The Wii was either “innovative” or “gimmicky,” depending on your perspective, an evergreen topic that still springs up now and again. There is a similar cleave between things that are Homage and things that are Derivative, though this one can get complicated quick. In such scenarios, it’s nice to have a quick rule of thumb to sunder any lingering ambiguities.
We brought Darksiders back to the office with Bayonetta at lunch, on the assumption that Bayonetta would occupy the afternoon, and Darksiders has instead demanded every spare moment we’ve had for the last several days. As Vigil’s first game, it’s not that expectations were low - it’s that there were no expectations. This makes it difficult to place in a functional hierarchy that determines purchase or play priority. I’m not entirely sure why we bought it. Was it the hologram on the cover? As children of the eighties, holograms act on some primal layer of the consciousness.
It really does have it all, and by all, I mean it’s got a flavor from every game you’ve liked recently. Prince of Persia. God of War. Certainly, some Zelda. But they’re stewed in such an ornate cauldron, and then presented with such verve that we’re begging to know what’s next. The visuals are more than capable from a technology perspective, the occasional huge fight constipates performance, but it’s nothing to inspire a rage induced trade-in or kill you when you wouldn’t otherwise have died. What becomes clear rather quickly is that the game has a voice, a clear one, which is most perfectly expressed in its visual language. It creates a context of such amplified scale and gravity that they can get away with the most insane bullshit and it’s okay. Your sword is called Chaoseater, for God’s sake. Ordinarily that would drive me fucking nuts. Here, it’s like, what else would you call it? It eats fucking chaos! Give me the controller.
There is considerable repetition for enemy dialogue - they feel compelled to speak, but they can’t think of anything new to say, so you hear a lot of the same dark oaths and “quarterly review”-style performance assessments. Even those lines, though, are delivered with a confidence and texture that most games can’t be bothered to deliver. They contribute to the overall “sheen” of the game, a freewheeling cosmic gothic epic. It is quite consciously a smorgasbord, and makes no apologies for it.