When Darksiders II was released last month, there was a lot of talk about the game’s first downloadable quest, Argul’s Tomb. Those conversations and written words focused on the pack because it was offered as a free gift to people who pre-ordered or purchased the game’s first-run Limited Edition. As such, it was an interesting-sounding incentive, as well as a good marketing ploy from both THQ and Vigil Games. That’s especially true considering the fact that anyone who skipped on placing an early deposit will need to pay $7 or 560 Microsoft Points in order to play through the brand new campaign.
Now that it’s been officially released through downloadable means, many are surely wondering whether Argul’s Tomb was worth all of its created, pre-release buzz.
Instead of activating through the action-RPG’s core campaign, Vigil’s latest offering actually launches as a separate story, and is found within Darksiders II‘s downloadable content hub. Once selected, it opens up on its lonesome, pitting each player’s unique, digital version of Death, against some stiff competition in a brand new, frozen over region. Essentially, it’s just a brief, one-off quest line, as opposed to anything large or noteworthy.
Upon starting, players are re-introduced to Ostegoth, a memorable character from the main experience. Acting as a guide, he possesses some important information regarding a betrayed former king, Argul, who once inhabited the icy area. The tale is somewhat interesting, but is lacking in depth, as is the entire campaign. You’re essentially told to quest through the area’s forgotten dungeons, wherein you’ll find out more about the historical leader. However, even the concluding moments of the arc are unfortunately ho-hum.
After speaking to the strange beast, two traditional dungeons become available for traversal, along with one enemy-filled cave. Generally speaking, what’s presented within those chilly locations is familiar stuff – hacking, slashing, looting, platforming and puzzle solving. There is one part which bucks the trend, however, as it acts more like a third-person shooting segment than anything else. That part doesn’t last for too long, but it adds some welcomed variety, because its offered action feels different from what we’ve experienced before – at least with regards to this series. Sure, projectile weaponry did play a role in the core experience, but not in an on-rails sort of way, which is what you’ll find here.
The best thing about Argul’s Tomb is that it offers Darksiders II fanatics more of what they enjoy, and in challenging fashion. Most of the presented combat takes place in closed-in environments, and a couple of the puzzles may stump some players. Plus, there’s more loot to find, and some additional experience to gather. Those are all good things, but they’re counteracted by a lack of length, depth and memorable content. Combined with a couple of experienced glitches, those cons prohibited me from enjoying this sub-campaign as much as I’d hoped to.
From start to finish, it only took me about an hour and a half to play through this experience. Based on that running time, it’s tough to wholeheartedly recommend something that costs $7 unless it’s phenomenal, which this debut add-on is not. It’s decent, but nothing special, and needs a patch. During one instance, Death became stuck in Reaper mode. He couldn’t die, and I couldn’t attack, prompting me to quit and restart the section. Also, later on, he began to slide around like an ice skater, before falling into a non-rendered abyss.
Apart from the above-mentioned issues, everything ran well. The new region looked pretty good, with its blue-tinted ice and middle-of-nowhere motif, and its dungeons certainly didn’t lack detail. Of course, this extra content runs on the game’s core engine, with familiar combat effects and a quality score complementing a bit of new dialogue. If the glitches weren’t present, it’d be tough to really knock the presentation factor here.
In the end, Argul’s Tomb is less noteworthy than it could’ve been. Sure, it provides new dungeons to explore, as well as an opportunity to earn more experience, but there’s nothing memorable within its lifespan. Furthermore, it doesn’t come with achievements or trophies, let alone any real replay value. As a result, it’s tough to recommend spending $7 on the new campaign, unless you’re a huge fan of the series and can’t wait for this sequel’s other (confirmed) add-ons. Then again, a rather large amount of people should receive this extra content for free.
This review is based on a copy of the DLC that we were supplied with for review purposes.
Note: The screenshots featured above are from Darksiders II‘s core campaign.