Joe Madureira (creative director)
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
NA January 5, 2010
|Genre(s)||Action-adventure, hack and slash|
|Distribution||Blu-ray Disc, DVD-ROM, download|
Darksiders, originally subtitled Wrath of War, is an action-adventure hack and slash video game developed by Vigil Games and published by THQ. The game takes its inspiration from the apocalypse, with the player taking the role of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The game was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 5, 2010 in North America, January 7, 2010 in Australia, January 8, 2010 in Europe and March 18, 2010 in Japan. The PC version was released in North America and Australia on September 23, 2010 and in Europe September 24, 2010. A parallel sequel was released on August 14, 2012.
Darksiders is an action-adventure hack and slash video game in which the player takes control of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. In third-person perspective, the player engages in combat, puzzles and exploration. The world is divided into separate locations with many areas initially inaccessible until War regains many of his lost weapons and abilities. The center of the world, The Scalding Gallow, acts as a hub where War is given new objectives and paths to further unlock new areas. Each contains a series of linear and non-linear paths, many of which require large sections of platforming, climbing and swimming along with environment-based puzzles that impair progress and require the use of newly gained abilities. He fights mainly against angels and demons, and has a unique way to kill each particular type of enemy, usually tearing them apart painfully.
Although War is initially limited to the use of his two-handed signature sword, Chaoseater, he will eventually obtain other weapons throughout the course of the gameplay. He also has a Scythe, which he uses as his other main offensive weapon. Also, each weapon has different combinations of attack that can be obtained throughout the game. Along with combos, players are also encouraged to use countering moves, blocks and swift dodging that help against different enemies. Projectile weapons such as a revolver and a boomerang-style throwing blade (War's Crossblade) can also be used in both combat and long-range shooting. A number of objects are littered throughout the environment and can also be used as weapons and projectiles. At a later point in the game, War gains the ability to summon his own fiery horse, Ruin, that provides faster movement and much more powerful attacks in open areas against demons and angels.
Along with weapon-based attacks, War can also use an array of magic-based attacks, known as Wrath powers, that are both offensive and defensive in nature. The amount of Wrath powers available are determined through a separate meter, just below the health bar. War has four major Wrath powers: Affliction, Blade Geyser, Immolation, and Stoneskin. War uses a combination of his Wrath powers and his weapon attacks when he engages a boss or a resistant foe that can only be put down through brute force.
War's most powerful ability is that he can transform into his Chaos Form: which transforms him into a large, fiery and extremely resistant entity that can cause heavy damage. This form is unlocked after sufficient progress in the game is made, and can be activated once War's Chaos meter is completely filled via combat with enemies. His Chaos Form, however, only lasts for a short while as his Chaos meter drains rapidly as soon as he is in his Chaos Form. War resorts to this form only when he is fighting the toughest bosses.
When enemies are close to defeat, War can perform an elaborate and violent finishing move at the press of the indicated button on screen, instantly killing the foe. Some of the larger foes can be briefly ridden and steered into other enemies before being finished off themselves. War eventually encounters large boss opponents that are both giant in size and deal heavy damage, and are themselves puzzle-based battles requiring certain methods and certain weapons to defeat them, and in some cases quick time button events to dodge or deal attacks.
Upon defeat, different enemies expel souls that provide different benefits. There are three types of souls throughout the world of Darksiders: green souls that fill the health bar, yellow souls that fill the Wrath meter, and blue souls that are the game’s form of currency. These blue souls can be spent at "Vulgrim Locations" on things such as new combo attacks, enhanced Wrath powers, power-ups, and potions. There are also artifacts scattered throughout the world that can be exchanged for more blue souls, with bonuses for completing each set. Additionally, souls of each color can be obtained by opening chests found throughout the world. Other items that can be located include wrath core and lifestone fragments, whereupon collecting four, War's Wrath or Health, respectively, are permanently increased.
A war has raged between the Kingdoms of Heaven and Hell since the dawn of creation with neither side gaining the advantage over the other. Drawn to the unchecked conflict, a mediator group, named "The Charred Council", arose and dedicated themselves to maintaining order and balance in order to preserve the very fabric of the universe. To this end, they created a brotherhood, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (War, Death, Strife and Fury), to intervene and enforce their laws among both forces where necessary. Amidst the conflict, the first humans emerged. The Council foresaw that humans, while weak, were also cunning and would be integral and contribute to the balance's stability not by their meager strength but by their intellect; thus, a third kingdom was named, the "Kingdom of Man". The Council brokered a truce between the Kingdoms of Heaven and Hell: the Seven Seals were created to be broken when the Kingdom of Man was ready for the Endwar where the Four Horsemen would ride into battle across Earth to punish the guilty, the pact would be forged anew, and the ultimate fate of the three Kingdoms decided.
