STAFF REVIEW of Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Xbox One)

Monday, November 28, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition Box art Since the birth of man there have been tales of Heaven and Hell and the battle that is supposedly waiting to commence. The now defunct publisher THQ originally started their tale of this conflict with the game series Darksiders. Released almost seven years ago, Darksiders was a game that took people by surprise and it became a sleeper hit that rapidly developed a large cult following. Even though it wasn't marketed with the same steamrolling style as Battlefield, Call of Duty, Mass Effect, Halo, or any other triple A games, an overwhelming majority of those who played it will say they absolutely loved it given it's original story and main protagonist. Former publisher THQ had a hit on their hands.

Now, after a tumultuous past few years, with the closing of THQ and the formation of THQ Nordic, we have seen the reintroduction of the Darksiders series on the Xbox One. Oddly enough the sequel, Darksiders II, was released before the original, but hopefully the added capital gained during this time will mean more amazing things for the future of this I.P. Being that I didn't do the original review I must confess that this will be my viewpoint in this writing. Clocking in at $19.99 THQ Nordic has already hit a massive goal and I'll get to that in a minute, but for now, on to the review.

For those who have never played Darksiders before it tells the tale of the fragile truce between Heaven and Hell and the Charred Council who preserve the balance and peace between realms. During this time a 3rd kingdom emerged, which was the kingdom of man. Eager to gain an advantage in the celestial struggle, both sides fight with humanity stuck in the middle to suffer. This is when the Charred Council stepped in and sealed a truce between the realms and solidified it with 7 seals, and if these seals were eventually broken they would summon forth the call of the riders of the apocalypse who would descend upon the Kingdom of Man and judge both Heaven and Hell accordingly.

That is the premise to Darksiders, and in this original installment you get to play as War. He is one of the four summoned riders of the apocalypse, but there is a problem. According to the Charred Council the seventh seal hasn't been broken and War has apparently acted on his own as he was sent to the Kingdom of Man. To atone for his sin War must lay siege to the 'Destroyer' who has already started attacking humanity. How could a rider be summoned if the seals weren’t broken? Why would a call come forth if the balance was still kept? Who would try to manipulate the riders of the apocalypse and for what reason? These are but some of the questions that will be answered in the story, which is why it should never be spoiled for fresh eyes. Trust me, you'll thank me later.

One of the reasons that Darksiders became such a hit is the gameplay mechanics. Using a straightforward but simplistic layout, Darksiders manages to bring a solid feel to the game experience. Sure, you have your basic hack and slash attacks, but the ability to switch from auto-locking onto an enemy to independently targeting the field in front of you, allowing you to freestyle hack at anything that moves near you, can all be done seamlessly with very little jarring between transitions, making abilities easy to use through your sub-menus. These powers not only require something called wrath to utilize, but look absolutely devastating, but I'll touch on that in a moment. The gameplay is enhanced by some light RPG elements where you can upgrade your move set, weapon damage, health, wrath, etc. Despite having to get used to the camera all over again, these elements combine to make Darksiders an enjoyable experience from beginning to end.

Now, Darksiders plays well, but one aspect that will stand out simply because of its quality is the voice acting. War comes off as a stoic judge of righteousness who will always get to the point in a conversation. However, throughout the game you will encounter demons and angels that help bring this whole story to life in a way that was absolutely incredible given the game is almost seven years old. Speaking of the audio, War's demon companion is voiced by the legend Mark Hamill who does his iconic Joker voice and it fits the demon, and his mannerisms, brilliantly. Now, this game wears the title Darksiders Warmastered Edition and that is because THQ Nordic has released Darksiders with one massive overhaul, which is in the graphics.

Running now at 1080p 60fps this classic adventure masterpiece simply looks stunning. While the original was wonderful, this is a remaster that can be seen as setting the standard for how upgrading graphics should be done. New textures seem to blanket this game and the character modeling artwork really shines through in the higher resolution. One thing that did sort of strike me as odd though is that while the characters and overall graphics got a major steroid injection, the buildings found throughout the game seem unchanged, and it is almost like they don't fit or belong in this 'remastered' Darksiders world. While this minor detail is a setback, the new special effects found in using War's powers more than compensates for it.

Earlier on I said that THQ Nordic already hit a massive goal. Releasing a game that is almost seven years old, with the only major work being a graphic overhaul, the price had better properly reflect this fact, and for the Darksiders: Warmastered Edition it does. Worried that some other companies have released less and charged more, THQ Nordic have priced this gem at a sweet spot to solidify it as a must have. Yes, I know there is absolutely no extra content of any kind, and that only the visuals have received a facelift while the audio and gameplay feel untouched. The thing is though, THQ Nordic probably stared at the original game and thought if it works so well why should we mess with it? Undoubtedly, this Darksiders remastered game is most likely the best $19.99 you can spend on the Xbox One at this moment as you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of a game that is solid all around.

A complete overhaul of all audio elements would be nice, but it is not particularly necessary.

Overall: 8.7 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.7 / 10


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