I must confess on two matters regarding the game I’m giving an impression of in this post. First, is that I’m a visually picky gamer. By visually, I mean strictly the artistic style as well as the character and environmental concepts of the game. I don’t so much care if the graphics of a game are not absolutely top-notch. Depending on how strong the narrative of a game is, I can forgive quite a lot in that regard, because sometimes the narrative strength combined with a novel (I swear that was the first word that came to mind, no puns intended) gameplay system will make the experience immersive enough that I forget that the graphics are somewhat unpolished. However, if the concept art for a game doesn’t interest me, sometimes it’ll be enough for me to pass over a game. I know this is very shallow and silly of me, but it’s simply that I want and need a connection to the world of the game I’m gonna spend at least several hours exploring in. If the visual style is not to my taste, it can be more distracting than it is disappointing and I find distractions very annoying in gaming.
Darksiders was almost a game I passed on experiencing and I feel very ashamed of that. I think this game taught me a lesson about not judging games solely on their initial visual pull. When I first saw a demo for the game that my dad had downloaded awhile back, I was quite detached from the concept design. That’s not to say I disliked it, it was just that games like Gears of War and God of War had kind of brought about this norm of having gorilla-like protagonists that are gigantic in proportions and so exaggerated that it put me in mind of a very archetypal comic book style. That’s not to say I can’t enjoy very stylized art, but this particular kind of stylized art was not very interesting to me. I tend to dislike it when characters have a sort of template feel to them, the male characters have a general bodytype that they all share, more or less: chiseled square/rectangular jawlines, hugely-set shoulders, boulder sized fists and barrel chests, to name a few traits. The female characters also have their own template, but it’s not even worth running through that list, because it’s pretty obvious what’s emphasized and what isn’t there.
That aside however, if I had dismissed Darksiders simply because I didn’t immediately like The Horseman War’s design or the overall style, I would’ve missed on so much: the excellent world-building, the tight dialogue and the unique blending of different theologies and mythologies, not to mention an amazing soundtrack. This game is like the new Soul Reaver saga for me. There’s a very cinematic feel to the action, that starts from the very start of the game and only grows stronger throughout. At first I just tuned in a couple times begrudgingly while my dad played the game, and eventually found myself taking up the controller to defeat a couple bosses, explore the expansive environments and help solve some of the challenging puzzles there are to be had in the game.
The art style grew on me eventually, as well. It reminded me of when I used to watch Batman and Robin: The Animated Series and Gargoyles as a kid. Speaking of those cartoons, the voice cast for Darksiders is fantastic as well, including Liam O’ Brien, Mark Hamill, and Phil LaMarr among other actors/actresses of note. The style upon further inspection, had a great charm that was both thoughtful (I especially love that these war-torn characters have many visible battle scars) and nostalgic. I’m also highly impressed with the fact that almost all of the creative work was handled by Joe Madureira.
Alright, second confession. If a game inspires me to research the mythology and theology behind the world it’s created, it’ll usually become a game of interest to me. I love to sharpen my research skills, especially when it is concerning things that I love, and if I’ve learned anything over the past few weeks I’ve played Darksiders it’s that I have an unabashed love of the world they’ve created. I want to devote another post to the world building they’ve done, specifically.
I’m unfortunately a little late in making this post again, because I’m still trying to get a handle on what my school schedule’s going to be like. I have creative writing this semester so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge getting used to posting here regularly. I will make an effort to put something up each Tuesday regardless though, even if it’s a couple of lines.
Alright, that’s a quick one, but I may go back to add on more to this tomorrow.
Let’s meet at the next save point!