This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2020)
Gunfire Games (Remastered)
Nordic Games (Remastered)
|Writer(s)||Paul De Meo|
|Engine||Havok-custom Phoenix Engine (Relic)|
August 14, 2012
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
Darksiders II is an action role-playing hack and slash action-adventure video game developed by Vigil Games and published by THQ. It is the sequel to Darksiders and was released in August 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and as a launch title for Wii U upon the console's Australian, European, and North American release in November 2012. The story follows the efforts of player character Death to clear the name of his brother, War, who stands accused of wiping out humanity.
A remastered version, titled Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition, was published by Nordic Games for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows in 2015, and ported to the Nintendo Switch in 2019. A parallel sequel, Darksiders III, was released on November 27, 2018.
Players take control of Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The core gameplay is an action role-playing hack and slash style. The game makes frequent use of interactive puzzle elements, requiring the player to think their way through a series of levers, doors, elevators, portals, etc. in order to traverse areas and reach objectives.
Maps are vast and each contain open world regions that can be explored freely on foot or by horse, along with numerous dungeons where quest objectives are generally carried out. There are main and side quests, with main and side boss fights. Worlds can be traversed via fast travel, whereby the player can teleport to certain map points instantly. While inside a dungeon, the player is allowed to fast travel back to the overworld while saving their dungeon location for continuation later without losing progress.
Death is aided by Despair, a horse that is available for use in open areas of the overworld for faster travel, and Dust, a raven that guides him to his objectives. Death's primary weapons are two scythes, one wielded in each hand. Secondary weapons include melee weapons like hammers, axes, and maces as "slow" options; "fast" options are generally gauntlet-style weapons that provide the player with claws and other bladed arm extensions, at the expense of less range and power than the slow weapons.
There are several different movement options, including swimming, running along walls, and climbing options that are available on specially placed wooden elements, such as wall pegs and beams. In the course of quests, Death acquires "Death Grip", which operates as a grappling hook on certain objects; and "Voidwalker". Other abilities like "Soul Splitter" and "Interdiction" are acquired, which allow the player to control multiple characters to traverse puzzle areas.
Health, Wrath, and Reaper resource meters display on-screen whenever they change, along with an experience meter that shows how close the player is to the next character class level. Wrath is the game's mana-type system, being a resource used for special abilities. Reaper is a separate resource used for the Reaper ability, and when full, Death can transform briefly into his grim reaper form, which is more resilient and deals more damage.
There are eight player statistics, including a character class level that increases at various experience levels. Each new level gives the player a skill point that can be used in a skill tree that contains new abilities. Other statistics can be increased by equipping items, with each item having various stat-altering characteristics. The player's inventory contains seven different pages of equipment classes (primary and secondary weapon, shoulder, armor, glove, boot, and talisman, with an additional page for quest items). New equipment can be acquired via enemy drops, looting chests, or purchasing from vendor characters. New combo moves can also be purchased from "Trainer" characters.
"Stonebites", which are colored stones hidden throughout the world, can be collected (after several quests have been completed) and traded to a character named Blackroot, in groups of three, in exchange for various permanent statistic upgrades. There are three Stonebite types, indicated by their color, and the particular combination traded determines which upgrade is received.
Money is dropped by enemies and chests, and can be acquired by selling items to vendors. Special "Possessed weapons" are rarely acquired, which provide another more unorthodox mechanic for trading in unwanted items, whereby the possessed weapon can be upgraded by "sacrificing" other lesser items to it.
This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (March 2020)
Darksiders II is parallel to the previous game. The Four Horsemen - War, Strife, Fury, and Death, the player character - are the last of the Nephilim, cursed fusions of angels and demons who waged war on all of Creation. To preserve the balance of the Universe, the Four, tired of conquest, received incredible powers from the Charred Council in exchange for slaughtering their kin. Death personally cut down the last of their brethren, Absalom, the first Nephilim; this earned him the title of Kinslayer, among others. However, he secretly preserved the souls of the Nephilim in an amulet, defying the Council, and gave the amulet to the Keeper of Secrets, also known as the Crowfather, for safekeeping.
