Darksiders is an action adventure game released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on January 5, 2010 in North America; for the PC, the game was released in September 24, 2010 in North America . Darksiders is Vigil Games' debut title, and is published by THQ (in North America and Europe) and Konami (in Japan). The game is loosely based on the book of Revelations in the Bible. Vigil took the concepts of the Four Horsemen, the Apocalypse, Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons, among other references, and created their own take and mythology on them.
Darksiders tells the story of War, one of the Four Horsemen who is blamed for the destruction of humanity in a premature battle between Heaven and Hell. The game sold well, estimated at 1.2 million units worldwide in the four weeks after release. Its success has led not only to a sequel, but also a planned film adaptation being written by Darksiders creator Joe Madureira.
The game received generally positive reviews. It obtained 83% on Gamerankings on both console platforms and 82% on PC; whilst on Metacritic the game obtained 82% on PS3 and 83% on both the PC and Xbox 360 platforms. Critics lauded the game for being the "dark Zelda" that Nintendo will never make; praising the voice acting, combat, environments, and puzzle design.
Notably, the Watcher is voiced by Mark Hamill. Additionally of note is the initial screen tearing issue that the Xbox 360 version suffered from (now fixed via a patch). Because of this, and minor framerate issues, the PlayStation 3 version had a slightly better initial reception.
Darksiders tells the story of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (the others being Strife, Fury, and Death), and his role in the aftermath of a premature Armageddon. Upon receiving a summon for the end times to begin, War throws himself into the midst of the battle between angels and demons and quickly finds out that he is the only Horsemen to have arrived on Earth. While fighting against both sides, War mysteriously loses his powers and is eventually beaten by one of the Destroyer's chosen, Straga. Confused and defeated, War is brought before the Charred Council, a neutral governing body responsible for upholding the ancient truce between Heaven and Hell, until the day the Kingdom of Man is strong enough to do battle in the end war. They maintain the balance of power between the three kingdoms, and the Horsemen are their enforcers.
The Charred Council summarily charges War with the untimely destruction of the Kingdom of Man, disregarding the Council's law, and upsetting the Balance. For his actions, War is sentenced to death. Rather than consign himself to oblivion, War demands he be sent back to the realm of Earth to discover who was behind the Apocalypse, so that he may clear his name, and restore his rightful status as a Horseman. If he should fail, the Council's justice would be satisfied.
Agreeing to these terms the Council grants War the use of his sword, Chaoseater. Before he can leave however, War is saddled with 'The Watcher', a demon entity who will act as the eyes and ears of the Charred Council, and with whom rests the power to destroy War at a whim. Upon returning to Earth, War discovers that 100 years have passed since the Apocalypse, and sets out on his quest to discover the truth behind what happened to his fellow Horsemen, why the Apocalypse was brought about early, and to what end these actions have been set in motion.
Earth is now a desolate wasteland, barely resembling its former shape. Humankind has long since crumbled, due to The Destroyer's army of demons. War begins his journey and soon meets Vulgrim, a Soul Trader who specializes in equipment, but also dabbles in information. He tells War to seek out the fallen demon Samael. Threatened by his great power, the Destroyer had Samael imprisoned, and if War sets him free, he would be inclined to help his endeavor.
To gain access into the Black Tower of the Destroyer, Samael tells War that he needs to fight the Four Chosen of The Destroyer, the tower guardians, and bring him their hearts. Along the way, Samael grants War some abilities to help him complete his quest. He even helps War tap into his dormant powers and assume his chaos form, at the expense of the Watcher getting a gauntlet to the face.
War sets out to find each of the Four Chosen. The first is Tiamat, the bat queen. On the path to the second of the Four Chosen, War meets Ulthane, an Old One and a legendary weapon-smith. After a small Pigeon (angel) killing contest, he asks War to prove himself by killing the Griever, second of the chosen. Upon his return, War finds that Ulthane has made him a gun; Mercy.
On his journey to find the Stygian, third of the Chosen, War comes across a demon arena. After some fighting, the demon leader emerges riding on War's former mount, the shadowy steed Ruin. War manages to defeat the demon lord but Ruin, not recognizing his friend and master, proceeds to attack him and knocking him around. The Watcher orders War to kill Ruin seeing as he seems to have lost his mind, but he refuses, and instead sets his sword aside and stands his ground. Ruin proceeds to charge at War and at the last second phases through him, having recognized him again. Thusly mounted, War becomes a Horseman again.
