At last, I have completed my first journey with one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and I couldn’t be more satisfied. This journey all started with the revamped edition of the first Darksiders game.
I was drawn to play this series starting with this one when I saw a trailer with epic music and full of badass looking characters, especially War and then down the rabbit hole I went!
The nice thing about when you start the game is that it gives you a brief rundown of the backstory: Heaven and Hell at war, the Charred Council creating a truce between both sides and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to enforce the rules when necessary and maintain balance. There is a prophecy of an apocalypse or the Endwar only to be initiated when all seven seals were broken indicating humanity was also ready to fight. The seven seals also served to summon the Horsemen as well to intervene in the apocalypse. It would take humanity likely centuries to be ready for such a war
But, that’s not what happened. Instead the apocalypse has started early when humanity is caught in the middle unprepared. Only War, one of the Horsemen and the youngest who rides the red horse has shown up. At first I asked myself, how did he get there, why aren’t the other Horsemen present? Then he is saved from certain death from the Council who accuse him from starting the apocalypse too soon which has resulted the destruction of humanity. I don’t think War was trying to choose sides in this regard, but he claims he’s innocent and demands to clear his name by finding the real culprit.
With that, he starts off on his journey with a Watcher and minimal power to find the Destroyer who led Hell’s armies. Or so we think, more on that later.
The gameplay is the third-person hack and slash that I love from games with a similar combat approach. You can buy upgrades, moves, and consumables from Vulgrim the demon merchant. I feel like there was also a Dark Souls aspect present since when you kill enemies, you accumulate souls used for currency, health and wrath.
This game also surprisingly had a lot of puzzle elements to it that featured certain platforming or timing in order to cross a potentially dangerous area, or just reaching switches to stop the flow of lava from blocking a doorway you need to reach. Like, if you enter a room you will know there’s a puzzle to solve when a cutscene gives you a layout. I don’t mind puzzles, but sometimes in this game they became far too frequent for my liking and the Black Throne is guilty of that. It was still worth it though since I finally got the truth afterwards!
The only major flaw I found in the game was this one part in the Ashlands where you have to cross the open sand to each wooden platform without a Chronosphere to buy you time before the giant worm senses your presence. I never liked the concept in games where you have to stay off the main ground to avoid something that can eat you. You have to be on your guard and wait for the right moment before you can safely cross. After experiencing it, I felt like it was poorly designed.
Boss fights take a different approach than what I’m used to. Instead of attacking whenever you can until their health is depleted, you have to figure out their weak spot and get them from there. Some bosses did have notable weak spots while others could take hits anywhere. My favourite boss fight was the Stygian: a giant worm you fight on horseback. It’s fast, fun, and has an epic conclusion when you are victorious. Straga is another one I enjoyed as it felt like I finally got revenge and it was also satisfying when War bursts out of the demon’s face upon victory. Payback’s a bitch indeed!
Now, onto characters. Like I said, what drew me to this franchise was how cool the characters looked. Well, we have War our protagonist and what’s not to love about him? He looks sexy and cool. He also appears to be a very stoic Horseman who doesn’t talk much but when he does, he sounds like he has a strong sense of honor but he’s also quite stubborn. The Watcher is a little brat sent by the Council to shackle War, but I can’t hate him since hey Mark Hamill does his voice.
Vulgrim on the other hand, I love how sneaky he can be and I actually find his voice relaxing to listen to, he’s like my best friend already. There are some characters that just pop up and you already like them. Samael reminded me of Chaor and I was a little suspicious when he asked War to bring him the hearts of the Chosen.
But my favourite part of this game is when he slaps away the Watcher and encourages War to stand up that creature pulling his strings, and he does, giving the Watcher a hard punch in the process. Thanks Samael, though I still feel like he used me once Silitha revealed the true nature of the former wanting the hearts of her and the other Chosen, but at least he fulfilled his end of the bargain.
Ulthane I had a hard time liking at first, but it was fun competing with him and the angels, well Uriel is another one full of honor while Azrael brought too many feels inside upon learning the truth and I’ll get to that in just a moment. The voice-acting is really good! You don’t see that often in video games, it’s such an underrated talent.
After defeating Tiamat, there’s this part where Vulgrim begs War to have a glimpse of Tiamat’s heart and I just love that part for no reason. I don’t have a screenshot of it, but it was a pretty funny part where Vulgrim nearly reached for it and War snatched it away. In exchange, this is where Vulgrim gives War access to Serpent Holes which serve as a fast-travel tool. A good way to do some back-tracking for any shards or abyssal pieces you might have missed.
My other favourite part aside from Samael giving a good pep talk, was when War enters the arena in the Ashlands. A part that felt rewarding after that frustrating part of avoiding the worm. That phantom that taunts War, riding his own horse: War definitely gave that demon what it deserved for that and the insults he threw at him. The fact that he refuses to fight Ruin just shows he has a caring side too and I loved it how the Watcher was like:
Are you not entertained?
That was the only time that I liked him.
Entering the tower and working my way through it to free Azrael brought out some revelations. He had conspired with Abaddon and Ulthane to begin the apocalypse early, fearing that waiting too long for the Third Kingdom to grow, would allow Hell to grow stronger. To do this, they destroyed all but one of the seals, hoping it would prevent any intervention from the Council to send the Horsemen, but their plan backfired when Abaddon was slain during the apocalypse. This brought too much shock to me since it made me realize that War was innocent all along.
Of course, I was meant to think that killing the Destroyer would clear War’s name, but there was more to it than that and I realized towards the end that another conspiracy was present. After Abaddon was slain by Straga, he is given an offer by an unknown entity to serve in Heaven or rule in Hell. Choosing the latter, he becomes a monster known as the Destroyer. I kept asking, who is this that Abaddon spoke to that gave him this new power?
I want to think of him as the antagonist of this game since he is the one you have to fight in the end. But this game’s story has been playing tricks on me, making me believe one thing for more than half of my play-through, until a twist reveals it’s something else. If a game can do that to me and pull it off well, I like it.
Abaddon’s plans as the Destroyer afterward was to conquer Heaven, but after defeating him, I realized that the true antagonists of this game and perhaps all of the series in general, is actually the Council. Having learned of Abaddon’s conspiracy, they decide to set up one of their own, knowing the Horsemen would not intervene without proof. Thus they allowed the apocalypse to start early and sent only War to intervene. So why did they choose him? Did they know that War would do anything, including vengeance to clear his name?
It’s like they allowed War to go into the apocalypse alone and then throw the blame at him. I still don’t know much about the Council, but they come across as manipulative as hell and I loved how at the end of the game, the seventh seal breaks, War is revived and kills the Watcher to get his full power back. It seems that after that he has cleared his name but Heaven and Hell could come to hunt him again, and this time he will have backup. Now that the last seal is broken, it has called the other three Horsemen to join him.
So, what do I think? Well, Darksiders certainly brought in quite the intro for me. Things were hard to follow at first, but eventually the story began to catch on to a point where I couldn’t stop playing. I loved it, I was so desperate to help War prove his innocence and learn more about the other characters from both sides and in between.
I can’t wait to start the second game! See you next time.