Just when you thought it was safe to bid farewell to your Wii U, a lone figure appears on the shadowed horizon. Unhindered by multiple delays, primed for war and ready to impress; the horseman cometh. Darksiders originally released back in 2010, and was hailed as a hidden gem of the last generation. While it skipped Nintendo consoles at the time, the next entry in the franchise - Darksiders II - would later go on to launch alongside the Wii U as a flagship third-party title. Now at the end of that console's lifespan, the original has been freed from purgatory in the form of Darksiders: Warmastered Edition, meaning you can now book-end your Wii U collection with both Darksiders titles in reverse order, if you're into that sort of thing.
While we admit to having a soft spot for its silly alternate subtitle, this 'Warmastered' release is essentially a souped-up remaster of that 2010 original, and it's a remaster which also arrived on PS4, Xbox One and PC late last year. It's the first release from the newly rebranded THQ Nordic, which acquired the rights to the franchise when publisher THQ declared bankruptcy several years back. Although it doesn't boast any additional content, the game has gone through a visual overhaul that improves texture resolution, performance, and runs in "hellish" 1080p HD, so we recommend having an exorcist on hand, just in case.
For anyone taking their first joyride through the apocalypse, Darksiders is a prime example of the action/adventure genre, and balances hack-and-slash gameplay nicely with open environments to traverse, collectibles to find, and upgrades to purchase. Of particular note are the distinctive character designs - the work of seasoned comic book artist Joe Madureira - which help build a strong, colourful aesthetic that is only improved upon further in this remastered edition. The original audio, however, is left untouched so that first-timers can enjoy the bombastic score and some wonderful voice performances from the original cast, including Mark Hamill gleefully chewing the scenery as the villainous Joke-uhhh... Watcher. There's a lot of production value pushing Darksiders forward, and it makes for a simultaneously cheesy and ambitious experience when blended so well together.
The plot kicks off with a massive war that erupts between Heaven and Hell, with Earth serving as the desolate battlefield for said war once mankind is swiftly annihilated. An ancient force known as The Charred Council were meant to mediate this confrontation, but one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse is somehow tricked into jumping the gun and starts Armaggedon early, throwing everything off-balance as a result. You play as this early bird horseman, appropriately titled War, and in the wake of 100 years of chaos you must investigate what happened and find out who or what is to blame for the false start. Stripped of your powers, labelled a traitor and assigned a shadowy supervisor to keep an eye on your behaviour, you start from scratch and need to build your skill-set back up to its former glory.
In order to do so you'll embark on a quest that pits you against angels, demons, and everything in between, searching for clues and making deals with devils in exchange for information and further power. The center of your journey is a semi-open world hub area, from which you can access a number of smaller areas with their own individual dungeon to complete. Even at the time of its initial release, comparisons were drawn between Darksiders and The Legend of Zelda series, and these dungeons are perhaps the most striking example of the similarity between the two. They're surprisingly lengthy and dense areas, filled with puzzles to solve, hordes of enemies to defeat, new gear to unlock and a nasty boss to use it on soon after. Right down to the maps and keys, the influence is clear, but it doesn't cheapen the experience in any way as Darksiders successfully carves out a chunky, playfully grim niche for itself in the genre.
Exploration is also straightforward and rewarding, with health and magic upgrades available in collectable fragments - heart container style - that are scattered throughout all manner of apocalyptic nooks and crannys. War is a surprisingly nimble guy for someone comprised of 90% spiky armour, and can navigate most environments with ease thanks to his ability to climb, jump, swim and glide across obstacles. You'll come across many areas which are inaccessible at first, but upon expanding your arsenal you'll always be able to return and unlock additional areas by making use of new items or skills. A fast travel system is in place to make return journeys far simpler as well, and its method of teleportation via a wormhole is particularly novel.
