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Vigil Games

#Darksiders2 photo
#Darksiders2

Darksiders 2 remake confirmed, has a punny name


A lot of Vigil team working on it
Jun 11
// Brett Makedonski
Closing in on four months later, we can finally confirm the February leak of a Darksiders 2 remake. Nordic Games announced a 1080p remaster for PS4 and Xbox One. It's cheekily named Darksiders 2 Deathinitive Edition, whi...
Darksiders 2 photo
Darksiders 2

Darksiders II is just the latest in a long line of re-releases


'Definitive,' of course
Feb 13
// Brett Makedonski
Did you like the last generation of gaming on platforms of yesteryear? A lot of good stuff came out for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Legacy consoles are seemingly maintaining their relevance by the sheer number of re-releases ...
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Ex-Vigil staffer on what Darksiders III could have been


Four player co-op was always the hope says former creative director
May 31
// Abel Girmay
In an interview with IGN, Ex-Vigil creative director Joe Madureira released a few nuggets of information on what Darksiders III could have been, provided Vigil staff, and not Nordic Games, had won the bidding war. “It w...

THQ properties photo
THQ properties

Future of Darksiders is uncertain in Nordic Games' hands


No developers, no plans, and maybe not enough money
Apr 24
// Allistair Pinsof
Nordic who? After announcing publisher Nordic Games gained rights to THQ's Darksiders and Red Faction, I saw many ask who Nordic Games is and what its plans are for these series. I'd reference you to Wikipedia for the first p...
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Crytek USA plans to buy the Darksiders license


'The IP belongs in the hands of its creators'
Mar 28
// Jim Sterling
Word on the street is, while Crytek has no current interest in Darksiders 3, Crytek USA wants the brand anyway. Considering the new company boasts ex-Vigil staff, and is indeed headed by the studio's former boss, it's hardly ...
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Disney shuts Junction Point & Crytek USA hires Vigil devs


The Destructoid Show gets super surrious 'bout bizness
Jan 29
// Max Scoville
Hey gang! Lots of crazy industry news today, which is less fun than actual news about games. Today we've got new BioShock Infinite and SimCity trailers to show off, good news on the THQ/Vigil Homefront, and sad news for Epic Mickey studio Junction Point. Also, Dead Space 3 is getting a bare-bones PC port, and Frostbite 2.0 is coming to Mac!
Crytek USA photo
Crytek USA

Crytek opens first U.S. studio, headed by ex-Vigil staff


Are they making an MMO?
Jan 28
// Allistair Pinsof
Crytek will move into Austin, Texas for development on future titles, landing the international company in North America for the first time. “Crytek has always enjoyed a special relationship with gamers and business par...
Darksiders IS Zelda photo
Darksiders IS Zelda

Darksiders IS Zelda, and here's the proof


Vigil Games' art team whipped up this nifty Zelda homage
Jan 25
// Tony Ponce
That the Darksiders games take more than a few cues from The Legend of Zelda -- and may possibly surpass it -- is a secret to nobody. What we were unaware of was that developer Vigil Games always had intentions of supplanting...

