For this topic I decided to choose a game that will have a sequel coming out for it soon and a game I desperately wanted to like the first version of but couldnít, Darksiders. Iím going to do my best to avoid echoing zero punctuationís review of the game but some similarities are bound to come up.
The core idea at the heart of this game is a great one. When my friend first told me about the game he described it as a hybrid of god of war and legend of Zelda staring one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. How could I not be excited for this? It had the makings of a great game and possible game of the year for me based off the concept alone. The problems this game had though were that the good idea was matched by a poor execution of its core mechanics of fighting, exploring, finding treasures, puzzle solving, and fighting huge bosses.
Iíll start with the fighting because this is ultimately what the success of the game would hinge on. You get a handful of weapons that you can use in the game but it never really means much. You are able to equip two weapons but that system is never utilized in any meaningful way. There are no attack combinations that use both weapons and other than sometimes preferring to engage enemies at range there really arenít any important choices to be made with the weapons as each one seems to function basically the same. Id improve on this by adding in attack combos that vary depending on which weapons you have equipped and I would make some weapons more effective against different types of enemies beyond the ranged/melee choice that already exists. This would give the combat some more variety giving a kinda god of war-ish feel to the game.
The exploring is where I had the most trouble with the game and the area that is most in need of improvement in its sequel. I canít say it any plainer than this, War walks way too slowly for a game world of this scale. You are placed in a big world in this game and war moves at a very noticeably slow pace. The mechanics they put in place to deal with this are either inadequate (the dash move) or are added in way too late in the game (the horse). Having to spam a dash move to traverse the overworld isnít fun and easily gets on peopleís nerves. The horse does alleviate this problem but you only get the horse around the 3rd or 4th dungeon so until then you are stuck moving very slowly. The fix for this is a no brainer, make the character run. Walking is unnecessary for anything other than a platformer or a stealth game where running makes more noise than walking.
The problem I have with the treasure hunting and puzzle solving kinda goes hand in hand so I will address these together. The problem with these is that none of the new items you find in the game are original ideas which leads to the inevitable problem of none of the puzzles those items are meant to solve being original either. The Legend of Zelda games are excellent games often they are game of the year candidates so I can understand wanting to duplicate their success but copying the game is the absolutely wrong way of doing that you are not going to out-Zelda Zelda nor will you out-portal portal. All you will ever do by copying a great game is reminding people that they arenít playing that awesome game and make them wish they were. This is the hardest part for me to suggest an improvement for but I would say to come in with items that we havenít already seen in other games which will lead to puzzles that feel different and give a more rewarding experience for finding them. They donít all have to be new and different but most should be
Finally comes the bosses and this is where I am going to sound somewhat like Yahtzee but the hardest boss in the game by a wide margin is one of the first ones you fight. That bat boss you fight in the first dungeon is the most frustrating experience in the entire game. That boss has at least two stages with no mid boss checkpoints and you have little more than the starting amount of health with which to fight this boss. This boss also requires some good timing and does a substantial amount of damage upon hitting you. I died more at this boss than I did at the rest of the game combined and therein lays the problem. I donít mind a difficult game but this game is not difficult, the rest of the game is pretty easy by comparison as the game is pretty generous with upgrades which leads to a really poorly laid out difficulty curve and a letdown after beating that first boss because the rest of them keel over pretty easily. The key to fixing this is to have the first boss be easy even for beginners and gradually increase the complexity of bosses as the game goes on.
Thankfully this is a game that actually is getting a sequel of its own on which to improve on its core mechanics and strong central ideas. I doubt we see everything I suggested but I would be shocked if they havenít already fixed some of those problems for Darksiders 2. This is a series that has a lot of potential to be a top seller but to realize that potential they just need to give the first game a bit of polishing up to make the minute to minute gameplay more exciting and fun.