Combat itself starts off fairly bare-bones, but once you're given access to the game's demonic shopkeeper it won't be long before you're switching between alternate weapons, firing off special abilities and even launching into a kind of rage mode for ultimate destruction. As a result, the first portion of the game feels annoyingly limited as far as combat is concerned, while the latter half has you juggling so many buttons and combinations that it gets pretty overwhelming by comparison. We ended up sticking with a few key skills and combos, managing to strike a nice balance of diversity and simplicity by doing so, but the option is there to go all out with dozens of different combinations, as long as you don't mind memorising more inputs than we could shake an oversized sword at.
There are plenty of memorable moments sprinkled throughout the game as well, including a flight on the back of a griffin, a section where your kills are counted and compared to a competing warrior's tally (which isn't Gimli, sadly), and the retrieval of your dreaded horse, Ruin. These highlights are generally a welcome change of pace, but for every awesome boss fight or thrilling horseback assault, there's a mandatory 'kill 30 enemies within the time limit' challenge to beat or some wonky aiming reticles to deal with. Thankfully, the good easily outweighs the bad, making for a solid cycle of exploration, combat, action set-pieces, and puzzle solving. Expect plenty of switch-pulling, precision jumping and memorisation when working your way through the dungeons in particular.
As a budget title, you definitely get bang for your buck with this lengthy, 20 hour+ campaign, but the Wii U version is by no means perfect. According to THQ Nordic, development for Nintendo's console took longer than other platforms due to the unexpected difficulty of optimising it to run properly and so they held off until they were satisfied with the end result. While this is an admirable move on the part of THQ Nordic, it hasn't entirely been successful as several bugs still plague both the digital and physical versions of the Wii U release. Sudden, game-freezing loading screens, disappearing platforms, and even numerous crashes have all been reported, and we encountered several other glitches, including one where an entire audio channel cut out, rendering much of the audio totally inaudible until we left the area. In another area a mini-boss unintentionally caused the floor to turn invisible and randomly change shape, forcing us to restart the fight three times until we eventually memorised where the invisible floor was.
Controversially, the back of the box claims that, like the PS4 and XBox One versions, Darksiders runs at 60fps on Wii U. This isn't the case, as the game is actually capped at 30fps and often drops to lower numbers when things get too busy with particle effects. It's a decently solid 30fps, but nowhere near the standard of 60fps that is mistakenly advertised on the box. That being said, frame-tearing is no longer an issue, something which plagued the original release, and the improved visuals are truly effective at cleaning up the overall look of the game. Whether or not the lower frame rate affects your experience will likely be a matter of personal taste, but the glitches are extremely invasive, and we can only hope a patch helps alleviate the problem in the near future. As a final aside, the whole game is playable in off-TV mode, which is constantly displayed on the Wii U GamePad at all times.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition may be a bit late to the party, and borrows some material from other guests, but it's a welcome addition that still has a few good stories to tell and a trick or two left up its sleeve. It's a remarkably solid experience that combines a distinct aesthetic with varied gameplay, satisfying combat and fast-paced exploration, all centred around a story about the apocalypse. After you really click with a few key abilities early on the game opens wide up, and for anyone who hasn't already played the original this is a solid port of a hidden gem. The visual upgrades do make a big difference, but a slew of gltiches, crashes and software issues go to some lengths to unravel that through sheer frustration alone. Overall, then, it's not the ultimate version of Darksiders currently available, but it's a reasonable attempt for those that want to experience how it all began on their Wii U.
Cool! I'm considering getting this for Wii U because I have it on PS4 as a digital download but it keeps crashing at the same exact moment without fail and I refuse to play it again until the issue gets fixed.
Then again... If the same crash happens in this version I just might not bother.
Shame about the glitches. Still for €17 I don't really have any complaints. Darksiders 2 had glitches too but it didn't impede my enjoyment of the game.
I have this sitting on my shelf sealed and I can't wait to play it. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed Darksiders 2 on the Wii U
i have this game for ps3, ps4, xbox 360, xbox one, and pc. i have no idea why. i also have no idea why i'll probably get this one as well.
I poured about an hour into it upon receipt and thought is was fantastic. I'll continue the next time the kids hog the Switch.
