I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, but I love it when a fledgling games studio offers up their first big work for gamers to enjoy. I always hope to see the beginning of another big player’s career in the industry. Recently, we had the opportunity to enjoy that kind of speculation with Darksiders, the first offering from Vigil Games: a new studio founded by comic artist Joe Madureira and game designer David Adams.
I recently had a chance to interview Joe Madureira, and I learned that, apart from being a nice guy and a superb artist, he’s also as thoroughbred a gamer as you get — he actually owns more obscure consoles and games than I do. So, what happens when you have someone with this degree of enthusiasm as one of the creative leads behind a big-budget action adventure game? Darksiders, that’s what. Having sunk many, many hours into the game, I can safely say that it’s one of the most polished and engaging adventure games I’ve played since The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
The premise is quite interesting: War, as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, is bound by law to answer The Call — the signal to him and his brothers that it’s time to travel to Earth and punish the wicked. And this is exactly what he does — the only problem is that it turns out that there was no Call, and he ends up stuck in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell. To make matters worse, his bosses, the Charred Council, suspect him of treason and of aiding the forces of Hell in disrupting the balance. They sentence him to death. Adamant that he did hear the Call, and determined to prove his innocence, War convinces the Charred Council to let him return to Earth to seek evidence of foul play. If he succeeds, he will regain his place among the Horsemen. If he doesn’t… well, the minions of Hell will have carried out the Council’s sentence anyway.
The player’s goal is to guide War through his various trials and tribulations as he tries to find out what happened. At first, he wants to take the fight straight to the lord of Hell, The Destroyer, but is convinced that, in his weakened state, he’ll never even complete the journey. Following the Council’s advice, he strikes a bargain with a demon named Vulgrim, who has his own agenda and serves as the obligatory shopkeeper of the game, selling War new weapons, abilities and items. Vulgrim’s tip-offs lead War on a lengthy campaign to defeat key power-holders and strike bargains with other minions of Heaven and Hell, bringing him ever closer to finding out exactly what the Destroyer is up to.