Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Action RPG
Developer: Vigil Games
Publisher: THQ
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch) – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Very satisfying combat controls
Bad: Camera defaults can be annoying
User Score
9.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)

It’s been seven years since Darksiders II was first released across the then current-gen consoles, and the initial release of the enhanced “Deathinitive Edition” of this beloved game dates back to 2015. With Darksiders III nearly a year old and prequel Darksiders Genesis already on the way, nobody can deny that the Switch port is late to the party. Is it worth double-dipping if you’ve already completed Death’s quest before?

Story

The opening cutscene places the events in Darksiders II parallel to the events that unfold in the first entry in the Darksiders franchise. After learning the origin story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, you are introduced to our protagonist, Death. The narrator briefly explains that Death is on a quest to restore humanity, in order to clear his brother, War, of his crimes. In order to complete this goal, Death must travel to the Tree of Life, and face many dangers along the way.

The events that unfold in Darksiders II feel intrinsically tied to those in the first game. This feels very much like a game that you get more depth out of if you’re familiar with the events of the original Darksiders. Fortunately for those that aren’t very well versed in the lore of the Darksiders franchise, the cutscenes that tell the story can also be taken at face value, simply as a way of tying the dungeons together. Although you meet a ton of characters on your journey, none of them are truly memorable except for Death himself.

Graphics

The original release of Darksiders II bit off more than it could chew in the graphics department. It looked visually impressive but pushed the consoles it was published on to their limits, resulting in some severe framerate drops. Not so in this Deathinitive Edition, where everything is smooth, with crisp graphics and excellent lighting effects. One thing that can be frustrating is the camera, however. By default, it remains locked onto Death, which can be a bit annoying in the environment based puzzles, especially the ones that require precise timing. While you can adjust your viewpoint manually, and the camera issues are by no means game-breaking, they are still worth mentioning here.

The defining characteristics in this Deathinitive Edition lie in the graphical upgrades it offers over the original 2012 release, and although the Switch isn’t particularly known for its graphical processing power, these enhancements have successfully made the jump to Nintendo’s handheld console. This is a gorgeous looking port. Of course, this is still a 2015 game and its age is showing, especially when playing in docked mode but any fears that the Switch version would suffer from the framerate issues that plagued the original game are unfounded.

Sound

You’d expect a game like this to provide an epic soundtrack and thankfully, Darksiders II doesn’t disappoint. Jesper Kyd’s score feels suitably cinematic and bombastic without going over the top. The voice acting is top-notch as well, with renowned voice actors like Phil LaMarr and Troy Baker bringing life to the characters you encounter. Michael Wincott’s Death stands out especially, as he always seems to have a witty remark or quip ready, no matter how dire the situation is. Part of this is due to great writing, of course, but you can hear how much fun Wincott is having with the role.

Gameplay

Despite its age, Darksiders II is still one of the best action RPGs out there. It plays like a hybrid between God of War and a Zelda game, with tight, smooth combat and environment-based dungeon puzzles. Of course, your ultimate goal in the story is to exonerate War from his crimes, and the way to do so is standard RPG fare: travel from dungeon to dungeon and clear them as you navigate through puzzles and fight bosses. The semi-open world environments you’re exploring never feel repetitive, and despite there always being only one way to clear a level, the sheer size of each makes you feel like there’s a lot more freedom in exploration than there actually is.

At times, these dungeons can feel overwhelming simply due to their scope, but fortunately, Death is accompanied by his trusty raven, Dust. Dust will act both as a guide and as a way to sniff out treasure chests. Following the hints provided by this loyal companion quickly become second nature. Dust may show you where to go, but exactly HOW to get from point A to point B is something else though, as you’ll need to use your abilities to figure out how to navigate the levels. Most of the puzzles you encounter here are environment based, and require you to jump, grapple and leap and perform a variety of acrobatics to get where you need to be. It might take some time to get used to timing your moves but once you make that click, controlling Death quickly becomes very satisfying.

Apart from exploration and puzzle solving, there is, of course, a significant focus on combat. This is where Darksiders II really shines. Death is a very powerful character wielding a pair of scythes, and controlling him feels exactly as you’d expect. The combat controls are expertly crafted, with a lock-on mechanic that allows you to instantly focus on enemies even as they swirl around you. As you progress through the game, new abilities and weapons unlock as well, so fighting enemies isn’t just satisfying at the beginning of the game, but it also never becomes stale as it feels like Death’s fighting skills are constantly evolving, and you’ll be able to adjust your fighting style depending on what weapon you choose to equip. That doesn’t mean that you’ll simply dance your way through the game though. Death may be powerful but his enemies –especially the bosses you face- are no pushovers either. The result is a game that ends up being challenging but not frustratingly difficult.

It should be noted that the Deathinitive edition also includes three DLC expansions for the game, resulting in a 30+ hour experience that you can play on the go.

Conclusion

Darksiders II has been available in some form or another across two console generations for the past seven years. It’s hard to imagine that anyone even remotely interested in the game hasn’t had the chance to pick it up on another platform. However, the game has stood the test of time remarkably well. If you haven’t gotten to grips with this game, it’s highly recommended to give it a try. If you’re keen to revisit it, then the possibility to play it on the go should be something to consider. The biggest surprise here is just how well the game performs on the Switch. If the eventual Switch port of Darksiders III is handled just as good, it might be worth the wait to pick it up, if you haven’t already done so on Xbox One or PS4.

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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
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Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition (Switch) - Review, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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