I gave up due to the glitches. It was worth my £15 for the fun I had with it, but I would be cautious to buy a full priced release from the developer until I had complete confidence they had solved their issues with these game breaking bugs.
This was my #100 Wii U boxed game. Might seem silly, but I am really happy to be able to have both on Wii U. I hope they eventually find their way to the Switch and hopefully "Darksiders III" delivers.
"...a slew of gltiches"?
All I can say is too little too late. Most of the Nintendo fans (like me) have either boxed or sold their Wii Us. Would have been better to pull a BotW and release it on both Wii U and Switch or abandon the Wii U ver.
Good review. I'll buy the Wii U version to support developers who stays true to their world, actually releasing the games as promised. I will, however, play it on my PS4.
@Shiryu Wow, that's an impressive number of boxed games. While I'm not too far removed from 100 Wii U games, I would guess half of them are eShop games.
Thanks for dusting off the ole Wii U and putting together a review for this. I ordered one back when it was first released in May, and I've played it for about half an hour with no issues. That's disappointing to hear about the glitches, especially after the game was delayed to optimize it. Glitchy games are definitely a pain to play through (stink-eye glance at CoD: Ghosts). But, I guess I'm just happy they followed through and released it.
@Sinton I need to eventually go sort out my Wii U digital listing...
Great game... could have put a bit more work into bug testing though... had a handful of complete crashes and would occasionally clip through the scenery and either get stuck inside an object, or start falling endlessly.
Have this digitally on PS3 whilst its sequel on Wii U from a Humble Bundle. Will probably get rhis digitally too as I wanna play it, but not really own it. Will also wait for a sale.
Is this anything like Bayonetta in terms of gameplay? I finally finished Bayo 1 & 2 and would like another fun action game on WiiU... but I don't have time for games that are easy to get stuck on or require complicated controls or fetch-quests... especially since weeks/months go by in between play sessions and when I come back to it I will need to re-learn the controls and remember what the hell I was doing...
Bayonetta had very straight forward controls and objectives... unlike Arkham City, which I never quite finished.
I was surprised to see this review. I figured it was never coming since it's been some time since this version came out.
I still want to pick this game up, but it's a shame it has so many bugs.
I bought it but after playing it for an hour or so realized I probably shouldn't have. While I liked what I played I don't get much game time on the tv and really don't want to play on the gamepads 480p screen. The Switch has spoiled me and I wish this was on it instead.
@Yasaal I haven't boxed up or sold my Wii U, nor do I plan to. The Switch isn't backwards compatible and I've got a huge backlog of Wii U games to finish at some point, plus it's the only system where I can play HD Smash Bros or Virtual Console games. It surprises me that people can just immediately abandon an entire generation of games once a new system releases. I still have all seven Nintendo consoles hooked up and running.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE If this was a Switch game you'd be complaining about it being a glitchy port
@PoisonRain just called him out for the same damn thing in the NPD thread where he's yet again bashing the Switch for having nothing but ports.
@thesilverbrick Wow. I never thought that there'd be people who haven't yet boxed their Wii U. Hats off to you for being a real supporter. Personally I loved the Wii U but my TV has only one HDMI port so Apart from that YOU STILL GOT YOUR NES ROLLING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS??? WOW!
I haven't boxed up or sold my Wii U. I've, in a manner of speaking, passed it down to my daughter. She still enjoys watching me play Wind Waker HD, Mario Maker and Smash Bros. She loves the little Amiibo game (Mario and Friends?) and she likes using it to watch Youtube.
As for Darksiders, I played this on the 360 oh so long ago. Great game. Went on a tad bit longer than needed. But it was fun and the boss battles were epic. I have Darksiders II as a free game for the 360. But have yet to actually start it.
Got the Wiiu version it's brilliant plus best way to support developer who supported the Wiiu
I've put a couple of hours into this so far and haven't had any glitches yet, but it's worrying to see so many people complain about it.
Considering it's been out for a feew weeks now, I'm suprised we've heard nothing from THQ Nordic on whether they're on bug fixing duties or not. And I'm worried that we never will.