Vigil Games' lead combat designer says his goodbyes

Jan 23 // Tony Ponce
My name is Ben Cureton, and I was the Lead Combat Designer at Vigil Games. I'm sitting at my desk among... what appears to be a warzone. The walls look bare. It's quiet. The seats are empty. We've all been on edge for the past couple months... and more so, the last couple weeks. I mean, I'm sure you can imagine what it's like to wonder if you will have a job tomorrow. Most of us here joked about it just to keep the mood light, but we all knew what could happen. Now I look around and I realize... it did happen. Am I sad? Well yea. I've been in this industry for 20 years. Seriously. Two decades. I've been laid off more than once. It sucks every time. But am I sad I don't have a job? Not really... I'm sure I'll get another one eventually. I'm sad because it won't be THIS job. It won't be at Vigil. That's why I'm sad. The people I waged war with are no longer together. The people that I bled with, vented with, argued with (often times LOUDLY), and kicked back with... these people will never be together again in the same combination. Not that it was perfect. But what is perfect? Did I like coming to work? Yes. Was I proud of the work that I did? Yes. More importantly, was I proud of the work that WE did? Absolutely. I knew, without a shadow of the doubt, that the project we were working on (Codenamed: Crawler) was going to blow people away. In fact, it DID blow people away. We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven't done in a year. The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100% every single day, even through the dark times. ... so maybe you can imagine what it feels like when you read the list of who bought what only to discover your name is not on the list. Why? Did we do something wrong? Were we not good enough? Were we not worth 'anything?' Imagine that. Vigil was filled with people that I would put up against the best in the industry. People that made my work better, people that made me a better designer, and people that made me a better person. And now they are gone. Their seats are empty. It's OK, though. I guess this post makes it sound a bit melodramatic. Seriously... if you work in the video game industry you have to be resilient. Doing what you love often comes with a price - anyone who has been around for a while can tell you that. Today, that price has been paid. That being said, I'd still never dissuade anyone from following their dreams if their dream is to make video games. While it's not as romantic as it sounds, it's sure a hell of a lot of fun. So don't cry for the people at Vigil. We made games for game players. I have no Horror stories from working here... only Honor stories. Through both praise and critiques alike, our goal was always to make a product as if we, ourselves, were the end-user. We may have gotten pushed and pulled in certain directions by forces out of our control, we were always in it to make games for game players. And that's what we did. I can only hope that those spared from the other companies remain employed long into the future. There is not much worse than false hope, and these people deserve to continue making great games. You may not know their names, but they exist, and they bleed, sweat, and cry for your entertainment. I mean that honestly, with no negativity. They do it... no, WE do it... because we want you to have a good time. In closing, I can only say thank you to the fans of Vigil games. Your support means more than you can imagine. Your feedback (both positive and negative) gave us long-lasting insight that we will all take with us, wherever we may go. You are the reason we made Darksiders 1 &2... and you are the reason we will continue to make games. And with that... my seat is empty. Ben CuretonLead Combat DesignerVigil Games P.S. This is no place for a horse.
Farewell from Vigil photo
Posted farewell letter on NeoGAF
THQ has cleared its plate and sold off all its assets... well... not all of them. For some reason, not one company placed a bid for Darksiders developer Vigil Games, dooming the young studio. Vigil's lead combat designer Ben ...

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Four upcoming THQ games revealed amidst bankruptcy woes


:(
Dec 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Sad news today as THQ has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filing, which is available for you to read, included several unannounced projects by various THQ studios. Note that these are more than likely internal...
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This Darksiders II 'Death & Despair' statue is turbo-boss


I want this a lot!
Dec 06
// Jim Sterling
It seems the Darksiders series is fated to not get the recognition it deserves, but at least THQ still believes in it enough to pimp out some cool merchandise -- like this newly revealed "Death & Despair" statue from SOTA...
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Joe Mad leaves Vigil Games


Don't get mad
Oct 22
// Chris Carter
Joe Madureira, better known as "Joe Mad", creative director of the Darksiders franchise (among many other bodies of work), announced via Twitter last night that he's leaving Vigil Games. Joe goes into a bit more detail on his...
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Darksiders II 'Argul's Tomb' DLC detailed, dated


Sep 19
// Jordan Devore
More Darksiders II? I've hardly scratched the surface of this deceptively huge title! Vigil Games will be releasing Argul's Tomb as paid downloadable content on Tuesday, September 25 for Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 in Nor...
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Darksiders II sells 247,000 in North America at launch


Humble start for Vigil Games' superb sequel
Sep 09
// Jim Sterling
Darksiders II managed to sell 247,000 copies in North America during its launch week, despite being pretty decently marketed and damn fantastic. Analyst Michael Pachter has estimated global sales at around a million.  Th...
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Weird Metacritic user reviews tear Darksiders II to bits


Sleeping Dogs and Dark Souls PC also attacked
Sep 01
// Jim Sterling
[Update 3: A Russian speaking friend of mine went through the site and believes it to be a highly detailed troll. The cult is dedicated to keeping alive the memory of an old Soviet actor from the 50s, who they openly ac...

