Darksiders 2 in the test - war was good, death is better

Author: Tobias Veltin, Daniel Matschijewsky
Date: 2012-08-14 18:00:00
The PC version of Darksiders 2 in the test: death, despair and ashes. Usually the ambassadors of suffering, fear and depression, in Darksiders 2 by Vigil Games they are the guarantors for the best action adventure of the year so far.

3 in the morning again. Another five hours that Darksiders 2 simply ate. Actually, we just wanted to complete one particular quest. But then we found a treasure chest on the map that absolutely wanted to be looted.

And then there was this one legendary item that we were looking for until we passed out. We also had to reach the next level of character to learn new skills. Plus the cool hero, the fantastic art design and this insane urge to soak up more and more of the game in us. But one after the other.

Death saves war

At the same time as the events of the first Darksider , war's brother Tod sets out to prove his innocence. We remember: In the first part war was accused of having conjured up the apocalypse and was condemned without further ado.

At the beginning of Darksiders 2, Death seeks out the Guardian of All Wisdom to find out the real reasons for the apocalypse. But the eccentric old man does not even think about telling Death the truth straight out of the box, but drumbles something about a "tree of life" and stands in his way.

Death finally defeats the guardian of wisdom, but is immediately catapulted into a kind of parallel world, the home of the creators. An ancient race that created entire universes with its power. But their own world is now on the brink, an evil power called "Corruption" has occupied large parts of the Creator planet. So, to get to the tree of life, death has a lot of work to do.

Fight, climb, puzzle

The basic gameplay has not changed compared to its predecessor. Darksiders 2 also impresses with a terrific mix of combat, exploration, climbing passages and puzzles.

Right at the beginning, death ends up in the creator city Dreistein. Mighty mountains tower up into the sky behind the rock city, smoke ripples into the deep blue of the sky. Here at the latest, every finger is tingling, we absolutely want to go on an exploration tour right away. The beautiful Alya, like all creators of huge stature, helps death on the way to the tree of life: First of all, he is supposed to get the creators' huge forge afloat again. For this he has to visit a fire and a water temple and from there - well, what? - Divert lava and water into the forge so that the shop starts to smoke properly again.

The story is driven by such extensive main quests, which we mainly complete in dungeons. These in turn are connected to one another by a large upper world. But the tree of life is not the end of the game, and the Creator Realm is not the only one that Death visits on his way. Even if you are rushing through the game quickly, you should plan a game time of at least 20 hours - not including side dungeons and additional tasks.

Lively Grim Reaper

Outwardly, Tod doesn’t have much resemblance to his brother Krieg, but rather resembles a crazy heavy metal singer with his long, dark hair, well-trained stature and characteristic mask.

Anyone who played the first Darksiders will quickly notice the biggest innovation in the game mechanics. Unlike his beefy brother, Tod prances nimble through the game world and moves much more elegantly. War could hold onto ledges and pull up.

But against death, which apparently effortlessly climbs up columns, nimbly climbs along tendrils and also walks nimbly along walls, the burly war looks as elegant as a living room cabinet wall from the 80s. As a result, Darksiders 2 plays a whole lot more dynamically than the anything but lame first part.

There is much to do

When we arrive at the first dungeon, the "cauldron", it's there again, that tingling in the fingers. The fire temple rises majestically into the sky, glowing lava bubbles in huge pools. But a creator is waiting for us in front of the entrance and asks Death to look for a lost item for him in the mine.

Darksiders 2 often works with such motivating additional tasks. The game is not limited to mini-tasks. In addition to the main dungeons, there are many sprawling secondary locations where Tod can go on a tour of discovery to his heart's content. The treasure chests with extra gold and objects hidden everywhere provide additional collecting mood.

Blocking is overrated

The combat system of Darksiders 2 is similar to that of the first part, but has an exciting new feature: A block button is completely missing. Even when fighting, Tod relies on his agility, hooks and rolls out of the danger zone at lightning speed when attacked, only to counter at the next moment.

Practical: We can target an opponent at the push of a button, which automatically moves death around him. The hero then strikes either with his standard weapons (two sickles) or a secondary weapon (selectable from claw gloves, axes, hammers, etc.).

Both weapons can also be combined in combinations to form powerful attack chains. Just like the entire movement, Darksiders 2's combat system is extremely intuitive; After a few minutes you have internalized all the relevant buttons.

The only problem: the mouse and keyboard controls are hopelessly overloaded. Especially the evasion in combination with Tod's special maneuvers causes knots in the fingers again and again. Our tip: grab the gamepad, it works perfectly.

Death learns

For successful fights and solved quests there is a hail of gold as well as experience points, which give death skill points. Then it goes to the character development of our apocalyptic rider.

The skills are divided into two talent trees. The messenger of death tree mainly improves combat skills. For example, death hisses through opponents with the teleport blow and fills his own with their life energy. The necromancer tree, on the other hand, is responsible for Tod's magical abilities. With the "crow feast" attack, for example, death summons a flock of birds that attack enemies. And when "exhuming", groaning ghouls crawl out of their coffins and attack Tod's adversaries. Darksiders 2 is also so flexible and motivating to play because the expansion of the talent trees actually affects the way you play.

Away from the fighting

In the dungeons not only hordes of opponents wait for Tod's sickles, the way to the goal is also peppered with numerous climbing passages and puzzles. The former are usually not a problem for death. With the ingenious climbing skills you have mastered even demanding passages in no time.

However, in such situations the camera gets a bit hooked here and there and in very rare cases is not optimally positioned. Then there is a risk of annoying crashes that are not your own fault. Training for the gray cells is more challenging and error-free than climbing. It gets tricky, for example, when we have to roll several balls into corresponding holes and doors and switches block our way.

You ponder for a while, but the subsequent wow factor and the childlike joy when the next door opens are all the greater. The learning curve and the increasing difficulty of Darksiders 2 are well balanced; the game never gets frustrated or even unfair.

On horseback

The world of Darksiders 2 is huge, the walking distances are long. So Tod's two helpers, the crow ashes and the glowing horse Despair, come at just the right time. Should we ever get lost in the corridors of the upper world or a dungeon and no longer know what to do, just press the appropriate button to send ashes into the air. It then flies with a loud croak to the next correct fork in the road or to the correct exit or passage.

Despair is available right from the start of the game and mainly serves the masked man as a means of rapid transportation. But that only works in the upper world, in the dungeons the nag stays in the virtual stable. Very lazy players use the new, practical fast travel function with which they can get from one place to one they have already visited in no time at all.

Old-fashioned, but stylish

Technically, Darksiders 2 is on a consistently high level, but without setting standards. Rather, the title is characterized by the unmistakable style of the American comic artist Joe Madureira.

The concise characters, the breathtakingly huge final bosses, the varied dungeons and of course the post-apocalyptic-crazy look of the main character Death ensure that the Darksiders world looks cool and works well. The successful effects also support this mood. The fighting and climbing inserts also impress with their buttery smooth animations. On the other hand, there are the sometimes muddy textures, low-detail shadows and the general lack of polygons - a fresh graphics engine would have done Darksiders 2 quite well.

There is hardly any reason for criticism when it comes to the sound either. All effects - from battle screams to the rattling of scythes or bosses' roar - fit perfectly. The English speakers also breath frightening life into their roles. A prime example of this is the main character Death, who is voiced by actor Michael Wincott (The Crow).

The German dubbing, on the other hand, falls off somewhat. For example, the funny Scottish dialect of the creators is completely lost. The overall acoustic package is rounded off by a catchy orchestral soundtrack. In short: death is addictive. And that's best noticeable in the morning at 3.