Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 17.12.2016

Review for Darksiders: Warmastered Edition on Xbox One

To mankind, it was Armageddon. To the angels and demons, it was another fight. To War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, it was supposedly just a day at the office. War's mission was to punish transgressors and re-establish order, but he was set up. Fooled into believing that the Endwar had begun, War was defeated by the great demon Straga. The Charred Council - which holds sway over the kingdoms of Heaven, Hell, and Man - accused War for the crime of conspiring with demons to bring about mankind's doom. In order to prove his innocence, War must seek out the real cause of the "unintended apocalypse", and slay anyone who dares to cross him. Relive this epic tale in Darksiders: Warmastered Edition.

War's path to vengeance is long and twisted. Since this is an action-adventure game, it'll take more than a penchant for slaughtering to reach the end. In other words, yes, there is quite a lot of puzzle solving to partake in. Fans of The Legend of Zelda franchise will feel right at home. War and his hellish surroundings are in many ways a distorted mirror image of Link and Hyrule. He even has an obligatory fairy "friend" known as the Watcher, who provides hints whenever the player is feeling stuck. This game also retains the thoughtful and sometimes playful approach to exploration. There is a myriad of helpful upgrades, but most of them require a clever mind and the proper tools to obtain them.

Since not all problems can be solved by sticking a massive sword in them, it helps that the main character is adept at the basics of running and jumping. He also excels in the talents of climbing, block-pushing, and swimming. The controls subtly capture War's apparent weight and heft. He definitely moves like an otherworldly being wearing five tons of metal. However, not once does getting around ever feel clumsy or slow. This makes for a game that just feels good to play. The camera also does a perfectly fine job of keeping tabs on the current situation, however frenetic it might be.

Screenshot for Darksiders: Warmastered Edition on Xbox One

The fights in this game quickly escalate from skirmishes with zombies to clashes with demonic elites. Battles are as gruesome as can be expected, with weakened foes being subjected to vicious finishing moves. Combat requires a level of finesse that can't be understated. Players won't be able to get by with just continually mashing the attack button. Taking advantage of War's sizable moveset makes battles more entertaining, and also drastically increases his chances of survival. Health restoratives are few and far between, so it helps to master the dash and parry moves. Even on the normal difficulty, enemies can do a lot of damage in just a few hits. This starts to get annoying late in the game. While getting an entire bar of life with every health upgrade sounds like overkill, it's more to balance out the fact that towards the end, single hits can take out said entire bars.

The mechanics of combat aren't quite where they need to be. The enemies tend to tank hits a little too often, which makes fighting feel less impactful. While it helps to take advantage of War's various moves and side arms, extended battles start to get a little dull. The game also utilizes a handful of extended battle sequences, which involve the usage of special weapons or mounts. At first, they're a nice change from the norm, but then they run far too long, which makes for uneven pacing. There also seems to be a slight delay when pressing buttons. A rare occurrence is that the player will attempt to parry, but instead they'll get hit, and then War will immediately dash afterwards. The window for parrying is pretty generous, but parrying on reaction is a little unwieldy.

Screenshot for Darksiders: Warmastered Edition on Xbox One

Darksiders has a tendency to be a victim of its own formula. Whenever War receives a new power or special item, it's guaranteed that he'll use it for the next boss fight. It's an understandable aspect of game design, but also a little tired. War has already used his newly acquired power countless times before the boss. The boss itself should be more a test of his martial prowess. Since the powers can be integrated into combat, like using the abyssal chain to grasp enemies from afar, it's possible that something a bit more dynamic and interesting could have been done for bosses. Instead, once players figure out the boss's "puzzle", then the fight quickly devolves into repeating a process three or four times.

The pacing also suffers due to game's adherence to the "rule of numbers". Whenever progress is blocked, three or more tasks are required in order to progress. In order to enter the main villain's tower, War has to bring the hearts of the four chosen to the archangel Samael. Inside one of the early dungeons, he has to drag three ceremonial swords to a specific location, to unlock the path to the boss. A later dungeon requires the deaths of five large spiders. Upon finally reaching the tower, War must enter three spires, fight the same mid-boss three times, and work through a convoluted process involving portals and beams of light…thrice. The four hearts can be excused since they require the hero to explore various lands and deal with the fiends that inhabit them. Everything else is just padding. Spending what feels like hours in a single dungeon performing menial labour gets tiresome.

Screenshot for Darksiders: Warmastered Edition on Xbox One

All that said, this game succeeds where it counts. It's a fun adventure with a really neat fighting system. The puzzles, though exhausting, are clever and suit the game's style of play. The combat serves as a fine break, allowing players a chance to clear their head for a few minutes. Going back to previous areas with new abilities is always a treat as well. In hindsight, there are aspects that hold the game back from greatness, but they're not really noticeable while playing through it.

The "Warmastered" edition has a few positive and negative qualities. The graphics have received a startling infusion of colour. The game is a lot more vivid, but in a way that looks visually consistent, not garish. The frame rate has also been dramatically improved. Aside from a few moments during cut-scenes, this edition runs at a very fluid 60 fps. The sharper image quality is also welcome. There are some graphical glitches though. Certain special effects have a habit of "imprinting" themselves outside of their intended sources. It's like seeing the flames of a torch on-screen, but not the actual torch. It's a little distracting, but nothing game breaking. There also seems to be a number of missing sound effects. When using items like the abyssal chain, the player is often treated to silence. It's a head-scratching oversight.

Screenshot for Darksiders: Warmastered Edition on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is a decent port overall. There aren't any particularly major issues, though the audio-visual errors might be a little jarring. The boosted frame rate and image quality are well worth the trade-off, especially for fans of the previous console version. The game itself isn't spectacular, but it has some great ideas and solid execution. The presentation is also quite good. While its last gen roots are clearly showing, this game still showcases an impressive atmosphere. The cut-scenes and voice acting are top notch. Action-adventure fans might find a lot to like here.

Developer

Nordic

Publisher

Nordic

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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