Giving credit where credit is due: A developer's plea

Aug 21 // Andy Modrovich
And now here we are again, only this time the issue is the game industry's crediting practices. Seeing the heated reaction to Xander Davis' story convinced me it's not that no one cares about this issue, it's simply that few outside the industry really know much about it. Consider this my small attempt to help change that.I started in the industry as an entry-level programmer in 2000, straight out of college. Since then I've worked for several different studios and shipped a number of games. After a couple of cross-country moves, I eventually settled in Austin, Texas in the summer of 2005. I joined Vigil Games partway through development on the original Darksiders and ended up working there as a senior gameplay programmer for about three years. After helping ship Darksiders, I went on to work on Darksiders II for about 14 months before I left the company for a different studio. My time did not overlap with Xander's, and therefore I cannot speak to any of his allegations. In any case, I believe all the drama surrounding his account of his time there, and what did or did not happen, is a distraction. It only serves to obscure the larger issue, one where the facts are beyond dispute: that quite a lot of people worked for quite a long time on a game and were not credited. I am one of them.For what it's worth, this is hardly a problem that's unique to Vigil; in fact, it's depressingly common. The issue of crediting (or the lack thereof) is almost as old as the game industry itself. It was, famously, Atari's refusal to credit its developers that drove the creator of the landmark Atari 2600 game Adventure to write the first-ever video game Easter egg in 1979 -- a hidden room with "Created by Warren Robinett" displayed in the middle. Well, I guess that's one way to solve the problem: write your own credits. I wish I could say we've come a long way in the past 30 years, but it was just last year that some former members of Team Bondi felt strongly enough about their lack of proper crediting on L.A. Noire that they launched a website with their own version of the game's credits. Warren would be proud. After 12 years in the game industry, I've come to believe there are almost as many policies toward crediting as there are game studios. Since we have no trade union like Hollywood does, there are literally no rules whatsoever about who ends up in a credits file and who doesn't. Some companies have very liberal policies, where anyone who works on the project for even one day gets at least a special thanks.  At others, you do not make it into the credits at all unless you are there on the day the game ships, regardless of how long you worked on the game. Vigil's policy was more case-by-case.  From what I saw on Darksiders 1, if you left under unpleasant circumstances, you would likely be dropped from the credits, while if you parted on amicable terms, you might still be kept in. In what I consider to be the most disturbing part of his public statement, David Adams implies that it's perfectly okay to leave out anyone who left the company for any reason besides a mass layoff. I don't know how many rank-and-file game developers would agree with that.These types of policies, together with the growing tendency to include a huge number of people who had (at best) a tangential role in the making of the game, lead to situations where (and I'm not exaggerating here) the accountants, PR people, lawyers, and sales staff at the corporate office end up in the credits while key production employees do not.  I witnessed a situation at one company where one of our top artists was cut out of the credits for a game, despite having worked on it from the very beginning all the way to the end. After we had locked our content in preparation for submission (meaning the artists were literally forbidden from making any further changes to their work) he announced he was leaving the studio for another opportunity.  The day after his announcement, his title was stripped and his name was moved all the way to the Special Thanks section at the very end of the credits file. After the endless parade of corporate brand managers and marketing executives, after the HR people at the outsourcing studios, after the voice-over talent for the French localization. He did what you're supposed to do: he did quality work and saw the game through to completion. Yet because he left before the game discs were actually pressed, he was essentially erased from the credits. So what's behind all this? Why does a studio remove someone from a game's credits, and why do developers put up with it? Most importantly, why do credits matter?I don't have a good answer to the first question, considering it costs the studio nothing -- literally nothing -- to keep a name in the credits file. In light of the ad-hoc nature of so many companies' crediting policies, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that many of them simply haven't thought very hard about the why. Among those that can give a coherent explanation, I imagine they'd say that keeping departed employees in the credits isn't fair to the devs that stuck it out all the way through the (typically nightmarish) end of the project, with all its attendant late nights and stress. This might be a valid argument for crediting those employees differently (e.g., "Additional Design" instead of just "Design"), but not for removing them entirely.  