Darksiders Warmastered Edition – Review

2016 may go down in history as the year of the gaming remaster.

We’ve seen a wealth of classics make big comebacks, some expected, some a little more surprising. Darksiders Warmastered Edition probably falls somewhere inbetween.

 

It’s no secret that since acquiring the license, Nordic Games have expressed interest in finishing the Darksiders series. And with Darksiders 2 Deathinitive Edition hitting around this time last year, people are now perfectly prepared for this franchise to have a future again.

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As War, players emerge in the present day to see that Earth is preparing for the ‘Endwar’. Chaos is starting to ensue as angels and demons are battling on the city streets with humanity caught in the crossfire.

War and the Four Horsemen formed a treaty eons ago which saw them serve as a counterbalance between the war of Heaven and Hell, crafting Seven Seals to ensure the protection of Earth. However, War’s arrival has raised questions and led forces to question whether he has prematurely brought about the end of the world to suit his own needs. This leads to him being stripped of his powers and forced to face his own demise.

But after pleading his case, War is given one last opportunity for redemption and so returns to a ravaged, war-torn Earth years later to uncover the truth, fighting the angels and demons that still reside there.

For those who didn’t play it the first time around, Darksiders feels like the R-Rated Legend of  Zelda game you always wanted. War gets to wield a variety of weapons –  from scythes to swords – while exploring a series of dungeons, evolving attributes, and killing lots of wild and wacky folk with slick combinations.

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War will need to solve a variety of puzzles in order to progress through the story, whether it’s fulfilling set challenges or locating specific weapons and abilities to unlock the next area, all while mashing buttons and ducking and weaving between burnt out cars and over fractured roads.

Darksiders is proof that Nintendo aren’t the only ones who can lock down an inspired dungeon crawler. This isn’t just about being able to mimic a familiar template with some new textures, Nordic have created a compelling lead, produced some excellent level design for him to venture through, and given a good sense of progression with the weapons and abilities available to you. That said, some of the progress is uneven to begin with and the AI does make some questionable pathing decisions and combat choices.

There’s a finnesse to the design of this game, though, and that’s emphasised by the division of its locations and freedom of movement. Players won’t just run around smashing things, there are vines to climb, and pools to swim in. You’ll even be able to summon Ruin to gallop your way around the apocalyptic wasteland, and fly around in Panzer Dragoon inspired mini-games.

As such, Darksiders also manages to make itself feel fresh and relevant within this genre, doing things differently to comparable titles. For instance, War has a Chaos form which is achieved once he’s vanquished a certain amount of foes. He grows in size and stature, making him more resistant to heavy damage while dealing bigger strikes. This is extremely effective for boss battles, but also when you’re getting surrounded by small armies.

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Darksiders isn’t just Zelda’s bloodier cousin, it’s so much more than that. In fact, the combat is so much more substantial and versatile, and could even be likened to a Devil May Cry or God Of War. Combining the root of these three games together seriously makes for a compelling concoction.

And honestly, apart from Nintendo, nobody has really done this type of game much better, impressive for a title that’s nearly 7 years old. Darksiders Warmastered is still a very believeable, enriching, focused world, that – despite some AI roughness and mechanical jankiness – is as enjoyable now as it was back then. Maybe even more so.

Plus Warmastered does what all good remasters should do, enhance the experience while making the game look better than ever. So good, in fact, you’ll actually forget this was a last-gen release as it glows, gleams, and glistens as brightly as any other game it shares a shelf with. Although it does occassionally suffer with a slight dip in audio quality and cutscene glitching.

That’s easily forgiven though, as Darksiders is outputting full native 1080p rendering, with doubled texture resolutions, rendering improvements and shadow quality, as well as superior post processing effects. That all really shows in this package, in ways I wouldn’t have believed possible from an older game.

DarksidersWarmastered Edition genuinely looks great, and considering how bleak and dreary the original game looked at times, THQ Nordic have done an outstanding job touching this up in an authentic, but even more vibrant way.

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Even on PS4 Pro, the game runs smoothly and succinctly at native 4K, and a stable 60FPS. That’s better than some recent releases.

Oh, and to cap it all off it’ll cost you £14.99. That’s practically daylight robbery for the quality and content you’re getting here.

So, please, do not let this one go quietly into the night for a second time. Darksiders was easily one of last-gens’ most unappreciated and forgotten about IPs, but at this price, looking this good, still feeling so fresh and relevant, that cannot be allowed to happen again. Plus, we need Part 3 to find out what happens next!

In this year of the remaster, where we’ve seen as many questionable updates and rushed ports as we have good ones, Darksiders Warmastered Edition is a masterclass on how to reinvigorate and rejuvinate a brand in the most remarkable way.

Pros
+ Stylish and slick, Darksiders looks better than ever
+ Gameplay still incredibly fresh and compelling 7 years on. Perhaps even more so.
+ Bargain price for a brilliant game

Cons
– Some of the AI can be ropey and mechanics a little janky
– Pacing can be uneven a little early on
– Slight audio and cutscene glitches

 


Darksiders Warmastered Edition

9 out of 10

Platform review on :- Xbox One

 

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also the Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the last six years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,

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