In the present day, armies of demons and angels fall to Earth and the final battle begins, the two forces destroying everything in their wake. In the midst of the chaos, the Horseman War interferes to bring order. Upon his confrontation with Abaddon, the general of Heaven's army, War discovers that -to his confusion and shock- the other Horsemen have not arrived and the Seventh Seal, the seal of the Four Horsemen, has not been broken. Straga, a powerful demon and servant of a being called "The Destroyer" who leads the armies of Hell, arises from the ground and kills Abaddon. War battles Straga and is defeated, but is saved from death and sent to The Charred Council for judgement; the Charred Council accuses War of destroying the balance by bringing about the Apocalypse prematurely, aiding in the destruction of the Kingdom of Man, and siding with the forces of the Destroyer and Hell. Thus, the Council sentences him to death. A defiant War protests his innocence and demands a chance to find the one responsible for starting the Apocalypse prematurely and to restore balance. The Council agrees, on the condition that he loses his former power and strength with which he was formerly "summoned" along with being bound to one of their keepers, The Watcher, who has the power to kill War if he forsakes his servitude to the Charred Council and in the event that he strays from his new mission.
Upon returning to Earth, War discovers it has been a century since the Destroyer led the forces of Hell to victory and annihilated the unprepared Kingdom of Man and the armies of Heaven, save for a meager resistance, named "The Hellguard", which is led by the angel Uriel. Heeding the orders of the Charred Council, War gives audience on behalf of the Council to the conniving demon merchant Vulgrim and learns from him that the Black Tower is The Destroyer's lair; Vulgrim advises War to seek out Samael, a once powerful demon lord, for assistance in getting into the Tower. Samael explains that four powerful demons, named "The Chosen", guard the Black Tower, and he asks War to slay them and bring him their hearts in exchange for gaining access to the Tower. On the way to slay the second guardian, War befriends Ulthane, one of the Old Ones, whom War fights initially before succeeding in defending himself and Ulthane from the interfering Uriel and her Hellguard (who seek to kill War because they hold him responsible for Abaddon's death and the premature Apocalypse, which has left them barred from returning to Heaven). When War confronts the last guardian though, Silitha, he discovers that The Chosen never protected The Tower -their purpose was merely to stop Samael's return to power at any cost. Regardless, War brings Samael The Chosen's hearts as proof of their deaths and, upon receiving the final heart, Samael honors his word and sends War to the Black Tower, remarking that they will meet again.
At the Tower, War encounters Azrael, the Angel of Death, imprisoned there. Azrael confesses that he and Abaddon conspired to bring about the Apocalypse ahead of time, fearing a delay would risk Heaven's defeat; however, the plan failed with the unexpected death of Abaddon. Now that War has proof that he did not cause a premature Apocalypse, he decides that his bargain with the Charred Council is complete; but The Watcher decides otherwise, citing the Destroyer must die for balance to be restored. War obliges and on his way out of the Black Tower, he encounters and slays Straga, avenging his earlier defeat.
Azrael, now freed following Straga's death, saves War as the Tower collapses, and takes him to the Garden of Eden. He tells War that the Tree of Knowledge can reveal to him how he can defeat The Destroyer. The Tree gives War a vision: after Abaddon was killed, he was taken to Hell and offered the choice by an unknown entity to serve in Heaven or rule in Hell. Abaddon chose the latter and became the Destroyer, guarding the unbroken Seventh Seal. The vision also predicts the Destroyer plans to lay siege to Heaven; Uriel will lead the Hellguard against him and be defeated. The Charred Council foresaw these events, and concluded that only the Horsemen could stop the conspirators, but knew they would not carry out their mission, without justice (since they would be killing for something they were planning to do rather than an actual crime) and would never lower themselves to become assassins. Thus, the Charred Council allowed Abaddon and his allies to start the Apocalypse early and summoned War so they could accuse him, knowing he would do anything to clear his name, inevitably killing the conspirators. War also sees a vision of himself being taunted by The Watcher and then being stabbed through the back with a large and mystical sword. Azrael deduces the weapon is the Armageddon Blade, capable of slaying the Destroyer, and tasks War to find the shards of the blade and take them to Ulthane to reforge it.