Another reason, which studios are less likely to vocalize, is that de-crediting people the minute they leave provides a good incentive for them to stay through to the very end of the project. However, I suspect that at too many places, the real answer comes down to a simple desire to punish. It's really the only legal way studio executives have to get back at an employee they feel has "wronged" them or put the project in a tough spot by leaving early. Yes, it's petty and unprofessional, but human nature is what it is.As for why we all just suck it up and accept these minor injustices, to some extent it's the same reason we accept the major injustices of perpetual crunch and exploitative working conditions: fear of retaliation. No one wants to be branded a troublemaker or a malcontent. People are scared of losing their jobs.  They have children and mortgages. Even in the very best of times, the tremendous volatility of the game industry means that nobody's job is truly "safe" for any length of time. And brother, it ain't the best of times. So why risk complaining? Nor, it must be said, is it the case that all developers actually care about credits. There's a fair chunk of the workforce that doesn't see how it matters who makes it into the credits for a given game. After all, there are no residuals or royalties or copyrights tied to them as there are in other industries. They know they worked on that game, their friends and family know they worked on it, and most importantly, everybody else in the industry knows they worked on it. Or at least, can easily verify that they did. We all know that when it's time to look for another job, the recruiter we end up talking to is going to be able to call up a friend of a friend who worked with us at Defunct Company X and find out everything they need to know. The industry is small like that, a byproduct of the continual churn of hirings and layoffs and cross-country moves and re-hirings. When no one in the industry is more than two degrees of Kevin Bacon away from anyone else, who needs a credits file?But the fact is that credits do matter. Because while a game is still relatively recent, it may be easy to find somebody who remembers that you worked on it. But when the game becomes 10, 20, 30 years old? The studio itself may be long since dead and its records lost, and finding people who can reliably confirm your contribution may become difficult or impossible. And the converse situation may be even worse.  If there's no definitive way to tell if someone worked on a particular game, what's to stop an unscrupulous person from padding their resume with old games they never so much as touched? Modern game studios, especially the ones that produce AAA games, employ dozens or even hundreds of people. That plus the constant trickle of arrivals and departures means that before long, no one's memory will be reliable. Hell, I can't even remember the names of people I worked with just a few years ago. In a very real way, our history as game developers is slowly disappearing, one game at a time.But beyond any of the practical concerns, or the high-minded talk of posterity, the best reason to insist on proper crediting is simple human decency, respect, and love of the truth. There's been a lot of back-and-forth about what kind of a guy Xander Davis is and how good his work was, and whether he therefore "deserves" to be credited for Darksiders II. This debate misses the point entirely. Because it doesn't matter whether you're a nice guy or a jerk, or whether your work is good or bad, or whether you quit or got laid off or were fired for cause. You put in work on a game, you belong in the credits, period.  The credits file is not a record of who's a Swell Dude, or whose contributions were super awesome. It is a record of who worked on the game, and the management of a studio should not be in the business of deciding whether anyone's contribution was "good enough" to merit their inclusion, or whether they left the company for an "acceptable" reason. So where do we go from here? How do we make things better? Again, I wish I had a good answer for that. The only thing that will fix the crediting issue once and for all is unionization, but for reasons I don't fully understand a lot of folks in the game industry are hostile to the idea. Failing that, we may simply have to do our best to foster a consensus -- within the industry and without -- that arbitrarily denying people their recognition is unacceptable. Public awareness and social pressure can work wonders; just ask the employees now receiving overtime pay as a result of the EA Spouse incident.Whatever we decide to do and however we go about it, we owe it to ourselves not to let this issue get stuffed back in the closet with the other game industry skeletons. The Way Things Are is wrong, and the time for quietly accepting it is over. If you'd like to reach Andy, you can send him an email at [email protected]  [image]
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Last week, a Darksiders II developer posted comments on Twitter about being left out of the credits despite working on the game. Some joined his side, some ridiculed his outburst, but most ignored the issue altogether. Does t...

