Quick Take: Darksiders: Warmastered takes a 6-year-old game and polishes it for current-gen systems. The end result is a brutal and beautiful masterpiece of a game.
The Darksiders series — well, at least the first half of the proposed four games — has developed a rabid fanbase in the almost seven years since it first hit the PS3 and Xbox 360. The story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, thrust into the Endwar between heaven and hell, has resonated with many gamers, and now developer Vigil Games and the newly branded THQ Nordic have released a remastered version of the first game, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One (and Wii U), and there is no better time to try out this amazing series and see for yourself why these first two games are so beloved.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is a single player action button masher that plays like an unholy marriage of Sony’s God of War and Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda games. Taking control of the horseman War, the player is tasked with restoring balance in eternal battle between angels and demons, but a new wrinkle has entered the conflict, and the horsemen are now seen as enemies, so War must do whatever it takes to restore the balance, even as world is way past the tipping point.
War is outfitted with a huge soul sword, called ChaosEater, that does amazing damage, but later on can discover some amazing other weapons and powers. Collecting souls from fallen enemies and dealing with the twisted sales-demon Vulgrim helps War to grow stronger in his fight. He must seek out allies in the forms of some of Hell’s most powerful demons, and Heaven’s strongest Angels, who send War on tasks meant to serve each side in the conflict. These usually involve exploring puzzle-filled locales — much like a Zelda game — full of cool looking enemies and stupid-hard bosses.
The play control is deceptively deep, as War has a few tricks up his gauntlets. He can switch primary weapons on the fly; the scythe, which can be purchased from Vulgrim is a sweeping alternative to the sword, ChaosEater, that War usually uses, and there’s a ranged weapon with the Crossblade. War also has wrath-based magic powers that can do massive damage as they are upgraded throughout the 20-25 hour adventure. When things get really bad, War can activate a new Chaos form that makes him even more bad ass. But with all the gifts given to him (or purchased), ChaosEater is the primary weapon, and players spam the attack buttons to unleash devastating combos. And even after 20 or so hours, it never gets old. Newer, bigger enemies roll out at a decent clip, forcing the player to remember what patterns and weaknesses are needed based on the enemies on the field of battle.
The art direction and level designs are some of the best of the last generation, and Darksiders: Warmastered Edition serves as a reminder of that time, while updating the graphics to 1080p at 60 fps. The PS4 Pro even presents the game in upscaled 4K, with HDR support, and it is gorgeous. Vigil Games nailed the aesthetic here, and created a twisted, war-torn world that lives and breathes, even as it bleeds and dies. I’ve found myself marveling at the level designs, and the smart puzzles in temples, cathedrals, and other explorable locales in the world of Darksiders.
And as good as the level designs are, the character designs are better. Comic legend Joe Madureira (X-Men, Battle Chasers) served as the creative director, and his fingerprints are all over this game. War just bleeds coolness, with his glowing eyes, smug, serious face and ominous hood, and his adversaries are varied, twisted nightmare-inspired monstrosities that come to life on-screen. And each new area opens up more and more horrific goodness in enemies and bosses and even allies, temporary or otherwise. I cannot stress enough how amazing the character design is here in Darksiders: Warmastered Edition.
The music and voice acting reach new heights, as veterans Troy Baker and Mark Hamill lead an amazing cast that brings the story of Darksiders: Warmastered Edition to life. The score is sweeping and epic, and sets the mood for the absolute carnage happening on screen. And with the amount of exploration and back tracking, a solid soundtrack is a must, and this game delivers.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is epitome of why developers remaster games for current gen systems. This game was an absolute gem in 2010, and still hold up now six years later. The tight action and play control, and a wonderfully realized game world and mythology makes for an epic, brutal, and most importantly fun game to revisit if you are a long-time fan, or one to play and enjoy for the first time if you are new to the series. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is economically priced, and it’s a steal for a game this good. Long time fans hope that this re-release, as well as the recent remaster of Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (featuring the rider Death as the main protagonist) will lead to the final two games in the series being developed and released, so we can all see how the story of the End War finally ends.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is available now for the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and soon for the Wii U. The game is value-priced in the Playstation Store and Xbox Marketplace, and worth every penny. This review is based off the PS4 version of the game, provided by THQ Nordic for review purposes.