navigating dungeons can be a pain at the best of times, with Death moving incredibly slowly and his “assistant,” Dust, often failing to point you in the right direction. Finally finding where you're meant to go, only to be faced with yet another ball puzzle or a set of enemies you've already dealt with half a dozen times before, can be a real enthusiasm killer.
Darksiders II has all the tools to be a fantastic game, but so much of what it offers is either bland and uninspired or just downright frustrating. If you've played every other dungeon crawler going and really need one that you can take on the go, it might (might) be worth a look, but plenty of other games have done the whole action RPG thing in much better and more inventive ways.