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Missing features might be added to Darksiders II on PC


Aug 17
// Jordan Devore
Last night, curiosity got the better of me and I nabbed Darksiders II on Steam. How is the PC version? Well, it ran, and I was able to change the resolution -- but that's about it, frankly. Sadly, it sounds like some players ...
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Darksiders II crossing over with Metalocalypse on Friday


Aug 15
// Jim Sterling
The popular Adult Swim cartoon Metalocalypse will feature a crossover collaboration with Death from Darksiders II this coming Friday. Now that's totally #darksiders2. The spot will air during the Metalocalypse marathon this F...

Darksiders devs speak out on not being credited (Update)

Aug 15 // Allistair Pinsof
UPDATE 2: Here's an email I received from a game designer who worked at Vigil on Darksiders 1 & 2. He requested his name not be posted for the time being. My name's pretty obvious by my email - it's [redacted]. I am one of the uncredited folks (of which there are a lot) from Vigil Games that worked on Darksiders 2. In fact, you can find me in the credits of Darksiders 1. I worked on the sequel for over two years, and yes, it is disheartening to not be included in something that we worked so hard on. While Xander is rightfully upset, his anger is misguided. I worked directly with Herb on several occasions, and he's a great guy that would never have screwed over a fellow developer by swooping in & stealing someone's job. This is a small industry, and lets not taint the reputation of the individual because someone felt the need to lash out in anger. He was on contract by choice, and I dont' know what the circumstances are that led to him receiving the title & position that he did in the end - I left Vigil on my own accord in late November.  I just want to point out that singling out a fellow employee is wrong under any circumstances, especially when it was so obviously the work of the head of the studio (David Adams). I would appreciate not being named in any publications on this matter unless someone sends a list of all those affected by this decision. That person won't be me since I don't want to drag my friends into this mess unwittingly. There are things that needed to be cleared up though. UPDATE 1: We got in touch with Vigil Games general manager David Adams. Here's what he had to say about Xander Davis and his allegations [full email at bottom of post]: When we were forced to reduce staff due to the cancellation of a project, we worked hard to ensure every single person effected by the layoff received their credit in the game.  We did not include individuals whose employment terminated for any other reason, for example, being let go for documented poor performance.To reiterate, Vigil’s primary concern while doing Darksiders II credits was that we credited team members that were affected by the recent downsizing.   We were not focused on the issue of employees that voluntarily left or were fired from the company.  We find it alarming that a former employee would personally attack and lie about other team members while falsely inflating his contribution to the game. ORIGINAL STORY: "If I hadn't said anything, nobody would've even noticed.  Who reads credits anyway? No one. I know it probably doesn't even matter. But you know, what? I read them. It matters," Davis said. "After the hell that I went through, after giving Vigil everything and more, like so many others, after doing my job and doing it well and leading with no support, in record time... once I saw the credits, I simply couldn't stand to let that pass." After a couple years doing UI design for High Moon Studios' Transformers: War for Cybertron and working on Xaviant's Lichdom, Davis finally found a promising gig in Austin. "In October, I interviewed at Vigil. They wanted to get someone out there as fast as possible because their UI was in a state of emergency," Davis said. "I thought this was great! 'They really like me!' But no, they were just desperate to solve their problem and anyone would do." Before Davis started work, the Darksiders II's UI was led by one person who was barely managed by the studio, he said. The job lasted a lot shorter than he expected: four months. The hours were a lot longer too. Though he was working for a studio he respected with Joe Madureira, a comic book artist he admired, Davis was not thrilled. He was tasked with recreating the UI system in 30 days, which he did. He led a team of three people, redesigned 27 screens, and made a new HUD. This was all done in 30 days, after which the game had 30 days to ship (before delays). So the developer changed the focus to adding new features, according to Davis. He wasn't pleased with this decision. ["It's like -- how the fuck are you going to QA that & ensure it's good!?"] "Let's say it'd be pretty crazy with 30 days left to ship to revamp gameplay UI with a team of three people. That'd be crazy at any studio. Despite completely revamping the UI, that wasn't good enough," Davis said. "Vigil kept pushing harder." Davis worked until 2 AM every night in January. He was the only person left in the building. One night he fell asleep at his desk, woke up, and worked another 14-hour day on the weekend. Davis was fired. The UI work was passed to another guy who threatened to quit, until it eventually landed in the hands of a developer whose contract was going to expire in a month, Davis said. He expected this person to overhaul everything he did since he took Davis' title of UI lead. "Vigil had mass layoffs in March. Entire UI team was laid off. Credible source says they kept one on via retainer who was chummy w/ owners," Davis posted on Twitter. "I was let go a month after DMO changed, they merged the other UI team, & Herb Ellwood swooped in & stole my job. After all my hard work. Herb Ellwood only had a contract with THQ. He used the team merging (which we needed to make ship) to secure a salary. Mine." Upon seeing the retail product, Davis said that the UI is 90% derivative of his work. Yet, he has no title in the credits at all. "It's no surprise to anyone, especially people that work at Vigil. They'll tell you a lot of craziness went down," Davis said. "It's sometimes a nightmare. It's common that this happens a lot in the game industry." He added that the layoffs at Vigil continued as he looked for a job within and outside Austin. In response, Davis is focusing his efforts on building his own game studio, Astrogun, while he does UI work on End of Nations. He is using his newfound freedom to create a soon-to-be-announced Ouya title. "Triple-A studios have put me through some very dark times and I'm wondering why does triple-A talent have to put up with it now with UDK, Unity, and more platforms than ever. Why does anyone need to work in triple-A anymore?" Davis said. "I think as we go forward into the next generation, game dev talent will get sick of getting screwed over and being relocated from state to state. Why? When you can go do it yourself." Davis said several of his friends and ex-Vigil employees have posted on Facebook about not being in the credits as well. I have reached out to Vigil and THQ for response. If you too have worked on Darksiders II and have not received a credit, leave your story below or contact me at [email protected] Here's Vigil Games General Manager David Adams' response in its entirety: After ending yesterday with the successful launch of Darksiders II, we at Vigil Games woke up to get word of a former employee’s statements regarding how his contributions were not being accounted for in the credits of the game.  What was most disheartening about the statements was how misleading they were, and how they fly in the face of how Vigil, culturally, feels about and treats our teams.While employment and privacy laws preclude us from discussing the circumstances surrounding the departure of any individual no longer with the company, we can confirm that the employee in question worked for us a total of 90 days, whereas Darksiders II was more than 2 ½ years in development.  When we were forced to reduce staff due to the cancellation of a project, we worked hard to ensure every single person effected by the layoff received their credit in the game.  We did not include individuals whose employment terminated for any other reason, for example, being let go for documented poor performance.We believe we treat both current and former positive contributors to our studio like family, and any statements otherwise are highly inaccurate and can be verified as same.  We would ask any press who wish to report on this former employee's statements to check the accuracy of these erroneous claims, before printing them as factual. To reiterate, Vigil’s primary concern while doing Darksiders II credits was that we credited team members that were affected by the recent downsizing.   We were not focused on the issue of employees that voluntarily left or were fired from the company.  We find it alarming that a former employee would personally attack and lie about other team members while falsely inflating his contribution to the game.We thank, once again, all those who positively contributed to Darksiders II.
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[Update: In addition to a response from Vigil Games' general manager, I received an email from an ex-Vigil employee who worked on game for 2+ years but did not receive credit. He says he's not the only one. Updates are after ...