Before his fight with the last of the tower guardians, Silitha the Broodmother, she tells War that Samael was misleading him; the Chosen were not guarding the tower, but in fact were guarding against Samael's return to power. That power which the Destroyer stripped and placed inside the hearts of the Chosen. She warned that if Samael regains his power, War would find a bigger threat in him than all of the Chosen combined. War foolishly ignores her and proceeds with the fight.
After War returns all the Chosen's hearts to Samael, he boasts that he has become like a god, that he could kill War in an instant if he so chooses. Yet he still grants War passage to the Black Tower as promised as he empathizes with War's quest for revenge. Samael opens a portal to the tower and just before War steps through, the Horseman declares that they will meet again.
Finally in the Black Tower, War finds Azrael, the Angel of Death, imprisoned inside. He reveals everything about the events that led up to the premature battle between Heaven and Hell, about Abbadon's and Ulthane's involvement. Abbadon, Lord of the Hellguard angels, decided to launch a premature strike on the forces of hell and enlisted the others' help to break six of the seven seals that would start the final battle. The seventh, which if broken would call the Horsemen, was to be left intact. He was sure that his armies would decimate the forces of Hell before the war even began, and they would reforge the seals as if nothing had happened. It would look like Hell had started the war and Heaven responded. After all, who would the Council believe; Heaven's word or that of the "Prince of Lies"? However, they were surprised to discover that by the time the Hellguard arrived on Earth, the entire military might of Hell had already arrived, and thus, butchered the Hellguard before the rest of Heaven's armies could arrive, thereby winning the war in the name of Evil.
With these developments, War decides his deal with the Charred Council is complete; he was innocent. The Watcher decides otherwise, that War must do his duty to restore Balance and kill Azrael for breaking the Law of the Council. Instead, War proceeds to free Azrael, and defeat Straga, last and most powerful of the Chosen. Afterwards, Azrael takes him into the Garden of Eden to seek the Tree of Knowledge. There, War is granted the "gift" of truth and receives a vision. He sees the events that lead to the Apocalypse, the fate of Abbadon, and things that are yet to come.
When Abbadon was killed by Straga, he was surrounded in darkness and a mysterious, sinister female voice gave him the choice to "Serve in Heaven, or rule in Hell?". Abbadon chose the latter and took up the mantle of the Destroyer, now leading the forces of Hell and guarding the seventh seal. War also sees Uriel (Abbadon's second-in-command, who harbors romantic feelings for him and blames War for his death) leading the remaining Hellguard against the Destroyer, and failing. War is shown that the Charred Council foresaw Abbadon's plan for a preemptive strike. They needed to quell Abbadon's defiance but could not send the Horsemen against him and the others without proof since the seals were reforged. The Horsemen would see it as murder, not justice. War was known for his temper and pride, and the Council framed him knowing that he would "slaughter everyone in his way" to clear his name. Finally, he sees himself being killed, stabbed in the back by a large blade. As War recovers from the vision, he finds the handle of the same blade in his hand.
Azrael provides one more piece of wisdom before War sets out to face the Destroyer; the only weapon capable of killing The Destroyer is the Armageddon Blade. The same blade the angels used to break the seals, and Ulthane's greatest work. It was shattered by the Destroyer and hidden in the realm of shadows, War needed to gather the pieces and bring them back to Ulthane to make it anew. During the search for the pieces, War is confronted by Uriel, who challenges him to an ancient pact, an unbreakable vow that will not end until one of them has died by the other's hand. War defeats Uriel in combat, but spares her life to keep her as an ally - for now. Whether or not he wants to, eventually he is going to have to kill her or be killed by her to break the spell upon them.
With the completed Armageddon Blade in hand, Azrael sends War to face the Destroyer, a massive fiery dragon.
