Developer: Vigil Games
Medium: Wii U Game Disc
I'm going to start off this review in a unique way. Instead of making you read paragraphs of prose and scrolling the page down to see the final grade, I'll make it easy on you: Buy this game. I don't care if you read the rest of the review, just know that it's an epic action/adventure game that mixes Legend of Zelda with God of War and is leagues better than its predecessor, complete with fantastic story telling and challenging puzzles. Just like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess did for the original Wii's launch back in 2006, Darksiders 2 is THE one engrossing, must-have adventure game you simply must have in your collection. Unless, of course, if you already own it on a competing platform.
Darksiders 2 originally launched a few months ago for the PS3, 360, and PC. It was one of the first games shown in development for the Wii U, way back at E3 2011. I had played enough of the first game to be mildly intrigued by its sequel. The original was decent, but the story failed to captivate me and the combat grew tiring rather quickly. It had some good ideas that borrowed a great deal from many other games, and as a result I feel that it never did grown into its own game. Contrast that with Darksiders 2, a game that has a much more cohesive story with a highly entertaining protagonist, fast combat, intriguing locales, and challenging puzzles and you come away with a game that not only is a blast to play, but one that surprised me on so many levels. My first play session is a testament to this. I sat down with the game at 6 PM, and before I knew it it was already past midnight. Six hours vanished like nothing, something that hasn't happened to me in years.
You play as Death, one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse (you played his brother, War, in the first game). Death is on a mission to free his brother from a wrongful imprisonment. The game does an excellent job of teaching the player all of Death's various moves, and the Wii U GamePad feels great, although you can use a Wii U Pro Controller if you so please. A couple of advantages to using the GamePad spring from the secondary screen. Not only can you easily change out equipment with the touchscreen, but you can have it display the map at all times as well. This is particularly helpful in the dungeons as it points out treasure chests and other helpful clues that will lead you in the right direction.
Speaking of equipment, Darksiders 2 has a ton of it. It seems like almost every enemy drops loot of some sort that you can pick up and equip or sell at a shop. The game does a fantastic job of telling you if the new item is better or worse than the one you're currently equipped with, and even lets you immediately equip the new weapon or armor without having to go into any menus at all. Death is highly maneuverable, very agile, and in no time I was locking onto enemies, dodging them left and right, and delivering combos and combos of damage without effort. You will come across a ton of enemies throughout the game, but combat remains fun and fresh, and you're constantly getting experience points that will level up your character and allow you to allocate points to a skill tree to learn new arcane magic powers. Fresh weapon techniques can also be acquired by paying for them with gold.
The Wii U version comes with all of the previously released downloadable content on the game disc. This includes the Deadly Despair Pack (Death's horse has a speed boost), Death Rides Pack (3 new side-quests), Angel of Death Shadow of Death (New armor and weapon choices early in the game), and Argul's Tomb (An extra area in the game containing 3 new dungeons and new weapons and armor to collect). Graphically the game appears on par with the 360/PS3 versions. I never encountered any major slowdown or other issues, except for the occasional screen tearing (not a big deal) and some frequent loading, which was a little bothersome especially in the overworld. You have the option to play on the TV or you can move the action fully to the GamePad and play on the controller.
Darksiders 2 really surprised me. I didn't expect to enjoy the game as much as I did. The presentation is top-notch, the locations all look great, and I must point out the audio is superb. The soundtrack is truly great and there are some pieces that will stay with you even after you turn off the game. The voice acting is all wonderfully done, especially Death. He's such a great character and is very funny throughout the game, especially in the way he deals with some of the side-quests that characters give him. If you already own the game, there's very little incentive to picking up the Wii U version, but if you've held off or never had the means to buy it until now, I highly recommend the purchase. The game will deliver hours upon hours of entertainment, and if you're looking for a game to scratch that Zelda itch, there's none better than Darksiders 2. For more details on Darksiders 2 and another perspective, be sure to check out Dustin's original review of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.