In a year full of several complete HD collections of some of the best games from the previous generation of consoles, it’s a bit odd to see a remaster of a game one year after the remaster of its sequel. Following the 2015 re-release of Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition, that is exactly what we get in Darksiders: Warmastered Edition. First released in 2010 on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC, Darksiders is a game that is heavily influenced by games like Devil May Cry, God of War, and The Legend of Zelda. However, the game ended up being greater than the sum of its parts, and six years later studio THQ Nordic offers an updated remaster on this unique take on a visually engaging post-apocalyptic world full of visually stunning locations, intriguing puzzles, and a combat system that manages to be simple yet satisfying.
The story of the first Darksiders is ultimately one of redemption and justice. As War, one of the riders of the Four Horsemen, he is tasked with enforcing the will of the Charred council, an ancient body that maintains the balance between heaven, hell, and the human race. When the end of the world (Endwar) is prematurely activated, humankind becomes extinct, and War is blamed for being the one responsible for these events. After pleading his case with the council, he is given one last chance to find answers on Earth, redeem himself or die trying. While the story isn’t completely original, it does enough to keep players engaged with trying to find out who exactly is behind the apocalypse, and what exactly their goal is.
Darksiders Warmastered Edition: PlayStation 4, Xbox One [Reviewed], Wii U, PC
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Release Date: 22 November 2016
Price: £15.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Where Darksiders exceeds is through its gameplay, which is comprised of a mix of exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving. Each area on Earth looks quite different from the last, from the barren cities cluttered with vehicles and traces of human civilization, vast deserts littered with giant man-eating worms, and a metropolis covered in webs and spiders, each colourful zone looks and feels completely different from the last, and so the game is never dull and repetitive from a visual perspective.
The same could be said about the puzzles in the game, which borrow the same formula seen in most Zelda and Metroid games. Certain areas in the beginning of the game are only accessible once you obtain a certain item, making backtracking a necessity to progress the story as well as collect certain items and upgrades. Items such as the Crossblade, Tremor Gauntlet, and Abyssal Chain are given as rewards as you progress the story, opening up the game to interesting puzzles, a new way to traverse through the environment, as well as new ways to combat enemies and bosses. In this sense, Darksiders does an excellent job of rewarding players on a regular basis with new items, weapons, and abilities to keep the gameplay fresh and not repetitive. Puzzles become increasingly more difficult to reflect the myriad of abilities that War is given by the end of the campaign.
In between these moments of traversal and puzzle solving, War is be tasked with defeating the armies of both heaven and hell. Combat in Darksiders will be very familiar to those who have played any previous God of War or Devil May Cry game. Players will typically be locked in an inescapable room with enemies that range in size and numbers that won’t be unlocked until every foe is defeated. Players can lock onto individual targets to focus on a single enemy, or hit several enemies using his wide sweeping moves on his primary or secondary weapon. Combos are fairly simple with a combination of one or two buttons, and enemies that are weakened enough can be executed through a simple QTE. Eventually, enemies become varied and strong enough that War will have to utilise various weapons in his arsenal, as each has their own strengths and weaknesses when dealing with some of the stronger enemies.
Perhaps the biggest and most noticeable difference with Warmastered Edition is that the game has been graphically revamped to run at 1080p and 60 frames per second, which is much appreciated. The improved textures highlight the gorgeous scenery in many of the areas in the world, and having the game run at a smooth 60 FPS is a feature that is much needed for a combat system that is centered on being able to react and dodge/block enemy attacks in a timely fashion. However, the improved visual marks the beginning and end to the improvements seen in Warmastered Edition, as the game remains completely the same in all other aspects.
While Darksiders: Warmastered Edition lacks the enhancements and polish seen in HD remakes of other last-gen games, it deserves the attention from those who have not experienced War’s story the first time around. The budget price of $19.99 is a very fitting price for this remake. The price coupled with the visual improvements makes it a bit easier to overlook the shortcomings of the game that plagued it the first time around (such as camera issues and minor platforming problems). Warmastered Edition is a clear visual upgrade over its predecessor, but it’s not a complete overhaul. For this reason, there isn’t much that the Warmastered Edition offers to players who have played the game when it first arrived six years ago, but this is hands down the best option for those who haven’t.