While War is charged with his crimes, Death, sure of his brother's innocence, sets out on a personal mission to erase his brother's 'crime' and resurrect humanity. He first travels to the Icy Veil, a dimension between the three kingdoms of Heaven, Hell, and Earth, to seek the Crowfather for proof of War's innocence and the way to restore Earth. The Crowfather tells Death that he must go to the Tree of Life in order to restore humanity, and demands that Death take back the amulet. When Death refuses, the Crowfather attacks him in the shape of War. Death is thus forced to kill the Crowfather, but the amulet shatters and the fragments embed themselves in his chest, knocking him out and sending him into a portal created by the Crowfather's death.
Death wakes up in the Forge Lands, a world populated by the Makers, physically imposing beings who are the Architects of Creation. He learns that their world, and many others, has been overrun with Corruption, a dark force that has blocked off the Tree of Life and has taken over many of the Maker's constructs. The Makers had crafted a massive Guardian to combat the Corruption, but had to abandon it before finishing the task due to the surrounding threats. With the help of constructs and a Maker named Karn, Death eventually reaches the Guardian. However, upon activation, the Guardian is tainted by Corruption and goes on a rampage. Death battles the Guardian and destroys it, allowing it to be reassembled free of Corruption. The Guardian self-destructs in the grasp of the creature blocking the path to the Tree of Life, which allows Death to reach his goal. Upon reaching the entrance, however, Death is seized by Corruption and dragged into the Tree. There, Death is accosted by the shadowy form of Absalom, whose hatred lasted beyond his slaying at Death's hands and birthed the Corruption, enabling him to take his revenge on Creation.
Death is transported to the Kingdom of the Dead, where he encounters the merchant Ostegoth. From Ostegoth, he learns that he must find the Well of Souls in order to bring back Mankind, and to that end he must speak with the Lord of Bones. After completing an array of trials to gain an audience with the Lord of Bones, Death is transported to the City of the Dead to find a soul capable of telling Death what he needs to know about the Well. After facing off against a creature housing all of mankind's souls, Death meets the soul the Lord of Bones alluded to: the Crowfather's. The Crowfather tells Death that the souls of humanity are no longer bound in a host, but have been transported to the Well. Death learns that the Well of Souls has power over life and death, and that with it, the spirits of all things living are cleansed and renewed before they are sent out to be reborn. In order to access it, Death would need two keys: one kept by the angels, the other by the demons. Death asks why he and the other riders never knew of such things, to which the Crowfather replies that power must be tempered with ignorance; the Council feared that if the Horsemen ever learned the truth about the Well's power, they might try to resurrect their kin.
Death first seeks the key held by the angels and is sent to an outpost of Heaven called Lostlight, which is under assault by Corruption. At the Ivory Tower, he meets the Archon, who tells Death that his answers are in the Ivory Citadel, which has been claimed by Corruption. The Archon sends Death to Earth to bring back the Rod of Arafel, a powerful holy weapon, so that the way to the Ivory Citadel could be cleared. On Earth, Death encounters remnants of the Hellguard being led by Uriel. With their help, Death reassembles the shattered rod. After traveling to the Ivory Citadel and confronting its custodian, Jamaerah the Scribe, Death realizes that the Archon has possessed the key the entire time and that he has fallen to Corruption himself. Returning to Lostlight, Death confronts the Archon, kills him, and acquires the first key.
Death then proceeds to Shadow's Edge, described as a dark reflection of Lostlight. Upon arrival, he sees that the world itself is in the process of being devoured by Corruption. Intent on acquiring the second key, Death travels to the fortress home of the demon lord, Samael, but finds Lilith, a female demon-queen who created the Nephilim; thus she refers to herself as Death's mother, which he angrily denies. Death learns from Lilith that Samael is gone, but that he will be able to meet with the demon lord by utilizing a time portal. Before he leaves, Lilith urges Death to "follow [his] heart" and revive the Nephilim when he finds the Well of Souls. After traversing through the fortress in both the past and present, Death finally meets Samael, who is not willing to just hand over the Key. After testing Death in a fierce battle, Samael gives Death the demon key, saying that it should prove to be an interesting show no matter what. With both keys in hand, Death returns to the Tree of Life and has a penultimate meeting with the Crowfather, who reminds him that the fate of two races, humanity and the Nephilim, are at stake, and warns that Corruption has chosen a named champion to block Death's efforts.