Uriel confronts War a second time, this time challenging him to Nex Sacramentum, a sacred duel that is only decided with the death of one of the challengers. War is victorious but spares her, despite the urging of The Watcher and Uriel's insistence that he had the oath of the duel to fulfill. He promises Uriel that her death will be at a time of his choosing and reveals the Destroyer's true identity. Grief-stricken and enraged by this knowledge, Uriel leaves to prepare the Hellguard for battle. Once War collects all of the sword fragments, he returns them to Ulthane so he can reforge the Blade. Meanwhile, Uriel and the Hellguard attack the Destroyer, and as predicted, they fail. In the aftermath, War confronts the Destroyer and is given the option to join him. War refuses and battles the Destroyer, who reverts to Abaddon when War destroys his demonic form with the Armageddon Blade. War duels with the angel and defeats him. Beaten and humiliated, Abaddon reaches out to Uriel for help; she bitterly replies "Reap what you have sown, betrayer" and lets War kill Abaddon.
War then retrieves the Seventh Seal, but The Watcher uses his power to subdue him and steal the Seal from him; fearing that the wrathful War could potentially turn on the Charred Council and him should the final Seal be broken, the Watcher mockingly reveals that he was ordered by the Council to kill War after his mission was complete. However, as The Watcher is about to kill War, Uriel takes the Armageddon Blade and stabs War through the back-as the Tree of Knowledge foretold-to fulfil the Nex Sacramentum death oath declared earlier, and then breaks the Seventh Seal. The shattering of the Seventh Seal resurrects War anew and restores his original powers and life, freeing him from the control of the Charred Council. The Watcher, now having no control of War, begs for his life and threatens that neither Heaven, Hell, nor the Charred Council will forgive War's transgressions before War finally kills the creature. Uriel now gratefully tells War that, because of his deeds, all debts have been repaid; but, nonetheless, warns him that her duty likely will require her to raise her blade against him again. As War walks away, Uriel warningly asks War if he will wage this new war alone; War holds up the shattered Seal and remarks, "No. Not alone" as the camera pans to three colored meteors falling from the sky, heralding the arrival of the other three Horsemen.
The player controls War, the second of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Along with the rest of the Horsemen, his sole duty is to be summoned to the Earth once the final battle of Armageddon begins. War is not aligned to Heaven or Hell but instead serves to bring order by the rule of The Charred Council, whose purpose is to maintain the balance between the two forces. He maintains a strict code of honor and will battle any obstacle in his way.
Throughout the story, War is bound to and accompanied by The Watcher, a warden sent by the Charred Council to watch over and guide War on his journey. Because of his assigned role, he is actually skeptical and cynical towards War’s actions, much to War’s anger. He relishes his duty and enjoys needling War and bossing him about simply because he can. War later employs the guidance of Samael, once a mighty and feared demon, now imprisoned, who himself seeks vengeance against the Destroyer, leader of the victorious forces on Earth. Many other characters become central to the overall plot, recurring at times. Among these is Uriel, leader of Heaven's armies after their first leader, Abaddon, was killed during a major battle; now stranded on Earth seeking vengeance against those she believes responsible. Another recurring character is Vulgrim: a demon merchant who provides gear and abilities for War in exchange for human souls. Finally there is Ulthane, also known as the Black Hammer, an "Old One" who first appears hostile towards War, but then the two quickly become friends; first after aiding War in getting into Griever's lair then making War's enchanted revolver and re-forging the Armageddon Blade for him. War is a powerful warrior with a strong sense of honor who will stop at nothing to gain revenge for being betrayed.
- Liam O'Brien as War
- Mark Hamill as The Watcher
- Phil LaMarr as Vulgrim
- Moon Bloodgood as Uriel
- Troy Baker as Abaddon, Straga, Tormented Gate
- Lani Minella as Silitha, Tiamat
- Vernon Wells as Samael
- Keith Szarabajka as Azrael
- J. B. Blanc as Ulthane
- Fred Tatasciore as The Charred Council
Darksiders has received mostly positive reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the Xbox 360 version 83.98% and 83/100, the PlayStation 3 version 83.13% and 83/100 and the PC version 82.57% and 82/100.
GameZone's Dakota Grabowski gave the game a 8/10 on both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, saying "THQ and Vigil Games did an outstanding job creating an intellectual property that has weight. The voice-acting is top-notch, the combat is exquisite, the replay value is high, and the world they have created is fascinating. Darksiders is a marvelous way to start out 2010."
Being overall positive, IGN saw the elements of Darksiders as a combination of three separate game franchises. Devil May Cry, God of War, and The Legend of Zelda games have been used to compare to the style of Darksiders.
The creator, Joe Madureira, is planning a comic book series and a possible film adaptation for the game. Madureira is currently working on the screenplay and can sell the rights to a Hollywood studio.
THQ creative director Luis Gigliotti revealed in a 2009 interview with GameAxis that Darksiders would be a franchise. Darksiders II was released in August 2012. War's brother, the Horseman Death, is the protagonist of Darksiders II.
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