I bought it out of support but likely wont crack the cellophane as I have it on PC.
I really enjoyed Darksiders II on Wii U until I encountered a game breaking glitch about 11-12 hours in. A ball required to complete a puzzle wouldn't reset to its original platform and no matter how many times I re-loaded, the game's autosave meant it made no difference. I didn't have the patience to start again, hopefully there's no similar glitches in this remastered version of the original.
Funny, at the time you posted this review, I've just completed the game on PC. I've really enjoyed playing this game. Challenging puzzle, hard to find collectibles, and good combat mechanics. The thing that have made the game bad that the game stuttering when moving through Serpent Holes, and also when in some of the places in the game.
Can't wait to install the sequel on PC. I already have the Wii U version, but there is no harm in trying it on other machines.
@SLIGEACH_EIRE would you say the same if it was released on switch it this broken state I wonder.
@Yasaal buy a 5 port HDMI hub to fix that problem
@subpopz That's great to be honest. The Wii U has many amazing games that can still be replayed.
@fungusar Wow never thought of that. I'll see if there is one and buy that. Doubt my TV will handle that load but I'll try.
@Yasaal I hear you about the lack of HDMI ports on the TV. I had to buy a splitter to get everything hooked up simultaneously, and my older consoles that connect through coaxial ports or AV composite cables share cords when possible. And yes, my NES is still running. I don't use it a whole lot, because of the Virtual Console, but it does still work, though sometimes it needs a little bit of coaxing.
@Yasaal Iam sure your tv can handle it, i have 2 HDMI on my phillips HD TV and i use 2 5 ports hubs with Wii/Wii U/Switch/PS2/PS3/PS4/Xbox 360 and Xbox One and it runs fine.
...only a 7?...ah, what the hell.. I guess, like Mark Hamill, I'll also join the Darksiders ;p ...
@thesilverbrick @Yasaal @subpopz... I still have my nes, SNES, N64, GameCube, Wii, Wii u, Dreamcast, PS1, 2, 3 & 4, Xbox and Xbox 360 hooked up, I thought this was normal?
Man I'd been quite excited about this one but all the crashes and glitches are really disappointing. DS2 was also plague with glitches and framerate issues on WiiU. I really thought Nordic would make this one run as smooth as they did The Legend of Kay. I know it's less technically demanding on the hardware but they really made it sing on the WiiU.
@holygeez03 I'd say this game is the result of what you get when you put Zelda and any game like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry in a blender.
It's equal parts great lore/story building, adventuring, fighting with all manner of weapons and special powers, and puzzle solving, but although some are tasking, I haven't met any in either of the two games that aren't logical, and puzzle solving isn't even my strong suit.
At this price, it is well worth a try, although personally, I'd also consider another console version if you own any and if there are truly that many bugs and glitches in it.
I only ever played the original on Xbox 360, although I do have part 2 on the Wii U, and that plays just fine.
@Yasaal Not that you should let me spend your money for you, but you can get a home theater in a box for a decent price, and not only will you have more HDMI inputs, but you won't be stuck with listening to poor TV speakers. I went from two 10W speakers to six 100W. Totally worth it to me.
Already got it.
@subpopz Did you hook up that Dreamcast with a VGA Box? If not, you should definitely consider it, provided your TV has such a connection, obviously.
I've got this one, as it is both relatively cheap and performs really well:
It supports both VGA and S-Video, and ups the images to the Dreamcast's native 480p while also removing all the noise from the images and colors, making it look like your TV is a PC monitor.
Dreamcast games only ever looked this good on developer's systems, since they actually also had them hooked up to VGA monitors...
@subpopz Just in case and to give you some idea of the difference in image, here are some examples, with normal image on the right and VGA box being on the left:
@PanurgeJr Ok will see what I can do. Thanks for the recommendation
@SmithJurd Normal? Well I don't know about that, but amazing? Yes
One last run of NL Blue, huh? It's nice to see.