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We reviewed Darksiders II, Sleeping Dogs, and Last Story!


Aug 14
// Jim Sterling
With gamescom kicking off its onslaught of news, the Destructoid frontpage has been alight with posts today. In fact, it's been so busy that you might have managed to miss three pretty big reviews. We reviewed Sleeping Dogs, ...

Review: Darksiders II

Aug 14 // Jim Sterling
Darksiders II (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed], Wii U)Developer: Vigil GamesPublisher: THQReleased: August 14, 2012 (PC, PS3, 360) / Late 2012 (Wii U)MSRP: $59.99 Darksiders II puts players in the bony boots of Death, a Horseman of the Apocalypse on an ironic quest to bring the slain back to life. His journey starts just after War has been tricked into obliterating mankind, and Death believes that if he can resurrect humanity, he'll clear his brother's name. Along the way, he encounters Corruption, a malevolent force intent on obliterating all existence, and thus finds himself with more urgent matters than his own brother's fate -- not that he cares. Though Death is no less grim than his brother, he is an altogether more enjoyable protagonist, possessed as he is of a caustic wit and an affable disregard for anybody who isn't a member of his family. As always, the weird and wonderful world of Darksiders is brought to life with a host of eccentric and overzealous characters, a fantastical set of locations, and some gorgeous designs courtesy of artist Joe Madureira. Much of Darksiders II will be familiar to fans of War's bloody journey, but make no mistake, this is quite a different experience. While Darksiders was an action game with heavy Zelda influences, its sequel comes close to being a full-blown action role-playing game along the lines of Diablo or Torchlight. There are still many Zelda influences -- items that open up new paths, dungeons with tiered levels, key chests, and hidden maps -- but the package is altogether less shameless this time around, with a greater focus placed on environmental challenges and puzzles that make heavy use of acrobatics, levers, and even a little time travel. [embed]232695:44617[/embed] While none of these puzzles are especially fresh to the action genre -- we've all spent time standing on pressure pads to open gates -- the inventive level design helps them be among the best examples you could hope to see. There are some ingenious puzzles that make use of Death's growing array of gadgets, whether he's throwing bombs at crystallized rock, creating duplicates of himself, or jumping into Aperture Science-inspired portals. None of the mechanics are new, but the implementations are wholly refined. Dungeons are set out with a keen sense of logic, and the challenges within are taxing without ever coming off as contrived. Likewise, Death's movement around the world is full of the same wall-running, ledge clambering, hook-grappling acrobatics we've seen in titles like Uncharted or Prince of Persia, but the elegance and speed with which the Horseman navigates his surroundings creates a fluidity quite unlike that seen with other clambering heroes -- all while demanding quick wit on the part of the player. At times, this fluidity is a little overbearing, as Death's animations feel too "floaty" and unpredictable to cope with some of the more demanding, time-limited areas. A number of times, Death needs to move through a series of environmental obstacles at a pace too quick for his often laggy responses, as Vigil placed too much emphasis on animation over utility. However, these irregular occasions are more than made up for by the many moments the system works successfully -- and looks gorgeous doing so. Combat is where most similarities with the original Darksiders can be found, though Death's respective litheness makes him feel less meaty and far more agile than War ever was. Button-mashing combos, a heavy emphasis on dodging, and a range of increasingly brutal special skills make for a combat system that balances grace and brutality in equal measure. Death's weapon of choice is a pair of scythes, which will always serve as his primary armaments, though he can equip a secondary weapon from a range that includes maces, hammers, glaives, claws, and more. Scythes and secondary weapons can be used in conjunction to create more effective combos, and Death possesses a power gauge that, when full, allows him to assume the spectral form of the Grim Reaper himself, cutting into foes with deadly strength and enhanced resistance. As Death gains experience and rises in level, he can unlock and upgrade abilities from two skill trees. Such abilities include the power to close distances with a teleporting slash, summon demonic minions, or send a murder of crows to steal health. Each power starts off relatively weak, but adding and strengthening each one with subsequent skill points can lead to possession of some utterly vicious playthings. If one ever grows bored of them, the demonic merchant Vulgrim is on hand to reset your points and allow you to start over. Darksiders II's combat system works best in smaller engagements against a moderate selection of foes. Since it's based on counterattacks, being able to concentrate on opponents is paramount, but it has to be said that Vigil sometimes relies too much on undermining this to create a sense of challenge. A fair number of fights, particularly