SAN DIEGO — War has it tough. He shows up to the apocalypse like he’s supposed to–he is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse after all, the event is in his title–but it turns out he’s the lone horseman to make it to the shindig because the battle has begun prematurely. Things don’t go quite like they are supposed to because of it, and Hell defeats Heaven. Now, the forces of Heaven are angry at War, because he basically got stuck with the check by showing up when no one else did. Hell hates him because he’s not on their side, and earth probably would hate him if there was anyone left alive there. Now, 100 years after the botched apocalypse, War must return to the remnants of earth to clear his name, free trapped souls, and kick some ass.
That’s the basic setup for this game, and as cool as the concept is, the gameplay itself does well for itself too. War is stylized in a way that makes him look straight out of a comic book, which is a great contrast to the realistic looking (though stylized) real-world earth. You have war fighting these awesome looking creatures that look ripped straight from the pages of fantasy, but all on the stage of post-apocalyptic earth. While you may think from sneaking a peek at the title that it resembles God of War or the upcoming Dante’s Inferno due to its use of combos and large-scale battles against various enemies, that’s not the feeling I got from playing. This feels like a take on the Legend of Zelda formula, and if you speak to anyone working with the game, they will tell you the same thing.
Zelda was a major influence for this title, as you have a main world that you traverse and dungeons that you must enter. More of the main world opens up as you clear dungeons, complete tasks and acquire new items, and when in each dungeon you will learn new abilities or gain new items, then use that new found knowledge or power to defeat the boss protecting it. You even have a Navi type figure, although he’s much angrier and violent than that fairy ever was, and is voiced by Mark Hamill. Battles are a bit more important here than they are in Zelda, and more difficult too from the look of things, so calling it a combination of a Zelda-type game and an action-based brawler would be an accurate description.
You will get to wield giant swords and shoot guns in the game, and ride a horse called Ruin. You will unlock powers that you have lost until you become the true representation of the Horseman, War. While the build I played did not show off his true potential, I did get a chance to see how well combat worked, and what kind of enemies you would be fighting. There are basic grunt enemies, which were likened to, “The grass in Zelda” but as a source of souls rather than rupees, as souls are the game’s currency for buying new upgrades and items. You don’t want to be surrounded by too many of these guys, despite the ease with which they are defeated, because much fouler creatures are around to do serious damage to you. You can take these out either with some magic, low and high powered attacks mixed together in combos, or by picking up objects in the environment and using them to your advantage. I was running around a post-apocalyptic city with cars strewn about, so I picked them up and swung them at enemies, or threw them from a distance with the ease of tossing a football around. This makes for some varied battles, and gives you a bit of freedom as far as taking out your enemies.
The first boss fight encountered in the demo was pretty tough considering how early it was in the game, but when I found out that this “boss” was actually just a standard enemy you will encounter many times throughout the game, I got a bit excited. That might mean good things as for the difficulty and scale of battles you will be involved in while you play Darksiders.
While the game is still a ways away, the demo from Comic-Con put this game on my radar. A mature take on the Legend of Zelda formula using one of the Four Horsemen of legend is a wonderful idea, and with what I have experienced, could turn out to be a neat homage to the gameplay style while also retaining plenty of its own fun and character. We’ll have more info for you on this title as it nears release, but for now, enjoy the trailer and the screens we have for you.
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