Abbadon offers that War join him, arguing the corruption of the Council and that he will be pursued by both Heaven and Hell. He gives War the same choice that he was given "Serve in Heaven, or rule in Hell?", to which War answers: "I choose what once a coward did not", and proceeds to fight, victoriously. Having killed Abbadon, War reaches for the seventh seal, but the Watcher constrains him and taunts him as he takes the Seventh Seal out of his reach, War's ticket to freedom. Seeing what is happening, Uriel stabs War in the back - simultaneously breaking the hold the Watcher has over him and fulfilling their death pact - and then breaks the Seventh Seal during a strike on the Watcher. In addition to severing the Watcher's right arm, breaking the Seventh Seal summons the Four Horsemen: this means that War is resurrected, all of his strength and power restored. Free of the Charred Council's control, War stands up and kills the Watcher. Now an enemy of Heaven, Hell, and the Charred Council, Uriel asks if he will fight the entire universe alone. War lifts the broken seal in his hand saying; "No. Not alone." Three comets streak across the sky, signalling the arrival of the other three Horsemen.
The combat centres primarily on powerful combos and specialty fatalities. War can equip a gear item alongside his primary weapon, allowing him to switch on the fly between the Crossblade and the Abyssal Chain, for example. Using powerful combos allows War to fill his Wrath Meter which he can then use to unleash powerful Wrath attacks. Wrath attacks include the Blade Geyser attack, where War stabs the ground and makes half-a-dozen blades come up from the ground and damage enemies around him; Stone Skin, which decreases the damage War takes, and increases the damage he dishes out; Immolation, which causes everything War touches to become engulfed in flames; and Pestilence, which slowly saps away surrounding enemies' health. War can also use special fatalities. For instance, War can jump from demonic bat to demonic bat, killing each one without touching the ground. War will also perform more stylized fatalities on bosses and mid-bosses without the need for the derivative quick time events. It should also be noted that War is actually invulnerable during these execution animations. The player can use this to advantage, interrupting the attacks of enemies in order to slow down the combat a little. An example of such an execution is shown in the Church dungeon area where War fights The Jailor, a massive hulk of flesh that smashes cages on the ground. War must attack with the Crossblade, targeting multiple weak points on his body to expose the smaller creature that is controlling the behemoth.
Environments in Darksiders are split between large hub areas that offer plenty of room for exploration and smaller, interior dungeon-like areas such as a subway system, derelict buildings and a church that is set up as a demon's central base of operations. War will traverse each of these dungeons killing bosses and mini-bosses to progress throughout the game as well as retrieving gear items. Gear items are featured equipment which War needs in order to open new areas within the large open hubs.
New equipment can also be purchased by selling souls collected by War's Soul Harvest ability to a Soul Trader Demon, Vulgrim. This demon will trade souls and artifacts, the only applicable currency in a post-human world, for new abilities, weapons and armor. These souls can be collected primarily in combat, but can also be found through exploration. Weapons can also be customized by collecting upgrades throughout the game. These upgrades can be equipped and swapped between War's arsenal of weapons. Armor can also be upgraded into the Abyssal Armor by finding the ten pieces throughout the game (the new armor is immediately worn by War upon finding the final piece). With this new armor, War also changes in appearance, from his red, blue, and black, to a more bad-ass gray and black with red-eyes. Health and Wrath capacity can also be increased by collected containers scattered throughout the world, defeating main bosses, and from Vulgrim.
Weapons and armor aren't the only thing at War's disposal, for he can call on his spectral steed, Ruin. War is able to summon and dispel him on the fly with the touch of the shoulder buttons, and enables him to traverse areas he could not on foot. Ruin has access to a dash ability. War's sword attacks also increase drastically in power while he is on Ruin. War's sword, Chaoseater, accumulates chaos as he kills enemies. Once it is full, he can then transform into a large and powerful form (his Chaos Form), for a limited time, and can lay waste to most enemies with ease.
There are three types of souls that can be found in the world of Darksiders, and they can either be found inside chests (the type of soul inside each chest will be clearly identifiable by its color), or collected from enemies upon their defeat:
- Green Souls - these fill the Health bar.
- Yellow Souls - these fill the Wrath meter.
- Blue Souls - the game’s form of Currency.
The Lords of Heaven are far less numerous on Earth than their demonic enemies, and they have been fighting to take back the dead Earth ever since the Apocalypse. Normally the Lightsiders are only the enemies of evil, so they would ignore a neutral party like a Horseman, but they think War is personally responsible for the End of Days, and they're none too pleased about it.
