Darksiders always felt like a bit of a mash-up of several revered franchises, in a good way. The sequel, if anything, adds a few more influences to its lists of credits, whilst still crafting a unique and streamlined experience.
The Zelda comparisons will again rise to the top, and boss fights will look to match God of War in scale, but it is Prince of Persia players that will feel the most at home, at least in terms of nimble movement. Playing as new protagonist Death, the second of War’s (of Darksiders 1 fame) four brothers, you’d be forgiven for thinking you are controlling a bulky, pale Prince.
Death scales walls and traverses perilous ledges with apparent ease. While it takes a bit of practice, with time, you’ll be negating harsh terrains Sands of Time style, minus the life-saving rewind feature. I blame my self-inflicted suicides on the inverted camera, which no doubt can be changed in the final version; nothing says certain death like looking down at your own demise in mid-air, when you should be clinging for dear-life to something above, but no matter.
In the one early level I played, combat felt basic, yet effective. It’s as simple as a light and heavy attack button, with the option to hold them down to generate power and press each in-time to execute devastating combos.
Death scales walls and traverses perilous ledges with apparent ease.
What to make of combat, is really up to the player. Death can equip two different weapons simultaneously; although, from what I saw, he only uses one at a time. I had a giant hammer mapped to the heavy attack button, and his stock dual daggers where activated by the light attack option. While he only used one at a time, having both equipped simultaneously allows for some well timed combos.
Weapons and other loot can be picked up and equipped immediately or sent to the easy to navigate inventory. It’s nice to be saved the hassle of having to go into the menu every time you want to equip a new item, but to also have the option to stash it away for later.
I saw but a glimpse of the elementary RPG elements to the inventory, with plenty to explore and a basic system that has “green” representing improvement and “red” signally a decrease in ability. There’s more to it than that, but it’s a quick and easy way to see where a new item will assist you, and in what areas it may leave you more vulnerable.
Does it have more green numbers than red numbers? Yep -- perfect.
The demo culminated in an exciting boss battle that will come as a surprise to anyone who played the original, particularly so early in the game. To say anymore would risk mail-bomb threats from spoiler nazis.
From our earlier preview, I’m told that the game is roughly split into a 50-50 mix of combat and puzzle solving, which is the perfect balance, as it might otherwise struggle from a serious case of button-mashing-itis. I like the simple RPG elements, the easy to use inventory system and the basic combos, but too much hack and slash can deter anyone.
Fortunately, the possibly limited combat -- although I assume it gets deeper as you progress -- should hold up against the stronger aerobic wall-runs and much teased puzzles.
It’s been delayed two months until August to add a bit of polish and possibly bring it within two months of the Wii U’s launch (we’ll see about that). How it’ll use the touchscreen or oversized tablet controller is anyone’s guess, but the Prince of Persia-esque gameplay alone opens up a world of possibilities.
By Ben Salter - Bio