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So awhile back, Cygan and I got into it about God of War where she was talking about how it really didn't fit the Greek mold and I argued against her. Upon reflection, she was right and I don't even know why I defended the game since I didn't even like it all the much, what with Devil May Cry having come out years earlier and done every gameplay aspect in a superior fashion.
God of War is popular though, and it helped inspire this little piece of intellectual vomit. See, Darksiders has been called God of War with the book of revelations, except with as many as liberties as God of War takes with Greek mythology, Darksiders makes GoW seem like a veritable historical record of the Greek myths.
We open with an explaining of the war between the angels and demons. Okay, so far so cool. Then we enter something called The Charred Council who doesn't want either side to win and wishes for a balance. With the Charred Council, the angels and demons agree on a truce.
Now, ignoring that there's no such thing in the bible to my knowledge why would either side co-operate? The Charred Council is basically forcing the two sides into a zero-sum game where nothing happens. Why do the angels and demons even pay attention to these guys?
So then man comes along and they help maintain the balance in some vague way.
Flash forward to 2010. The Apocalypse has started! Angels and demons in the streets! And so the Red Rider, War, gears up to help bring upon the apocalypse.
While there and tearing shit up, he meets two angels: Abaddon, angel of the bottomless pit, and Uriel (who seems to be taking his newly gained set of boobs and vagina quite well)
Now, I read revelations back when I was 16 for 'research' of anti-theist fantasy story starring a down-on-his-luck warlock who wasn't John Constantine, honest. I'll give that Abaddon's actually an angel that appears during Revelations. Let's sit down for some storytime, children.
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
Pretty powerful imagery. I want some of that shit St. John was on. Abaddon is a perfect chance to show a non-traditional angel (and this game is all about re-interpreting popular conceptions of Angels) Instead we get a basic Warhammer 40K look of an angel where you could be forgiven for thinking you set your TV's aspect ratio too wide if not for wispy hottie Uriel at his side. It's obvious that they've at least wiki'd the book of revelation but there's no reason for this character to be Abaddon other than a flimsy connection to the book most players wouldn't even appreciate. It would have been better to have the character be the Archangel Michael actually. Later on in the game, he's revealed to be dead. I'm calling it that he's actually the evil mastermind.
And for that matter, why is Uriel even a girl? And don't you dare say for Gender diversity or I will rip your tongue out. This game is about as concerned with gender representation in gaming as Rick Santorum is with sounding sane.
So, surprise surprise this isn't the apocalypse. It's just some totally different thing where angels and demons combat for the fate of earth. War is blamed for kicking off the apocalypse even though it's pretty obvious that the apocalypse was well under way before he got there. War says he was framed but doesn't really push the issue.
The Charred council gives him a slap on the wrist and says he has to fix things. He gets a not-navi who is basically Joker-Spawn. Joker-Spawn basically kicks him around to tell him that War is his bitch and War scowls but I'm not sure if that's because he's angry at Joker-Spawn or because he doesn't know how to smile.
We come to Earth a century after all humans have died and been judged... which means the good ones have gone to Heaven and the bad ones to hell. Ok, so the apocalypse has been solved. Can... Can we go home now?
Seriously, what are the stakes? I'm perfectly fine with a borked world to work in (like say Ocarina of Time) but that generally is because we want to unbork it. I guess War is going to kick the angels and demons off Earth but to what end? The world's still a dead rock and if humans are a part of the balance then he can't really restore it.
War then goes to meet with Samael who looks like Tenacious D's rendition of the devil. The demons all look disappointingly traditional. He then tells War he needs the heart of four chosen demons which is where the Zelda-style play comes in.
From here on there's less plot, but we do meet a guy who it's strongly suggested to be Thor. Now, I'm certainly not against mythology mash-ups (especially if they're like Shin Megami Tensei and I can have Ganesha, Ametarasu, and Nyarlathotep in my pokeballs) but this comes out of left-field and makes no sense. Oh well, at least he gives you a gun.
Then there's War himself. War is a twelve-year-old's idea of masculinity with no hint of emotion or anything interesting to him. I've often spoken of how Link actually is a character in the later games despite a lack of voice and this game proves how. While the beginning of each game hammers home core ideas (HE'S A SIMPLE FARMBOY for example) War is only defined by the fact that he kills shit, which is a totally unique idea for a video game character.
His lack of character is also pretty marked against Kratos or Dante. Kratos gives those visceral yells and grunts to help punctuate how brutal the combat is. Dante whoops and moonwalks to show what a blast your having. Both deliver character through the actions in gameplay but War just grimaces and keeps on doing what he does. if he doesn't give a shit about what he's doing, why should I?
Then there's his sword. Alex can correct me all he wants but this sword is just dumb. It's fine being big. It's even fine being a little jagged. My issue is those big faces jutting out. Call me crazy but wouldn't they get in the way of, you know, cutting things? Oh, and it's call Chaoseater which is retarded. What, it eats Chaos? Considering how many things of War's have the word Chaos in it Chaosbringer would have been a better choice. (Call me, Vigil Entertainment!)
I've met people who think War is awesome, but why? There's nothing there. No joy, no engagement, there's not even any angst. Just grim continuing. To be fair, what can you do with him? He's fucking War. Existing just to break shit is kind of his deal. Maybe there's a story in someone who wants to break out of that rut but it sure ain't Darksiders. Had I my way I'd probably had made an angel a playable character. (Probably Raphael)
Gameplay is alright, textbook plagiarized from other textbooks with nary an original thought. I don't mind the idea of taking from what I consider to be the greatest game series of all time and another I think is alright, but when my first item is a boomerang (actually a windmill shuriken but fuck you it acts exactly like a Zelda boomerang) I begin to wonder if these aren't those people who write the super-dark Zelda fanfiction where Ganon rapes Zelda or some nonsense. It is certainly functional and provided it's not technically borked, the Zelda model has lasted for the very reason that it's elegant and engaging and employs that 'ooh look at me I didn't need to use Gamefaqs'. It certainly not on par with any of the 3D Zelda games but it is functional and enjoyable.
The God of War aspect combat is alright, but a diplomatic man might call it inelegant. I'm not diplomatic so I'll call it a total mess of bullshit. The combat is exceedingly simple and I was hoping when I got secondary weapons we would get some more clever stuff but no. It's just wailing on the enemies while point the analog stick in a certain direction. Oh there's also a dodge button like in God Hand and Bayonetta but whereas those games where about elegance and precision and so had you move deftly to avoid the enemy this dodge button sends you flying halfway across the room, sometimes flying into another enemy.
Darksiders isn't exactly bad. It's technically competent but there's no stake or style in what it does. I'm tempted to call it Martin Chambers because what it is is a Pretender. It does nothing other games haven't done with more proficiency, style, and heart.