Tuesday, April 2

Review: Darksiders - Warmastered Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Remasters are a tricky business for both publishers and consumers, though they’ve obviously been showing up with some regularity of late. Even if you give a classic the HD treatment and throw in some refinements there’s no guarantee of success. Whether the issue is that the core gameplay hasn’t aged well, that tonally the game’s story or themes are more painful by modern standards, or even that just enough was changed through the process that people feel the soul of the original was lost it can be a bit of a tightrope. When it comes to Darksiders, a game that could be cynically viewed as a bit of a roided-up 3D Zelda adventure, the years have been surprisingly kind. Though it still has some rough edges the experience stands up, looking and playing great, and yet is still very viable for portable play on the Switch.


You’ll once again take up control of the Horseman War, drawn through mysterious circumstances too late into the war between the light and the dark. Returning to Earth weakened but determined to set things right and clear your name you’ve got your work cut out for you. Thankfully, the game makes that road a bloody and often exciting one, featuring loads of slashing combat, wild weaponry, and various skills the help you prove your worth in the form of glorious violence. In particular the boss battles continue to stand out with their epic camerawork, dramatic angles, and tough degree of challenge that will force you to work for your wins and that glorious bonus health.


Outside of the combat the game features plenty of environmental puzzles to solve, and though perhaps the design of these may not quite scratch the level of quality you’d see in the Zelda series they’re typically only a step or two behind. Throughout the game you’ll also get the opportunity to upgrade your techniques by either taking on new skills in your repertoire or giving your existing ones a more lethal edge. This tuning has many similarities to the likes of Bayonetta and others, and provides you not only with a way to choose what style of attacks and combos suit you best but also some potential to enjoy repeat runthroughs by focusing your skills on different weapons and techniques.


Given the quality of the remaster’s graphics a smart move on the part of the developers was to include a toggle for moving between a focus on the graphics or on performance. In docked mode I didn’t find there to be an enormous difference in performance in terms of perceived fluidity (I’m sure frame rate nuts are getting a nervous twitch with that statement) so I stuck almost exclusively with keeping things pretty. However, though I still found the setting for better graphics to be pretty good in handheld mode I tended to favor performance when on the go, if nothing else other than as simple insurance the system would be able to keep up with the often-intense action.


While many titles that worked well a decade ago don’t tend to hold up well to modern scrutiny Darksiders continues to be pretty impressive. Granted, the fact that it isn’t quite up to the level of quality of something like Zelda, and that some issues with backtracking and some dead time as you move around, remain. However, aside from those standing complaints, I had a really great time revisiting War’s struggle and the glorious violent combat remains very satisfying and as visceral as ever. Whether you were a fan of it from back in the day, or are just looking for a title with some strong production quality and bloody combat Darksiders Warmastered Edition is well worth your time on Switch.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • The combat remains the game’s greatest strength, providing you with plenty of ways to draw blood to suit your personal style
  • Environmental puzzles aren’t all winners but more often than not look great and offer up a reasonable challenge
  • Overall, the production qualities show some signs of their age at times but the game looks great and generally performs very well on Switch, even in handheld mode

Cons:
  • There are times when the environments feel a bit too big and empty as you try to run around, some added or better positioned waypoints would have helped
  • If you remove the over-the-top elements and focus just on the core combat mechanically it can be pretty repetitive, and there are stretches where the balance of exploration and combat skews which demonstrates this further