Death rides again, but not to reap the souls of the dead. This time it is to save his brother War, who doomed all humanity to dust. The Charred Council has given Death a single task to complete and they will forgive War's transgressions. He must restore humanity to Earth. This will not be an easy task, but it is one that he has accepted. So begins the journey to save War.
The journey starts out as most do, with a quest for information. First, Death must know how to save humanity and for that purpose he goes to the Crow Father. After some convincing he is told that he must find the Tree of Life. The tree will have the secrets to restoring humanity. With this information Death is sent to another world where the tree is in sight, but unreachable due to Corruption (yes, it gets to be a proper noun). This is where the game starts to take on more of its RPG roots. The people here send Death on a quest to remove the Corruption. At first he rejects it, but since it is the only way for him to get where he needs to go he, grudgingly accepts this and future quests. This is one thing I really liked about Death. He does appreciate being asked to do things that don't directly benefit him and he makes this known. Long story short he finally reaches the Tree of Life and learns what everyone means by the Tree starts journeys; it does not end them.
Darksiders 2 is a much more expansive than its previous installment. This is explicitly shown in how you can customize Death. As you explore areas and kill foes, you will find gear to improve yourself with. This gives your Death a more personal customization compared to your friends' Death. They also brought back the "God of Warish" attacks where you purchase different moves based on a combination of 2 different buttons (square and triangle for PS3), from training vendors scattered across the worlds. The developers also kept the Zelda dungeon aspect. In fact, if you follow the main quest you will move very quickly from dungeon to dungeon, often without realizing it. Each one does have a purpose, but you only get a special weapon every 3 or 4 dungeons. This makes a new ability or item feel special.
In Darksiders 2, Death also has access to a set of skill trees. There are two trees each with its own flavor; the Harbinger (melee) tree and the Necromancy (caster/summoner) tree. Each tree has a few abilities and modifiers that enhance those abilities. What is really nice is that you can mix and match the abilities at different levels. As long as Death is a high enough level to take the skill and you have enough points, you can take the skill. As an example, early on in the Harbinger tree, you can take teleport slash, followed by Murder (a group of crows, not the act), a skill that's about half way down the Necromancy tree, without spending any other points in that tree. This allows for you to create a very unique play style. And if you don't like your choices old Vulgrim has the ability to let you respec. The mix of all these aspects allows for you to play this game how you deem is best fit for you.
Brute Force vs Agility
If you played the first game you found that War was very much in the face of his foe. Sure he could dodge, but he did not have to. Death on the other hand is not made of such stern stuff. He is an agile fighter. Getting in and out of combat quickly by doing quick jabs of damage then dodging to avoid damage. Death also has an ultimate form like War, but it is not nearly as overpowering as War's form. Since it isn't as powerful though, saving it for a boss fight will not ensure the outright end the fight. You'll take a decent chunk of health from the boss, but you will still have a fight on your hands. Death is also much better at traversing the landscape then his brother was. He is not as good as Ezio from Assassin's Creed is, but he does ok. The acrobatics though comes with some issues. The controls when traversing walls can be a little inaccurate at times. This was very obvious in one specific section where you had to race up a wall with a floor of fiery debris chasing you. If you made even one mistake you would fail, and that happened way more times than I'd like to admit.
A Reason to Ride
The entire reason that Death is on this mission, as said many times over, is to save his brother, War. That is not all that you'll face through the game. Fairly early on you find out that Death helped kill all his people, the Nephilim. He then trapped their souls in a pendent and gave it to the Crow Father. When the pendent broke in an early cinematic it was embedded in Death's chest, and EVERYONE he meets reminds him of this past act, an act he commited to maintain the balance. I guess as you play through you will find out what comes of this. Some of it seems a little contrived, but the game play makes up for it. I do like the fact that, at times, Death is extremely reluctant to take on a quest. This is especially true with side quests that do not help him bring back humanity to save War. You will know what I mean when he is asked to find a plate.
And that brings us to the end of the review. The game is good. The RPG aspects of the game are very much welcome. They give the game an open feeling that many of the great games have right now. If you have a chance I highly advise that you get a copy of this.