Also beautifully symmetrical that everything comes full circle. The WiiU goes out with Darksiders, as the WiiU came in with Darksiders.
@Hikingguy I have a hub/switch thingy that I plug all my non hd consoles in to so I can at least keep those wires away from the usual melee around the back of the TV... I haven't finished yet either, still need to improve my sega collection, switch is next on the list though. Sadly both my Atari 2600 and Jaguar died painful deaths so hoping to replace them at some point too. And I need them all to be playable without having to faf around with unboxing and plugging in cables. At that point the cable situation will get unmanageable so I guess I'm just going to have to have one of the kids move out 😀
@Hikingguy That's correct. That's why I have the VGA Box that also has the S-Video connection, for that purpose specifically. Not quite as good in picture quality as VGA, but still better than the standard cable that comes with the console.
I'm quite pleased that NL actually reviewed Darksiders on Wii U. I was starting to think the site would ignore this one.
I have the game, but haven't yet played it; most of my Wii U time lately has been devoted to Metroid Prime Trilogy (currently playing Echoes). If I like the game, I may pick up Darksiders II used at some point.
@subpopz No S-Video either then, I guess. Then you're probably going to have to look into the territory of the more luxury/high-end upscale boxes, because like @Hikingguy said, not all games are VGA compatible, so you'd also need one with that S-Video connection, so only HDMI to VGA isn't going to cover all bases, unfortunately. (unless there's also S-Video to HDMI, but you would need enough free HDMI inputs on your TV for that, or an HDMI hub)
But there's good news along with the bad: most of these high end converter boxes allow for multiple consoles to be connected, modern ones have HDMI as standard, and nine out of ten times, everything ranging from Atari 2600 & NES/Master System up to the pre-HD gen consoles (GameCube/PS2/Xbox) can be connected and upscaled.
Here's some links with examples of boxes, a video playlist on the Framemeister upscaler, with loads of retro system videos and a NeoGAF thread with a ton of info on retro gaming on newer TV's:
And here's an upcoming new solution for the Dreamcast, with a built-in switch for those non-VGA games:
A bit expensive maybe, for such a small device, but it has it's own HDMI connector and it has added features such as scanline filters, if you're into making your HD TV looking like an old monitor and stuff...
And here's some REALLY expensive ones, for the pros and people that take their gaming and their consoles VERY seriously:
@SmithJurd Sounds to me like my other comment right above this one could also do you some good, considering the number of consoles you still have connected, especially if they're still connected with the old/original wiring...
I've picked it up and put a couple hours into it. So far I'm enjoying it.
@ThanosReXXX Yup, all still original wiring. Those sound perfect and certainly something I've been meaning to do for a while now but I'm currently working on building a custom cabinet to house them all... Might be worth sorting the connectivity before I commit to any sort of design though. Thanks for the links!
Having hijacked the thread I'll get back on topic and say that I wasn't really bothered about DS 2 when I got it as part of the humble bundle but ended up playing the arse off of it and since I've never played the original I'm definitely tempted to pick it up, warts and all. Thanks to THQ Nordic for delivering on the promise when most would have quietly binned it and probably have been no worse off for it and to nlife for reviewing it.
@SmithJurd Well, the wiring isn't going to be an issue if you can connect it all to one box that leads into your screen, so if you're set on keeping all of those consoles hooked up, it's certainly worth looking into, even more so because of the considerable upgrade in graphic fidelity.
First order of business in your case would be to at the very least get the highest (or higher) quality cables for all of your consoles, so at least S-Video or RGB for all of them and component if they have that option. Get rid of all the composite cables. They worked well enough for CRT screens, but they're simply not adequate anymore on large HD screens.
Personally, I have certainly never regretted buying the VGA Box for my Sega Dreamcast. I have a 42" Full HD plasma TV from Panasonic (Viera), and the games look brilliant on it, even though they're only 480p, but the image is so clean and crisp, that the first time I hooked it all up, I just kept staring at game after game without ever playing one, simply letting them run in their demo modes to see how it all looked, and it was amazing.