- Angel Soldier - Airborne soldiers, armed with a halberd.
- Angel Champion - Champions of Heaven that still roam the skies, sworn to fight Hell's legions by vengeance.
- Angelic Beast - Angels use these as a form of heavy support. War can 'hijack' the Beast to fly to otherwise unaccessible areas.
- Storm Warden - Heaven's flying squadron, they carry Redemption Cannons.
- Dark Angels - Fallen Angels corrupted by the Destroyer's dark power.
The Dregs of Hell, enemies of everyone else in the universe. These Darksiders won the premature End War and now control the dead Earth, battling the forces of good, the representatives of neutrality, and each other, in a never-ending quest for more power.
- Ashworm (or Ashcoil)-- Huge creatures that lurk beneath the ashes of the dead in the Ashlands.
- Baby Ashworm - Smaller killable ashworms.
- Abyssal Rider - Dark riders, the Destroyer's cavalry.
- Broodling - Little spiders, the demonic offspring of Silitha.
- Brood Guardian - Large spiders with a hard carapace that must be removed with War's Abyssal Chain before they can actually take damage.
- Shadowcaster - A snakelike Demon with sorcerous powers.
- Duskwing - Giant bats driven by a thirst for blood, they gather around Tiamat.
- Fallen - Large winged demons able to fly, a twisted version of the Angels they once were.
- Gholen - Enormous creatures with flaming hands; they are able to rip up sections of road and throw cars.
- Minion - Pack hunters who chase down their prey and attack with their clawed hands. There are several types of Minions.
- Phantom Guard - Fallen angels who still bear the stunted and useless stumps of their wings, and bear sharp blades. They form the backbone of Hell's legions.
- Swarm - Earth's locusts transformed into something bigger and terrifying. They are considered to be the Griever's pets.
- Shadow Lurker - Invisible entities resembling a large eye; they often trap Tormented Gates. Although they are incredibly physically weak and are personally defenceless, War cannot directly attack them until he's fulfilled the conditions of the challenge that protects each Lurker.
- Trauma - massive creatures, even slightly bigger than Gholens. Trauma has gigantic crushing claws.
- Wraith - Creatures masked in shadow. They float on the wind, looking for prey.
- Grappleclaw - A very dangerous foe; they are large and brutish, fast and deadly, and can certainly take chuncks out of the health bar given the chance.
- Goremaw -- Hand-like demons that hang from ceilings.
The reanimated corpses of the dead, these mindless creatures seek nothing except the destruction of any and all creatures who aren't evil. They don't get around much since all the humans died hundreds of years ago and only demons are left on the Earth, leaving the undead without much to do... until War arrives, that is.
- Wicked - Those evil humans who were not taken when the Rapture came, now wander the Earth in their torment.
- Skeletal Warriors - Skeletons armed with enormous swords or axes who seek to rend War in twain. Though their weapons remain in the environment after they are killed, they cannot be interacted with by War.
- Undead Shield Lord - Skeletons in huge ornate armor, able to deal and take massive amounts of damage using their armor.
- Rot Mauler -- A hulking, decaying zombie; it emits toxic gas and can take a large beating. It is a very, very good idea to keep away from these guys, taking them out with the Crossblade, or, if possible, Mercy.
- The Jailer - Later in the game, this former mini-boss starts appearing as a powerful common enemy in the Dry Road area.
- Gentleman Zombie - Visually identical to one of the Wicked, the Gentleman Zombie, also known as "Wicked K", wears a top hat, has a cigarette holder dangling from his mouth, and carries a cane. He appears in four locations throughout the game, and then only after a different requirement is met for each one. Speaking in a British accent, he challenges War to duels, at which he is surprisingly adept, using his cane as a sword and his hat as a projectile weapon. Defeating the Gentleman gains War enormous amounts of souls.
- The Phantom General -- Samael's jailer and the leader of the Phantom Guard.
- The Jailer -- Before becoming a powerful "common" enemy, he is a mini-boss.
- Abyssal Gladiator
- Ash Titan -- Before facing the Stygian, the player has to have a one on one encounter with this gigantic Ashworm.
- The Brood Mother -- Silitha's Guardian.
