Darksiders: War…huh?…What Is He Good For?

For the past few months, I have been suffering from something akin to gaming ADD. I keep jumping from title to title, not going through the steps, not building, not breaking down, and especially not completing any of the games that I had begun, which for me is a massive departure so I sought out a way of rectifying this issue. I thought about it for a while, then I came to the conclusion, what better way to stop my ever-proliferating procrastination than to commit to a series where I document my trials and tribulations as I traverse the hellish landscapes that lay within the Darksiders franchise?

I have only ever played one of these titles before now, so this journey I have set out on—with the single goal of completion—will be a journey mostly into the unknown. I completed Darksiders once before and it was a long time ago, so even the part of this journey that I do know is hazy at best. That is one of the reasons I choose this series, I always meant to go back and play it through, the parts I do remember were epic, and the scale of the game is quite literally biblical in its proportions. I recalled an insanely gory game that contained an otherworldly battle between the warriors of heaven and the demonic agents of hell and let me tell you I was not wrong.

From the very beginning, you are made readily aware of not only the stakes but the epicness of the tale at the heart of Darksiders. The tale I speak of is at first set in modern-day Earth, and you take up the role of War, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who finds himself in our realm in the midst of a battle between Heaven and Hell. This is where Darksiders gives us a taste of War’s power before stripping it all away when he is killed during the battle. After War’s demise, he is brought in front of the Charred Council, where the blame of the apocalyptic events is placed squarely on his shoulders.

A hellish scene, three faces made from charred rocks lay side by side in front of a fiery pit
The Charred Council

War makes a pledge to find the real perpetrator and is sent back to do so, and upon returning he realizes that a century has passed and the world now lays in ruins. The Destroyer leads his armies in the destruction of humanity, conquering not just the forces of man, but also decimating the forces of heaven, leaving but a few Angels on Earth, a small resistance against a mighty force, lead by Uriel. This is where Darksiders introduces the characters that will aide and guide you on your journey, one being The Watcher and the other being Vulgrim.

The former has been granted the power to eliminate you if you fail your mission and the latter will help you gain the tools you’ll need to survive this hellish journey you find yourself on. You purchase items in the gnarliest way possible, the currency being the souls of the ones you have killed along the way. It is this merchant of death Vulgrim who directs you to meet with Samael—a once-great demon lord—who will help you get into The Destroyers lair, but for a price. This is where you will be told to hunt down the Four Chosen—ancient beings of immense power—with the task of returning with their hearts in exchange you will gain entry into the Black Tower.

This is where the prologue ends and the real game begins, with the first head—or heart in this case—on the chopping block belonging to the Bat Queen Tiamat, who you quickly discover lives up to her name as she battles with the Gryphon you rode to your destination on—yes, it is as awesome as it sounds—this game does not hold back in any sense. Darksiders uses every bit of its biblical lore to make you feel the true magnitude of the events that are being portrayed on the screen. Now you fight your way through the Twighlight Catherdral, and the penultimate boss in this level is The Jailer, who at this early stage of the game doesn’t offer much of challenge. Like most hack and slash games, there is a clear formula for dispensing of the bosses.

On top of the Twighlight Cathdral War looks up at the hovering Bat Queen Tiamat
War prepares to do battle with the Bat Queen Tiamat

Now that The Jailer has been dealt with you, continue your fight to the top of the cathedral. It will not be long before you will do battle with the Bat Queen herself. Once again this battle is about figuring out the formula, like many other occasions in Darksiders, it is about timing and patience, with more than a smidgen of repetitiveness. Darksiders suffers from the same thing many games in this genre do, the whole hack, slash, repeat of it all can get a little bit boring at times, but I can assure you that the epicness of the overall game will and does overshadow that aspect, especially as the story unfolds and you get a wider arsenal of weapons to use to exact War’s revenge.

At first, you begin with War’s sword Chaoseater, and later you can procure a Scythe from Vulgrim, and as the game progresses you get your mitts on a boomerang-like throwing star, not to forget the magic-based Wrath powers you also have at your disposal. There is another weapon to unlock but that comes later in the shape of a badass revolver. The most immense of all the powers that War contains is his ability to take on his Chaos form, which is one of the most fun parts of the entire game. When you get done quenching your thirst with the blood of the Bat Queen, next up on this post-apocalyptic hit list is The Griever but to find The Griever first you must find the “Black Hammer” Ulthane.

War walks away from Ulthane as he pulls open the gates to the Hollows
Ulthane opens the gates to the Hollows.

To do this you will have to fight your way through the Drowned Pass, and onto the Anvil’s Ford, where you’ll locate Ulthane, resulting in a good old fashioned slobber knocker before you team up with the “Black Hammer” to fight against the Hellsgaurd. This little marriage of convenience begins a competition—a kill off if you will—between War and Ulthane. Next, you merrily dispatch the Angels using Redemption, which can only be described as an Angelic Chain Gun. With this, you quickly gain the upper hand in the competition, earning Ulthane’s respect and thus entry into the Hollows, where you will find The Griever.

It is on this trek through the Hollows that you encounter the other aspect of Darksiders, that being the mini-games that lay within the greater narrative. These challenges can become repetitive at times and more than a little frustrating, but even with that being said they are crucial for teaching you different aspects of the fighting style you will need to conquer the game as it increases in difficulty as the story progresses.

When you do finally get to what seems like the never-ending Hollows you get to take on The Griever. This is another one of those time it and you’ll be fine type battles, The Griever is big and makes for an easy target. Now that the monstrosity that is The Griever is dispatched this is where your journey comes to an end for the time being. Next up you will take your first steps out on the Dry Road before venturing out onto the Ashlands, where The Stygian King waits. It would be best not to keep him waiting.

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Written by Vincent Greene

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