The First Hour Of… Darksiders (Part 1)

darksiders pic 1I’ve previously described Darksiders as resembling the Legacy of Kain series. While I still vouch for that comparison, having spent some more time with Vigil’s action/adventure, it’s probably closer to a Legend of Zelda starring Kratos. You want a “mature” Zelda? This could be it.

Here’s how a First Hour Of… post works. I play an unreleased game for one hour exactly, from the very beginning. I take notes as I go. Then I write up exactly what happened, along with any impressions along the way, and finally decide whether I want to keep playing into that second hour.

I played the first hour of Darksiders yesterday. It was the latest preview build, so it’s very close to the final game, which releases on January 7. I played the Xbox 360 version, but as far as I’ve seen the PS3 version is basically identical. Here’s what happened:

00:00 – It begins with a cinematic explaining how the Charred Council upholds a truce between Heaven and Hell and the third kingdom of Man. When Man is ready, the legend goes, the end war will begin to determine the ultimate fate of the world. The cut-scene concludes with the armies of Heaven and Hell arriving on earth to battle it out.

00:03 – You play as War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War finds himself called to earth as the battle breaks out in a generic American city. First task? Discovering that X is for attack as I slice up a handful of lizard-like demons. Hitting them three times prompts me to hit the B button for a bloody finishing move: slicing the demon’s head off, for example.

darksiders pic 200:06 – A massive demon, who looks like a gorilla made of molten lava, crushes a bus ahead of me. He towers above me, four times my height. It doesn’t seem like a fair fight. Fortuitously another prompt appears, this time instructing me to hold LB and press RT. I transform into a flaming beast who’s now a match for the lava gorilla. A slay him with my giant fire sword.

00:10 – Still in beast form, I stomp down the street flanked by skyscrapers. Meteors carrying reinforcements for both sides of the end war crash into the road and buildings all around, tearing up the concrete and sending cars flying through the air. People run screaming with understandable terror as they’re fed upon by the lizard demons. I slice up a few more with a couple of quick slashes, no longer requiring the finishing moves of my weaker form.

00:14 – Turning into the main street, I see a stone golem as tall as the nearest building being held in chains by a squadron of angels. They drag him to the ground before swooping upon me. Again, I fend them off with a few swift strikes, then watch the golem rise to its feet and lope off down the boulevard. I follow, admiring the tombstones decorating its shoulder blades, but not before I’m involuntarily transformed back into War’s regular form.

darksiders pic 300:17 – A meteor crashes into a building, toppling it across the street, blocking my way ahead but allowing me to explore inside. I battle my way to the roof, learning that I can hold X to perform a spinning attack where I’ll hover momentarily in the air. It’s good for taking down those angels. Outside I catch glimpses of the ongoing battle: one winged demon wrestles with a helicopter, another snatches an angel in its claws and rips it in half.

00:21 – I tumble out of the building and back onto the street and find myself pitched against a half-dozen angels. I’m told that pressing B next to an object lets me pick it up, so I hurl several nearby cars at the heavenly hosts. Soon a large meteor smashes into the street and a cut-scene kicks in.

00:24 – I’m introduced to Abaddon, the angel of death, who expresses surprise at War’s presence on earth. The seven seals forged by the Charred Council to preserve the balance had not all been broken. The horsemen shouldn’t be here yet. War himself is just as confused at the situation – surely he was only there because he was called? Such questions are cut short as a mighty demon, at least ten times the size of those I’d fought previously, emerges from a pit of lava and attacks.

darksiders pic 400:26 – Boss fight! I find myself on a short section of road, collapsed building behind me, boss demon standing waist deep in a fiery pool. Like a typical boss, the encounter is based around the number three. He has three attacks: first, he slams down each fist in turn, creating a flaming fissure I have to dodge; second he reaches into the lava and hurls a handful of cars at me; third, he grabs the very road itself and tries to rip it out from under me. When he throws the cars, one lands near so I pick it up and launch it at the demon’s head. One car stuns him momentarily, a second causes him to slump forward, close enough that I can do my spinning airborne attack all over his face. Do that three times and the B button prompt pops up for me to execute my finishing move.

00:29 – Except the cinematic shows me getting swatted away like a fly. The demon picks me up and crushes me in his boulder-sized fist. Oh dear… what will happen next?

You can now read the second half hour over here.


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