Final Acts

I just finished Darksiders 2 and while the game as a whole left a lot of positive, I can’t help but notice a growing trend of games that just call it in for the final act.

Act1 I cleaned out an entire land with 4 dungeons, Act 2 was even bigger so that the combined play time was well over 20 hours without any effort to “complete” areas or anything other than the main quest.  Act 3 was compete in under 2 hours, with only a single dungeon.

There are quite a few games that seem to just give up at the end and rather than increase the challenge, they increase the difficulty by just plunging massive enemies in your way rather than continue the run through the game.  Diablo3 is a perfect example where rather than provide new zones and challenges, they fill the screen with dozens of enemies and bosses.  COD/MOH are pretty similar too.  Maybe this is supposed to make me feel more powerful?  Like I’m some sort of deity that can take on any challenge?

It’s interesting that RPGs typically take the complete opposite path, where the entire game opens up at the end.  Like all of a sudden you’re finally strong enough to take on hundreds of challenges rather than a single gauntlet.

Small rant aside, I have to say that Darksiders2 was a great game.  For the price I paid (~15$), I got nearly 25 hours out of it, clearly putting it into my value bucket (of which 1$ per hour is my lower limit).  I think I would have been happy with just 10 hours too, so I got some extra goodness from the game.  Refreshing.

Darksiders 2

Darksiders 2

Over the holidays I picked up Darksiders 2 and I’ve put a few hours into it with some pleasant surprises. While the setting is simple enough (4 horseman, angels & demons) it has the comic book feel that Joe wanted. There’s a “big-ness” to everything which just feels right. There’s a good spread of bosses and they all seem to get bigger and badder as you go along. The story takes a couple odd turns but nothing too out of the blue.

From a gameplay perspective, it’s more akin to Zelda than I would have thought. There’s an overworld with travel on a horse. The majority of dungeons are about puzzle solving rather than continuous combat. There are 4 general skills that affect puzzles with the traditional grapple hook and teleportation. There’s a cool character split mechanic, allowing you to work in tandem with yourself. Combat is like most action games, weak attacks, strong attacks, combos, special attacks. Your weapons actually make a difference though, as all gear has stats and some weapons attack at different rates (maces vs gauntlets). Plus the weapons can be upgraded, adding a nice little RPG mechanic.

It’s hard to pick a weakness other than the typical “Zelda” weakness of not wanting to complete anything past the final boss. There are plenty of side objectives but in terms of relative power/effort, they rarely seem worth the time. Mind you, one particular side quest was well above my character level and I died multiple times, which was fun in itself.

I’ve completed 2 of the 3 acts and I’m still entertained. Each zone is designed into chunks, so you can drop in, play for a bit and feel like you’ve completed something rather than the extra long chains of other games. While I like God of War’s combat, no one can say that Kratos is relatable, the story is anything near quality and that the dungeons don’t bleed into each other. Darksiders is a nice break from that tradition and I’m hoping someone buys the IP from THQ and continues the quest.