When Darksiders II launched in mid-August, a season pass debuted alongside it, as THQ and Vigil Games chose to take advantage of one of today’s well-used marketing ploys. Advertised like all of the others, the pre-sell download promised access to the game’s major downloadable content packs at a cheaper price than what they would retail for alone. Seeming to be a good deal for those who looked forward to getting a lot of extra play time out of the anticipated action-RPG through the use of post-release add-ons, it surely sold relatively well.
This week, The Abyssal Forge, the first add-on included within the pass’ set-up, was released. As a result, gamers who paid in advance can now begin to receive their discounted rewards, though the question still remains as to whether the entire pass will be a worthwhile investment when all is said and done. Of course, that question cannot be answered until the second promised expansion is released, though we can talk about the pros and cons of its predecessor at this current moment.
Presenting a brand new mini-campaign that must be launched separately, The Abyssal Forge sends Death to a remote and rather eerie location known as the Shadow Lands. It’s there where the titular forge is running out of control. You see, an interesting-looking new construct, which acts as the quest’s guide, created the contraption and regarded it as his masterpiece. That was until problems occurred, turning the mechanical creation into an evildoer bent on taking over the world through the use of its crafted minions.
Although backstory as to how Death arrived in the Shadow Lands is scarce, it is mentioned that the realm’s previously closed portal was opened due to the chaos that gripped the game world during its main campaign. Based on that news, it seems as if the Horseman somehow stumbled into it and made his way to what is apparently a forgotten location set apart from the others. The good thing is that he can help his new friend restore peace to his shadowy home, but the bad news is that the portal’s availability has the malfunctioning baddie planning to send his minions into the world’s far out reaches, where they will cause chaos and destruction. Cue the player.
Unlike Argul’s Tomb before it, The Abyssal Forge feels more complete. Its storyline has more depth, and its presented content seems to have had more thought put into it. However, the fact remains that this downloadable content pack only adds one quest to the experience, and primarily takes place within one large dungeon. The location itself is interesting and has some memorable puzzles, along with some large-scale encounters, but the length issue that I mentioned last time is still there. Though it’s longer than its predecessor by approximately half an hour to an hour, The Abyssal Forge can easily be completed within one to two hours, with that timeframe depending upon whether the player gets stuck at any point.
From a gameplay standpoint, nothing has really changed. You’re still climbing, swimming and wall running throughout a dungeon, solving puzzles and battling enemies while attempting to find quest items. In this instance, Death is looking for several crystals. Combined, they’re required to create a much-needed item that would see the protagonist make his way through previously inaccessible swamp water. With it equipped, he’d become invincible towards the harmful liquid and its eerie bubbles, making it a must considering that the final boss happens to be located on the other end of the largest swamp the area possesses.
When it comes to gameplay, this downloadable file is so similar to the main game that it’s tough to complain about that facet of its short experience. In fact, if it were longer, it’d be easy to recommend. However, the fact that THQ is planning to retail The Abyssal Forge for ten dollars (800 Microsoft Points) makes it harder to fully endorse. What’s there is of quality, and I enjoyed running through the main dungeon and receiving a decent heavy weapon at the end of it all. The problem is that, once that’s over with, all that’s left is a tiny dungeon where a bit of loot resides. Sure, you get a second weapon there, but it’s nothing worth writing home about.
On the plus side, I did receive some noteworthy gear during my time spent within The Abyssal Forge, and the miniature expansion did look and sound quite great. The new constructs all feature interesting and detailed designs, and they actually ended up being more memorable than some of the foes presented within Darksiders II‘s main campaign. Plus, the core dungeon has just about everything that fans of the game would want. That is, apart from portal pads, although those were overused in the previous two campaigns.
In the end, The Abyssal Forge is a noticeable improvement over the Argul’s Tomb add-on, though, once again, there’s not enough to it. When you’re paying a sizeable price for extra content like this, it should be longer than an hour or two. However, with that being said, fans of the game will surely enjoy the brief adventure that this add-on includes.
This review is based on an XBOX 360 copy of the add-on that was provided to us.