Just like the original, Darksiders II offers a heavy does of puzzle-filled dungeons, platforming, and button-mashing combat. It's a well deserved sequel, but does it beat the original?
A sequel to Darksiders was bound to happen. It was one of the best games from 2009, and it surprised me how good it was. Darksiders II has a lot in comparison with the original. It holds all the elements that made the first great. From it's God of War-like combat, it's Prince of Persia style platforming, and it's semi-open world structure. It's all back, but everything is much bigger and better this time around. The combat is more fluid, the world is more expansive, and there's an new RPG element. It's a well deserved sequel, but it has a few niggles along the way.
Darksiders II takes place shortly after the first game. With the first game focusing on War, this time you step into the boots of his brother, Death. He is the last of the four horsemen. His main quest is all about revenge. He is searching for his brother, and to find out what really happened. The revenge plot might not be as compelling as War's, but Death is a far more interesting protagonist to play. Not only does he look cooler, but his attitude is more bad-ass. Also, his voice acting, voiced by Michael Wincott is at top notch.
Death also feel more agile than War. His movement around the environment, along with his combat skills are extremely responsive. Death's primary weapon are dual-scythes. They are quick and very deadly. Death can also carry a secondary weapon, which is less responsive, but still packs a punch. These can range from hammers, to axes and more. Stringing together combos with both, your primary and second weapon, can produce some serious blows to your enemies. Death can perform numerous combo moves, and also learn more from a trainer for a set price. Performing these button-mashing combos feels great' but it can sometimes make things too easy. Enemies hardly every get a chance to fight back, and they don't take much beating.
Like it's predecessor, Darksiders II still contains a semi-open world. The Zelda-like structure offers plenty of doors to unlock, hidden maps, and paths to take. There's a lot to explore, but it's much larger than before. At times, it seems to large. Most of the areas feel a bit too spacious, and it seems a bit of wasted space. It can also make travelling a bit of a chore. You can fast travel to certain areas, and also summon your horse, but most of the time will require on foot. That's not to say exploring isn't fun. There's tons of chests to find, and the new looting system is what makes exploration enjoyable. Looting here is done a bit like Borderlands. Random weapons, gear, and other items can be found throughout the game. You can find them in chests, from completing quests, and from defeating foes. It makes exploring that extra bit rewarding, as well as letting players modify Death to their own play style.
Vigil Games have also added an RPG element, allowing players to level up Death on the fly. As you complete story quests, side quests, and defeat enemies, you will increase an XP bar. Doing so will earn you a skill point, which can be spent on new abilities and upgrades from a skill tree. This is nothing new to the role playing genre, but it's a great addition that adds tons of replayability. Unlike the first game, Darksiders II has a New Game+ feature, making reason for a second, and possibly third playthrough.
It wouldn't be a Darksiders game without puzzles, so there's plenty to solve in each dungeon. Most of them entail rolling a large ball onto a mechanism, or pulling a leaver. Most of them require little to none thinking at all, and they feel very familiar. Some of Deaths gadgets are thrown into the mix, changing the way you solve a puzzle, but they still feel repetitive. Thankfully, each dungeon ends with a Boss Battle. Each of them are unique, with most requiring a different strategic approach. I found most of them thoroughly enjoyable, and it breaks up the puzzles nicely.