Death enters using the keys and proceeds into the Well of Souls, where he is met by Absalom. Absalom taunts Death by saying that Corruption does not harm Death because he is already "blackened by the sin of betrayal". Absalom and Death battle, and Death defeats Absalom just as he did eons ago. The Crowfather appears one last time and explains that Death may tap the Well's power to restore one race, but a sacrifice is needed. Warned that choosing one race will forever doom the other, Death chooses to save War and sacrifices the souls of the Nephilim, still trapped in the scar on his chest, as well as his own, for humanity by leaping into the Well. An epilogue retells the final moments from the first game, with Uriel questioning if War intends to wage his campaign against the Charred Council alone, to which War replies "No, not alone". The scene then shows the arrival of the other Horsemen. The narrator states that "the number of the riders shall ever be four", and the Horsemen appear: War, Strife, Fury and, finally, Death.
In a post-credit scene, Lilith is seen being berated by a being who is completely in shadow (referred to by Lilith as 'my Prince', strongly suggesting Lucifer), angered that humanity has been restored and the Nephilim are lost forever. Lilith says she awaits punishment with a slight smile, but the entity states that "[she] will get no pleasure from it this time". The screen fades as Lilith screams in agony.
Development and release
After its critical and commercial success of the original game, THQ's creative director Luis Gigliotti revealed in an interview with GameAxis that Darksiders would be a franchise and that they were contemplating a sequel.
An article on the Official Xbox Magazine website confirmed that Darksiders II was expected to be released in 2012. Darksiders II became the launch title for the then-upcoming Wii U with modifications necessary to fit the controls of the Nintendo console as well as some new features unique to the console.
The game takes Death across multiple dungeons and city hubs. City hubs feature NPCs who can give out side quests etc. One city hub connects to a number of dungeons and one city area features more dungeons than the whole of the original Darksiders. Loot is also included, dropping from encounters as rewards ranging from 12 different armor piece categories, which can have different enchantments and may power up Death's Wrath Powers.
Michael Wincott provided the voice of Death. James Cosmo (who appeared as a priest in "The Last Sermon", a live-action trailer for the game)  provided the voice of Maker Elder Eideard, Death's guide throughout the story.
A remastered port of Darksiders II known as the Deathinitive Edition was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in October 2015. It was published by Nordic Games, which had acquired the rights to the Darksiders franchise following the bankruptcy of THQ. The port was developed by Gunfire Games, a studio that was founded by Darksiders creator David Adams following the closure of Crytek USA (which itself was established after the closure of Vigil by THQ) and consists almost entirely of Vigil staff. Along with higher-resolution graphics and a revamped lighting engine, the studio also made changes to adjust the balance of the game. The PC version was also released later in November. A port of the Deathinitive Edition to the Nintendo Switch was released in September 2019.
A season pass was available and included The Abyssal Forge (a story-driven installment taking place in the Shadow Lands), The Demon Lord Belial (another story-driven installment taking place on Earth) and The Maker Armor and Scythe Set. Argul's Tomb is another story-driven pack not included in the season pass. The Angel of Death Pack included new enhanced weapons and armor along with a new visual effect for Dust. The Deadly Despair pack offered a speed boost to Death's horse Despair. Various other DLC packs have been released offering weapons and armor much like the Angel of Death pack.
The Deathinitive Edition of the game, released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, include these story expansions as well as extra equipment.
Darksiders II received positive reviews. Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Wii U version 85/100, the PlayStation 3 version 84/100, the Xbox 360 version 83/100, and the PC version 81/100. IGN gave it a score of 7.5, saying that "despite its problems, I was compelled onward in my quest with Death because Darksiders II is simply a fun game".
The game was the best selling game in August 2012 with over 247,000 units sold in the United States. As of November 5, 2012, the game had only sold 1.5 million copies, with THQ stating that the game "did not perform to our expectations."
A third Darksiders game was originally planned by Vigil Games, but the fate of its franchise was threatened due to financial complications. Its parent company, THQ, filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The company's assets were sold at an auction, excluding Vigil Games, which was shut down along with the parent company THQ. In April 2013, THQ began a process to auction off the remaining IP that it had not yet sold, including Darksiders. Several companies publicly expressed interest in bidding for the franchise, including the Japanese developer PlatinumGames, and Crytek USA, a Crytek subsidiary led by former Vigil CEO David Adams, and primarily staffed by former Vigil employees. Adams had expressed interest in allowing Darksiders to come back "home" to its creators. Darksiders, along with Red Faction and MX vs. ATV, was purchased by Nordic Games in the final transaction of THQ's assets.
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