|This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (August 2016)|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
Darksiders is an action role-playing hack and slash video game developed by Vigil Games and published by THQ Nordic. 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 PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on January 5, 2010 in North America, January 7, 2010 in Australia, January 8, 2010 in Europe and March 18, 2010 in Japan. The Windows 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.
In Darksiders the player takes control of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in third-person perspective and 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 impede 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.
Since the beginning of time, the Kingdoms of Heaven and Hell have waged war, with neither side ever being able to gain an advantage over the other. Thus, in time, a mediator group named "The Charred Council" arose to maintain order and balance; to this end, they created a warrior brotherhood, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (War, Death, Strife, and Fury) to intervene and enforce their laws where and when necessary. Amidst the conflict, humanity emerged. Foreseeing that humans would be integral and contribute to the balance's stability, the council declared them a third Kingdom, the "Kingdom of Man." The Council brokered a truce between Heaven and Hell: the Seven Seals were created to be broken when the Kingdom of Man was ready for the Endwar.
In the present day, War (Liam O'Brien) arrives on earth where the final battle appears to have begun; armies of angels and demons wage war with mankind caught in the middle. Confronting Abaddon (Troy Baker), the general of Heaven's army, War discovers that the other Horsemen have not arrived and the Seventh seal has not been broken. Surprised by War's presence, Abaddon is killed by the demon Straga (Troy Baker). War battles Straga and is defeated, but is saved from death by the Charred Council (Fred Tatasciore). The council accuses War of destroying the balance by bringing about the Apocalypse prematurely, aiding in the destruction of Mankind, and siding with the forces of Hell. War protests his innocence and demands a chance to find the real culprits. The Council agrees on two conditions: he lose his former power and be bound to one of their servants, The Watcher (Mark Hamill), who has the power to kill him if he strays from his mission.
War returns to Earth, where a century has passed since the forces of Hell, led by "The Destroyer," annihilated humanity and the armies of Heaven. What remains of Heaven's armies have been stranded on Earth and formed into a meager resistance led by Uriel (Moon Bloodgood). War greets the demon merchant Vulgrim (Phil LaMarr), who tells him that the Black Tower is The Destroyer's lair, and advises War to seek out Samael (Vernon Wells), a once powerful demon lord, for assistance. Samael explains that four demons called "The Chosen" guard the Black Tower, and asks War to slay them and bring him their hearts in exchange for gaining access to the Tower. While doing so, War meets Ulthane (J. B. Blanc), a skilled blacksmith from a race called "The Makers". Initially fighting each other, they are forced to defend themselves from Uriel and her Hellguard who hold War responsible for Abaddon's death and their defeat. Confronting the last guardian, War discovers that The Chosen were not meant to defend the tower, but to prevent Samael's return. Regardless, War brings Samael their hearts and the restored demon honors their deal, sending him to the tower, saying they will meet again.
Inside the tower War finds Azrael (Keith Szarabajka), the Angel of Death, imprisoned. Azrael confesses that he and Abaddon conspired to bring about the Apocalypse early, fearing a delay would risk Heaven's defeat. However, Abaddon's death ruined the plan. Having found the proof he needs, War decides his mission is complete but The Watcher decides otherwise, citing the Destroyer must die for balance to be restored. War obliges, facing and slaying Straga to free Azrael.
Freed, Azrael saves War as the Tower collapses, and takes him to the Garden of Eden. Heeding his advice, War visits the Tree of Knowledge to see how to defeat the Destroyer. The Tree gives War a vision. After dying, Abaddon was sent to hell and offered a choice by an unknown entity: to serve in Heaven or rule in Hell; choosing the latter, he becomes the Destroyer, and now guards the unbroken Seventh Seal. The Destroyer plans to lay siege to Heaven. Uriel leads the Angels against him and is defeated. The charred Council is shown to have been aware of the conspiracy, but knew the Horsemen would not act without proof. Thus, the Council allowed the Apocalypse to start early, summoning War themselves, knowing he would track down and kill the conspirators to clear his name. Finally, War sees himself being taunted by The Watcher and fatally stabbed in the back with a sword. Azrael deduces the sword is the Armageddon Blade, a weapon 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, challenging him. War is victorious but spares her, and reveals the Destroyer's true identity. Grief-stricken and enraged by this knowledge, Uriel leaves to prepare the angels for battle. Collecting all of the sword fragments, War returns them to Ulthane who reforges the Blade. Meanwhile, Uriel and the Hellguard attack the Destroyer and fall as predicted. In the aftermath, War confronts the Destroyer and is given the option to join him. War refuses, battles the Destroyer and emerges victorious after killing him.
War retrieves the Seventh Seal, but is subdued by The Watcher who takes it to prevent him from returning to his full power, knowing he will turn on the Council for their betrayal. Uriel intervenes, taking the Armageddon Blade and stabbing War in the back as predicted, fulfilling the oath of their earlier duel, and breaks the Seventh Seal. The shattering of the Seventh Seal restores War to his original power, and frees him from the Council's control. The Watcher threatens that Heaven, Hell, and the Council will chase him before War kills him. Uriel is grateful to War, saying his actions have repaid any harm he caused the angels but warns that her duty will likely require her to fight him once again. Consequently, she warns War that he cannot stand alone against the armies of both Heaven and Hell to which War replies by saying that he is not alone and three riders are seen in the sky headed toward him as the game ends.
The player controls War, the first 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 uphold 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.
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Darksiders was originally subtitled Wrath of War.
Creator Joe Madureira is planning a comic book series and a possible film adaptation for the game. Madureira has been reportedly working on the screenplay and may sell the rights to a Hollywood studio.
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 an 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.
Darksiders has sold over 1 million units worldwide.
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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