toward the latter portions of the game, swamp the screen with monsters, many of which can power through your attacks in order to break combos. Some of the best battles are one-on-one engagements where timing is of the essence, so these larger, chaotic fights really aren't needed and can be a little infuriating at times. Things are kept interesting with the all-new loot system. Enemies now dispense vast quantities of gold, as well as pauldrons, greaves, vambraces, and weapons. Darksiders II does a solid job of providing more powerful gear at the right intervals, offering enough incentive to keep one hunting for fresh loot. There are also a whole bunch of extra statistics alongside the regular damage/defense boosts, allowing Death to improve his special attacks, increase the chance to perform execution kills, and enjoy a health regen. Possessed weapons are manually upgraded by "feeding" other loot items to them, and each level gained provides a variety of upgrade choices, allowing for tailor-made and significantly powerful armaments. Naturally, merchants are peppered throughout the world, happy to sell new items and buy your unwanted trash. While not strictly open-world, the four realms that Death gradually uncovers can be freely traveled and are vast enough to provide secrets, hidden items, and side quests. Death traverses the game's realms by summoning his ethereal horse, Despair, though there are enough fast travel points to get around the map without much equestrian help. A number of the optional missions rely too heavily on tiresome collection quests, but there are some satisfyingly challenging tasks involving full-fledged dungeons and powerful boss creatures. All told, the main game should take around 20 hours to beat, with plenty of content left unfinished. There's also a "new game plus" mode, a survival-based challenge called the Crucible, and an unlockable "Nightmare" mode that features permanent death. For the hardcore Darksiders fan, there is a ton of stuff to uncover, ranging from the banal to the engrossing. The sheer wealth of content on offer makes the original Darksiders look like an appetizer -- still incredibly enjoyable in its own way, but a morsel in comparison to the main entree. Some of the optional quests feel like time wasters, but the main meat of the game features very little fluff -- even if the "perform three tasks to unlock the real objective" formula is played a few times too many. While predictably structured, the adventure is never boring, and as Death slices his way through progressively more aggressive and bizarre creatures, there's a tremendous sense of build. Sadly, the actual ending is a bit brief and unsatisfying, but it's a fantastic ride to that point. For a vast majority of the time, Darksiders II is a fantastic experience -- highly polished, tightly scripted, and boasting enough moments of exhilaration to make up for the frustrating points. While mostly a high quality experience, an entire section that takes place on apocalyptic Earth seems quite glitchy, with sounds not playing and dialog skipping. It's a comparatively small section of the game and will likely be patched, but it's worth noting that right now the Earth section is a little busted. Still, the rest of the experience is remarkably well put together, with none of the screen-tearing found in the previous game and no other bugs encountered during my playthrough. I wouldn't want to say that Darksiders II is better than Darksiders. Both games are different beasts and provide separate experiences. It's rare to see a sequel retain so much flavor while totally restructuring itself, but Vigil Games knocked it out of the park with aplomb. Neither game is superior, both are enjoyable in different ways, and together they weave one fantastic tale. Those new to the series certainly don't need to know too much to get into it, but existing fans will be able to enjoy the universe in a whole new perspective. As far as I'm concerned, Darksiders II is a great example of a sequel done absolutely right. There are certainly complaints to be had with the title. The latter half feels like it's over a bit too quickly, I'd have loved to have seen more exploration of Death as a protagonist, and I feel that the series' trademark macabre characters needed more of a spotlight. However, with a game that already provides so much, these things feel more like desired garnish rather than missing components. This is one of those games that you can really sink your teeth into, a game that feels full, making you want more without feeling like you need more. Darksiders II takes the best elements from many games and blends them into a seamless, wholly satisfying package. With a unique protagonist, killer art style, savvy level design, and ferocious combat, there's little left for an action fan to want, while the role-playing elements have been enhanced to such a degree that the overall experience feels deeper and more compelling than before. If this game is not a success, then truly the world doesn't know what's good for it.
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a great example of a sequel done absolutely right
Every now and then, a game comes along that seems to have the right stuff -- it's got an unforgettable visual style, a quality studio, a respectable marketing budget, and the kind of gameplay that should go over damn well wit...

