Say what you will about remasters, but they are unquestionably a great way of enabling gamers to get to grips with titles that they may have previously missed.
Case in point: Darksiders. Released in 2010, Darksiders was a game that was right up my alley, but for some reason, I just never got around to playing it. Having been tweaked and touched up to be released on the current generation of consoles in the form of Darksiders: Warmastered Edition however, I can now say that I’ve played it, completed it and very much enjoyed it. And what’s more, it’s available at the bargain price of £14.99.
Casting you as War, the one and only member of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who’s been thrown to Earth during what seems to be the end of days, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition’s action-RPG gameplay fuses Zelda-like dungeons with God of War style combat. As you can imagine, it’s an enjoyable combination, with both aspects balanced well to effectively control the pace of the game. Combat is intuitive, with secondary weapons introduced sporadically throughout the game that not only increase your attack options, but also enable you to further interact with the environment – metroidvania style.
From heavy gauntlets that allow you to smash giant crystals blocking your path to enlarged ninja stars that can be thrown to hit switches, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition’s arsenal is varied, and in conjunction with your main sword attacks can be used to decimate your foes in many stylish ways. You’re able to perform combos with ease, encompassing multiple weapons, and there are also magic attacks to add into the fray. But you won’t get very far without the use of effective dodging, blocking and counter-attacking. And when things look really grim you can assume a fiery chaos form providing your rage bar is full, allowing you to dismiss even the most ardent foes with ease.
It’s during Darksiders: Warmastered Edition‘s boss fights where your combat skills will be truly tested though, but I also found their difficulty to be quite uneven. Refreshingly old-school in that you have to memorise their attack patters to defeat them, some of the earlier bosses gave me much more of a hard time than some of the walkovers towards the end of the game, but they remained somewhat a highlight of the experience nonetheless. Saying that, however, the game’s puzzles are really enjoyable too, and later in the game they can really tax your brain. The Portal-like conundrums in particular, where you need to route laser beams to hit receptacles, will have many a gamer scratching their heads in bewilderment.
In order to add some extra pizazz to the proceedings, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition likes to throw in the odd gameplay curveball now and again. Unfortunately though, they don’t generally add anything good to the game. From a flying on-rails shooter section reminiscent of Panzer Dragoon, to a couple of optional on-foot shooter sequences later in the game, they don’t feel developed or refined enough to thoroughly entertain. Early in the game you’re also required to complete what are essentially two sets of challenge rooms too, which aside from feeling like they’re shoehorned in can also grate with their trial and error nature. Defending a group of undead knights for a set period of time, for example, should be a simple enough task, but with them dispersing across the sizeable arena of their own free will, success feels like a matter of luck more than skill.
Being quite a simple remaster, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition still looks rather dated. Thanks to its sharper textures, improved shadows and enhanced special effects, however, it’s not too much of an eyesore. It helps that it has a solid art style that brings its varied cast of well-designed characters to life. Along with the bump in visual quality over its initial release, the framerate has been noticeably improved too. Moment to moment gameplay is silky smooth aside from some minor framerate drops in areas towards the end of the game, unfortunately causing a little screen tearing. There are also some trivial framerate issues during cutscenes too, but on the whole, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition’s performance is enjoyably robust.
Complementing the upgraded visuals, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition’s soundtrack does a great job of providing a grand backdrop to your adventure, but it’s the voice acting that stands out the most. Each and every character is brought to life with well delivered lines from a solid cast that includes the venerable Troy Baker, carrying you through the rather clichéd story until its conclusion. Star Wars legend Mark Hamill steals the show though, lending his vocal talents to the devious Watcher. It may feel like you are being accompanied by the Batman: Arkham Series’ Joker for the duration of the game, but it doesn’t make his performance any less entertaining.
On the whole, whilst Darksiders: Warmastered Edition has its issues, I feel that it is a decent port of a very good game. Its graphics may look a little dated, and performance does unfortunately decline as you approach its end, but for £14.99 it provides an enjoyably compelling 15 plus hour adventure full of fast-paced combat and brain teasing puzzles that is easy to recommend. Fans of God of War and Zelda in particular will certainly find a lot to like about it.