- The Three Guardians
- Shadow War -- A dark mirror of War himself, immune to all of his sub-weapons and gadgets and capable of any of his sword moves - up to and including Chaos Form.
Weapons and Gear
Darksiders has a variety of different weapons and items to collect while playing, weapons can be equipped with enhancements which improve the weapon in a manner of ways. There are also four Legendary Enhancements that are much more powerful and are said to represent each of the four horsemen.
- Chaoseater - War's signature weapon, an incredibly ancient sword full of powerfully destructive magic.
- Armageddon Blade - A sword of Heaven, meant to be crafted at the End of Days, but used prematurely to break the Seven Seals and trigger the early Apocalypse.
- Scythe (or The Harvester, which will replace the Scythe if the player inputs a GameStop pre-order code.) - A powerful weapon similar to that used by War's brother Death, the Scythe is both slower and weaker than the Chaoseater, but its wide, sweeping arcs make it the perfect weapon for dealing with large groups of enemies.
- Tremor Gauntlet - Even more focused on dealing damage to a single enemy than Chaoseater, the Tremor Gauntlet is also used to solve puzzles, as it can strike the ground with such force as to cause minor earthquakes that shatter crystals.
- Abyssal Chain - Fires a grappling chain that attaches to enemies and other environmental objects. Smaller objects are pulled towards War, while larger objects pull War towards them.
- Crossblade - A finely crafted throwing blade that can attack multiple targets. Returns to War's hand after being thrown. Can be charged up and will spin on one targeted enemy, causing extra damage. Can link between multiple enemies, or multiple environmental objects; e.g. hit fire and then a bomb to set the bomb on fire.
- Earthcaller - A masterfully carved horn whose call awakens ancient gates. In combat this can be used to stun enemies, but it is otherwise entirely useless.
- Mask of Shadows - Allows War to see into the Shadow Realm, revealing things that are hidden from the mortal world such as chests and bridges.
- Mercy - Originally the weapon of the horseman Strife and left to War on earth, it is a rapid-firing hand gun that has unlimited supernatural rounds. Damage can be increased with an item from Vulgrim, the storekeeper.
- Void Walker - Truly an instrument of mythical proportions, the void Walker opens gateways between our realm and beyond. Functions fairly straightforwardly; fire at one interactive site to create a portal, then fire at another to create a second portal with a link between them. This can be charged prior to firing to create an accelerated exit portal (shoots the character out at extra speed).
- Bane - Generates Wrath naturally over time
- Carnage - Boosts chaos gained from the Chaoseater and allows all weapons to generate chaos.
- Hellfire - Boosts weapon damage on strikes and inflict additional fire damage over time
- Bloodthirst - Leeches weapon damage and converts it to health
- Ravager - Drastically increases damage inflicted with enironmental weapons and increases chances to get souls when destroying objects.
- Reaper - Boosts the amount of souls acquired from enemies, if equipped to the Scythe it will reward War with additional souls.
- Combat Lore - Boosts weapon experience gained during combat and increases War's armor level.
- Weapon Master - Boosts the damage inflicted by the weapons attack.
- War's Glory - Drastically increases weapon damage and Chaos gained by all melee weapons (Chaoseater gets an extra boost) while also drastically increasing the amount of weapon experience gained with any weapon. Also increases the duration of Chaos Form.
- Strife's Offering - Boosts weapon damage while also generating more Wrath and Chaos on killing blows. Also drastically increases projectile attack damage and increases War's defense against projectile attacks.
- Fury's Embrace - Wrath is leeched on every weapon strike and Wrath power damage is increased in addition to a boost of Wrath gained on killing blows. Also reveals all world maps and items on the map.
- Death's Blessing - Drastically increases weapon damage while also leeching damage and converting it to health. Greatly increases the amount of souls acquired from objects and creatures with additional soul rewards when assigned to the Scythe/Harvester.
The Abyssal Armor
The Abyssal Armor is a special set of armor whose 10 pieces that comprise it are spread through across 10 different chests throughout the world of Darksiders. This dark grey armor is much more resistant to attacks than War's regular armor and on top of it, it also gives life upon all successful attacks, making the player nearly invincible. However, during cut-scenes War appears wearing his normal outfit, which is somewhat jarring.