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THQ sends literal death threat to celebrate Darksiders II


Aug 09
// Jim Sterling
No sooner had I put the finishing touches on the upcoming review for Darksiders II than this ... thing arrived. I would like you all to serve as witnesses in the event of my disappearance, because I am fairly certain this can...
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Final Darksiders II trailer gets to know Death


Aug 07
// Jim Sterling
THQ has released the last gameplay trailer for Darksiders II before its launch next week. The video, titled "Know Death," is narrated by the skull-masked misery-guts himself, as Death provides his perspective on the latest D...
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Darksiders II has New Game Plus, survival mode


Aug 07
// Jim Sterling
Vigil Games is keen on keeping you playing Darksiders II beyond the main game, and has two tricks up its sleeve to extend your investment. Beating the game unlocks a New Game + mode, which allows you to carry over Death's equ...
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THQ cobbled together an extra Darksiders II Collector's Edition from bits and pieces of the dead, allowing Destructoid to show you what it looks like a little bit. I unbox it with a really inconvenient camera angle because t...

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Latest Darksiders II trailer is all emotional and stuff


Aug 03
// Brett Zeidler
The top YouTube comment for this video says, "Man, that girl from Dead Island ends up on all the worst vacations." That got me. The newest CG trailer for Darksiders II isn't exactly pulling a Dead Island, but its simila...
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Darksiders II gets its first full gameplay trailer


Jul 25
// Jim Sterling
After ten billion years of pre-rendered videos and developer diaries, Darksiders II gets its first all-gameplay trailer featuring nothing but footage from the software itself. It only took until less than a month before laun...
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Vigil discusses the near-limitless loot of Darksiders II


Jul 19
// Jim Sterling
I'm a sucker for loot. Who doesn't like loot? Bad people don't like loot. The addition of boundless gear in Darksiders II is one of the aspects I'm most excited about, and I love that Vigil's committed to putting a lot more ...
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Darksiders II: Death's Door digital comic now on sale


Jul 06
// Jim Sterling
Darksiders II: Death's Door is now available to purchase exclusively from Dark Horse's digital store. The first issue will set you back $0.99, and can be obtained for both iOS and Android devices.  "Death’s mission...
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After being turned away from the booth of a publisher that shall remain unnamed, I bumped into a cadre of developers from Vigil Studios who were more than happy to shelter me for an hour. After making my way to THQ's super se...


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