War! (Huh!) What is he good for? According to THQ’s new developer Vigil, he’s good for solving puzzles, riding his rather large horse and showering in gallons and gallons of demon blood. Designed by Marvel’s Uncanny Xmen artist Joe Madureira, War is one quarter of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, charged with judging the Kingdoms of Heaven, Hell and Man when Armageddon occurs. Which is immediately!
Having battled since the beginning of time, the forces of Heaven and Hell agreed a truce, and created seven seals. Man was born, and the forces behind the universe saw power in him, and decided the Kingdom of Man would play an important part in the final reckoning. As agents of balance working for the Charred Council, the Horsemen serve as executioners on judgement day. War is called to Earth as the Legions of Heaven and Hell battle each other and wipe humanity out. Fighting one of the Destroyer’s chosen, Straga, War is crushed and is called before the Charred Council. Blamed for starting Armageddon before the Seventh Seal was broken, War is bailed and allowed to return to Earth to prove himself innocent, accompanied and guided by the Watcher (voiced by Mark Hamill) on behalf of the Council.
It’s a rather complicated plot (which only really comes together towards the end of the game) but it’s as good an excuse as any to send a sword-wielding, giant agent of destruction to post-apocalypse Earth and have him rip demons limb from limb. Darksiders features a gallon count of blood spilled in one menu, so it’s no surprise War has many different ways to execute his enemies.
Combat is solid, but for the first hour or so I thought Darksiders was a simple comic-inspired God-of-War style hack ’n’ slash. However, Vigil have also taken a huge dose of inspiration from a far less bloodthirsty influence in the Zelda games. Fighting is the order of the day for much of the adventure, but the devilish puzzle and exploration sections found in Darksiders are easily as rewarding as crushing a zombie in one hand until he pops.