War loses his powers at the beginning of the game, but will slowly get them all back. These come in three varieties:
Curiously, neither of the passive abilities were War's originally; both are gifts from the demon Samael to aid War on his quest..
- Chronomancy - allows War to slow down time.
- Shadowflight - allows War to glide for a limited amount of time after performing a double jump.
- Affliction - War summons serpent-like creatures to aid him in combat.
- Blade Geyser - War slams the ground beneath and blades sprout all around him, harming any enemies in range and pushing them back.
- Immolation - this allows for War to set himself on fire, thus causing enemies who come within melee range to catch on fire themselves, causing damage.
- Stoneskin - War's skin becomes... stone; this makes him more resistant to any kind of damage while also improving his dealt damage.
- Chaos Form - striking opponents with the Chaoseater causes the Chaos gauge to fill up and when it is full, War can activate his Chaos Form, which is undoubtedly War's most powerful ability. When under the Chaos Form, War is completely invulnerable and inflicts massage damage to anyone who stands in his way. The Chaos Form is limited to the time Chaos gauge take to deplete itself upon activation. It can be prematurely cancelled, but this will cancel all remaining Chaos; it cannot be saved.
The game is divided in 6 Chapters, plus a Prologue. Each location in every Chapter is introduced to the player by means of an on-screen title.
Here's a list of all Chapters, plus the locations contained in them.
- City Streets
- Seraphim Hotel
- The Crossroads
- The Library
- The Scalding Gallow
- The Choking Grounds
- The Broken Stair
- Drowned Pass
- Anvil's Ford
- The Hollows
- The Road to the Iron Canopy
- Iron Canopy
The original concept for the game came from comic book creator Joe "Joe Mad" Madureira. The game went into development about five years before its release. After founding Vigil Games, the designers were very drawn to the concept of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Although the full development cycle didn't begin until two years later, many ideas and concepts came up during this two-year period.
Most of the gameplay ideas that many consumers and critics said appeared to be taken from other games such as God of War and Zelda were initially designed before the release of said games, according to development director of Vigil Games, David Adams. Adams also stated that they did not have the specific intention to be similar to any other game, nor did they have any particular game that served as a source of inspiration. Instead, Vigil simply wanted to make a darker and more mature action-adventure game.
According to post-release developer interviews, a significant amount of gameplay elements were removed before completion, mostly due to space or time constraints. These included items such as the Venom of Apollyon (described as "like a sticky grenade"), a dungeon based on light and dark themes, and an item that allowed the player to control undead armies. Another idea that was cut was Vigil's initial idea of a four-player co-op game, which they quickly found was "ridiculous."
Due to the cancellation of their own game, THQ contracted Silicon Knights to help Vigil out with asset creation during the development of the game.
- War - Liam O'Brien
- The Watcher - Mark Hamil
- Vulgrim - Phil LaMarr
- Samael - Vernon Wells
- Azrael - Keith Szarabajka
- Abaddon - Troy Baker
- Uriel - Moon Bloodgood
- Tiamat - Lani Minella
- Silitha - Lani Menella
- Straga - Troy Baker
- Ulthane - JB Blanc
- Charred Council - Fred Tatasciore
- Tortured Gates - Troy Baker
A remastered version of the game from Nordic Games for the subsequent console generation arrived at the end of 2016 on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U and PC specifically. Reformed German developer Kaiko handled the porting work, previously doing the same for Legend of Kay Anniversary.
The "Warmastered Edition" features native 1080p resolution, double the texture resolutions, improved and reworked rendering, better shadow rendering quality, post-processing effects, 60fps "in moment to moment gameplay" (PS4, Xbox One, PC, 30fps for WiiU).
The official soundtrack for Darksiders was made available for purchase on March 8, 2010. The music for the game was composed by Cris Velasco, Mike Reagan, and Scott Morton. Velasco and Reagan previously helped compose the music for the first two God of War games. Unusually for a game score, the Darksiders soundtrack features a major spoiler, in the form of calling the final boss fight music "Battle with Abaddon", instead of "Battle with the Destroyer", something that irritated and annoyed most fans.
PC System Requirements
Along with a regular release for the PC, THQ announced a ridiculously-named HellBook Edition containing a few extras.
- Comic Book
- Art Cards
- Official Soundtrack