What's also amazing is how well some of these games still hold up, even today, especially considering the age of the system.
And you're welcome where those links are concerned, hope they come in handy somewhere in the near future...
But back on topic indeed: Ha, that's funny, I also got Darksiders 2 by buying the Wii U/3DS Humble Bundle.
But in my case, it was with the VERY good memories of the first game in mind, since I've already played that on the Xbox 360, so I can definitely recommend it.
That Humble Bundle was also one of the very few digital purchases I've made: I'm a physical media guy first and foremost, also for movies and music.
As for the game: personally, I actually liked the first one better than the second one, although it's a very close finish...
But I won't spoil it for you by telling you why, so I hope you will buy it and that you'll like it, but if you enjoyed the second game that much, then I'm pretty sure that you will.
@ThanosReXXX I've gone component on the Wii but all of the others are stock currently (composite or composite through a scart block) and the av hub I'm using outputs composite also. If I get a moment's peace at work tomorrow I know what I'll be doing 😀
I'll definitely pick this up then, I've been planning starting afresh on 2 for some time as it's been a while since I played it but I guess I'll play through the first one... First!
Thanks for your input (pun intended!) and advice though, I'm not particularly AV minded so it's very much appreciated.
Are they going to patch? I'm not buying a broken game
@Yasaal do what? Boxed or sold Wii u's?
I keep a collection of systems and games.
Did you already sell your system and games?
Curious, do you replay any games? Or once and done?
I guess I'm different for keeping all my games and systems.
Most people consider boxing or selling their old consoles once the new console gets launched.
Either it's because of money problems or because they don't need the old console anymore.
I haven't sold my Wii U yet, and don't intend to.
I replay games from time to time, although admittedly not that much (maybe once in 2 months). But that's when I get a new console. In terms of the Wii U my TV doesn't have multiple HDMI ports so unfortunately had to box my Wii U to make place for the Switch.
@Yasaal I think you are a bit generalizing if you say that "most people" sell their console once a new console gets launched. I assume that a lot of people who had a Wii U will keep theirs even when they get a Switch. The Wii U can play two whole game libraries, the Wii U and Wii, which the Switch can't. People who have a console like a PS4 or XBox One and get a Switch for Nintendo games will also most likely keep their PS4 or XBox One. I will also keep my Wii U hooked up when I get a Switch. I am mostly waiting for the Splatoon 2 bundle right now. XD
I can understand with the situation where people went from the Wii to the Wii U that they sold their Wii since the Wii U is backwards compatible.
I am more surprised about TVs with only one HDMI port. My TV is already 8 years old and it even has 3 HDMI-ports.
Credit to the devs and publisher for staying true to their word. Don't know what they're expectations are for sales (they can't be great) but hopefully a miracle happens and this does well enough to get them to consider Darksiders III for Switch.
A miracle that this still got reviewed on this site. Great job guys!
A pity that the game is so unstable though. I am still waiting for my copy, but hope it won't be a crash-fest.
@SmithJurd My pleasure. I like to help out when and where I can by spreading the knowledge of how to improve your gaming experience...
Bought it, a good game for the price. I doubt there will be a patch. We will have to live with some glitches like Darksiders II.
I want to get this just because it's basically the last major Wii U game.
@Yasaal speak for yourself sir- my Wii u is still under the to with my N64 and game cube
@Hikingguy You're more than welcome, man. Whenever I get the chance, I simply must recommend a VGA Box, because no serious Dreamcast owner should be without one.
And I hear you on that HDMI port problem: my slightly older HD TV (Panasonic Viera, 42" plasma) still has 3 HDMI ports (and a component, S-Video and VGA port, by the way) but with the TV set top box, a Blu-ray recorder and two HD consoles connected, it already forced me to buy a HDMI switch, to add a couple more ports.
By the way: that multi-console converter box in the first link I posted in that comment isn't too shabby either...
Oh, I finally got the game in the mail yesterday. Tried it today, played 2 hours, great so far. Looks and plays great, no problems so far. Hopefully it stays that way!
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