Review – Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch)

The Darksiders series has always been fascinating to me, with its own unique take on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Darksiders II is without a doubt my favourite of the bunch. With THQ successfully porting the original Darksiders and Red Faction Guerrilla to the Switch, does Death’s journey make the same successful transition?

Running parallel to War’s imprisonment and Fury’s task to hunt the seven deadly sins, you play as a brother of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death. Sure that his brother isn’t guilty of kickstarting the apocalypse, Death sets out on a journey to prove his innocence by undoing the damage done to mankind and reversing all of the chaos around him. On his journey he will traverse different realms, face new threats and deal with his part in the destruction of the Nephilim.

Vulgrim

The sleazy demon merchant returns.

Storytelling has never been the prime focus in any Darksiders game, and for the most part, Death’s journey is pretty straightforward. but it can be engaging at times. Death is by far my favourite of the three Horsemen we’ve had a proper journey with so far, thanks to his motivations and his overall badass attitude. The lore of Darksiders has always been fascinating, and I’ve enjoyed delving back into it with this Switch port.

Darksiders II‘s gameplay is split into three major components; combat, puzzle solving and traversal. As you explore the game’s vast overworlds you will be travelling with Death’s trusty horse, Despair. On your way to your main objective, you might come across some tougher enemies or optional dungeons to dive into. The main issue is that the game’s 25+ hour campaign overstays its welcome due to an overuse of fetch quests and busy work that just feel pointless. 

Puzzles aren’t overly complicated. Don’t really expect much from them other than being a nice little distraction from the chaotic combat every now and then. They usually consist on you opening gates with the use of pressure plates and energy balls, something never too difficult, but a few of them do lack proper direction with unclear visual hints. Platforming is also decent enough, as paths are clearly laid out for you. It also helps that the controls are responsive enough.

Combat is fast-paced and a lot of fun. You can dodge around enemy attacks and deal combos with Death’s signature scythe, assigned to the Y button, while a secondary weapon of choice is assigned to the X button. Secondary weapons consist of blades, hammers, gauntlets and more, resulting in various gameplay possibilities.  Death will also gain access to a pistol that can be used both for combat scenarios and puzzle-solving situations. Boss fights are a strong point, especially when smaller puzzle mechanics get blended in with the fights themselves.

Darksiders 2-1

Switch’s dynamic resolution can kick in hard.

Darksiders II also features some RPG mechanics, with items dropped by killed enemies and opened chests directly affecting your current stats. New weapons make the bulk of the loot mechanics as you’ll constantly scavenge for weapons with better stats. In a nice touch, the armour that you pick generally looks interesting and makes nice visual changes to Death. Besides this, we also have a pretty standard skill tree and levelling system.

Playing this game on the Switch has been an interesting experience, to say the least. On the handheld side, it’s not the most comfortable game to play with due the joycons’ overall design. Keeping hold of the lock-on whilst trying to use Deaths special abilities proved to be a bit awkward and there is no way to simply toggle it. I’d recommend playing this with a Pro controller, if available. During the game’s first section, I was pleasantly surprised by the somewhat solide framerate, but the more that I played, the worse it got. What disappointed me the most is that there is no option to prioritise framerate over resolution, like the option featured in the Switch version of Darksiders Warmastered Edition. It is a perfectly playable port, don’t get me wrong, but could have been much better in this aspect. 

Back in the day, Darksiders II wasn’t the best looking game in the martket. Even though the art style was pretty good, the game’s graphics per se weren’t exactly impressive. The Deathinitive Edition brought in some improvements to the game’s lighting effects and some reworked textures, and the Switch retains a lot of these changes. However, the game uses a dynamic resolution and the effects can be ugly, often dropping below the target 720p in larger areas.

Darksiders 2-2

Just walk through dammit!

Even though the visuals don’t exactly hold up, the sound design is as excellent as ever. Jesper Kyd’s soundtrack is still epic, lending nicely to what is happening on screen at any moment. Most of the voice actors deliver great performances, with special mention to Death’s voice actor, Michael Wincott.

As expected, Deathinitive Edition is the complete package. The lengthy campaign has a decent amount of sidequests and dungeons to explore whilst the DLCs expand the world of Darksiders even more. This version also includes the Crucible DLC, a wave-based arena mode with increasingly more challenging enemies. Replay value is also solid, with higher difficulties that really live up to the challenge.

Darksiders II, my favourite entry in the series, has made a somewhat successful conversion to the Switch, even though it features a handful of technical issues. If you haven’t played any of the Darksiders games before, this is an absolute must, as even though it is the least visually impressive version of the game out there, the portability factor is a major plus.

 

Graphics: 6.0

A disappointing Switch port from a technical standpoint, with framerate hiccups, but still worth picking up.

Gameplay: 7.5

Some awkward control choices aside, Darksiders II plays well enough. It is mostly hindered by its framerate and the fact that the joycons aren’t exactly very comfortable to begin with.

Sound: 9.0

Jesper Kyd’s soundtrack is still one of Darksiders II’s main highlights. The voice acting is also pretty good.

Fun Factor: 8.0

The handful of issues I’ve encountered in this port didn’t stop me from enjoying the best Darksiders game ever released.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition is available now on PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii U and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition was provided by the publisher.

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