Darksiders is a gaming magpie. Sure, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse scenario might be fairly unusual, but it pilfers ideas from gaming’s greatest hits for almost everything else.
The combat smacks of God of War and Devil May Cry. Zelda-isms are everywhere, from the quest-giving characters and puzzle-strewn dungeons to the projectile-throwing and plentiful treasure chests
But even more than its predecessor, Darksiders II reuses others’ ideas to create a game that – far from being a lazy copycat – can stand tall on its own merits.
This time around the player controls Death, who is taking a break from reaping and playing chess with Bill and Ted to clear the name of his brother War with the aid of his spooky steed and an arsenal of improbably large melee weapons.
As you’d expect given Death’s track record in slaughter, the game’s nimble combat lies at the heart of the game. Things start with basic hacking and slashing but thanks to a steady drip-drip of new skills, weapons and moves evolves into a system that is packed with depth but never compromises on fun.
The honed approach to progression is echoed in the many puzzles Death has to solve during his journey. The simple ‘press button to open door’ beginnings evolve into increasingly challenging tests, but always in a gradual step-by-step progression rather than in giant leaps of difficulty. Just like the very best Zeldas, in fact.
Darksiders II packs in plenty of game for your money, too. The main story is supplemented with a huge choice of side quests across its sprawling worlds, and there’s an arena mode to truly stretch your fighting prowess.
On occasion the camera can mean you lose track of where an attacker is, but it’s a minor nuisance that never threatens to undo the game’s appeal. So while it might be short on truly original thinking, Darksiders II’s skillful recycling of familiar ideas has actually resulted in a supremely stylish and captivating action adventure.