Say what you will about remasters, but they’re here to stay. In fact, they’ve become so engrained in the video game industry that it seems like a new one is released every few weeks. Maybe that’s not the case, but there certainly have been a lot of them. You won’t find me complaining, though, because I’m in the camp that enjoys going back to big games from yesteryear and experiencing them in visually enhanced form. And, when they’re handled with care, it’s tough to really knock them unless you’re someone who shuns the whole idea for simply being a cash grab.
One remaster that I was really looking forward to was Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition, Nordic Games’ made over re-release of Vigil Games’ thoroughly impressive action RPG. It releases this week, although you wouldn’t know it. With Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Call of Duty: Black Ops III on the near horizon, Death’s dungeon-filled adventure has been overshadowed. It’s unfortunate, but choosing to launch at the end of October wasn’t the best strategy.
What’s really unfortunate here, though, is the fact that Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition wasn’t handled with more care. Unlike some of its peers, which I referenced above, this ‘definitive edition’ shows flaws from its onset and feels undercooked. Surely, it would have benefitted from more time in the oven and a later release date that would set it apart from the big guns of 2015?
For those who happen to be unfamiliar with it, Darksiders II centres upon the plight of Death, who as we all know is one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hoping to prove his brother War’s innocence and restore humanity’s vitality, he sets out on an adventure that takes him to biblical locations, as well as the realm between the Kingdoms of Heaven, Earth and Hell. It’s an epic journey, which is full of action and ripe with dungeon traversal, borrowing gameplay elements from both hack n’ slash games and the Zelda series, itself.
When I first reviewed this game back in 2012, I praised its scope, addictive combat and in-depth loot system, and highly recommended it to fans of its mix of genres. Since this is a review of the remastered version of the game, and the most important thing is how it performs, I won’t rehash everything I said back then. Feel free to check out that very detailed review if you’d like, though, because it’ll complement this one well.
Since it’s only a few years old, Darksiders II cannot be considered an old game and doesn’t feel dated. In fact, it’s just as fun as it was before. At the core of this package lays a very good, deep and addictive game, which features satisfying and visceral combat that is tough to dislike. It is repetitive, and throws too many similar dungeons at you, but that’s the only major complaint I’ve ever had about it. The dungeons are intelligently built, though, which helps keep this negative from being too extreme.
The problem with this Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition isn’t the game itself, but the quality of the port. Disappointingly, several different issues mar what was one of the last generation of consoles’ better experiences.
After downloading and firing up the Xbox One version of the game, the first thing I noticed was static, and it was hard to miss. There was static within the main menu’s music, and it also appeared during gameplay, although its most notable moments came during short, in-game cutscenes with dramatic music. This is something that I haven’t really experienced before, and I hope that they’ll be able to patch it out, because it’s definitely annoying and does a bad job of making this remaster feel like a quality release.
If the static was the only issue to be found here, it’d be easier to give Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition a higher score. That isn’t the case, though, as this re-release also features a bit of stuttering and a framerate that will occasionally drop when there’s nothing going on. Its indoor moments also run better than its open world, outdoor segments, which are where the stutter shows most. Simply put, what is supposed to be the best version of this game doesn’t exactly live up to its name.
I honestly remember the Xbox 360 version running better than the Xbox One version does, which isn’t right and shouldn’t be. It’s a real shame, because I was hoping that this would sell well and pave the way for Darksiders III. The series has been a favourite of mine since its debut, and I hope to find the time to go back and replay the original sometime in the near future. In a perfect world, it would’ve been included in this package, because it’s also a great game and I like things about it better than its sequel.
The good news is that there’s nothing game breaking to be found here – at least, as far as my time with the Xbox One version is concerned. I’ve heard about screen tearing on PS4, but I haven’t experienced any. The game also looks better here than it did before, thanks to 1080p resolution and some overhauled assets, and this is especially evident during interior scenes and when the camera zooms in on Death himself. It doesn’t always look spectacular in action due to some of the faults mentioned above, but you can definitely tell that improvements were made to the game world and its inhabitants’ character models.
You’ll also be happy to hear that all of the game’s previously-released DLC is included here, alongside a brand new difficulty mode. The latter will only be for the most diehard gamers out there, because, from what I’ve heard, it makes things more challenging by limiting your allowed deaths. I stuck with Apocalyptic for this second play through, since I knew I can beat that.
In the end, Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition is a mixed bag and a bit of a disappointment. Underneath some unfortunate issues lays a great game that can still compete with some of the best in its field, but it’s tough to wholly recommend something that doesn’t live up to its name or the promises attached to it, even if it’s budget priced. I wish that wasn’t the case, because I hate giving such a great core game a middling score, but it is what it is.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Darksiders II was a great game back in 2012 and still is today. In fact, it's one of the better action-RPGs out there. However, when it comes to its remastered Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition, what was supposed to be the best version of the game suffers from unnecessary technical issues and is disappointing as a result.