THQ Nordic may just be the gaming industry’s greatest necromancer. For years they have been scooping up properties from defunct studios and bankrupt publishers and breathing new life into them. Their latest release is a Nintendo Switch port of Darksiders: Warmastered Edition, the first in a series of hack and slash adventure games.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition Details
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Action, adventure
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Packing a punch
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is a demon-slaying hack and slash title that sets players free to really wallop their enemies. You’ll play as War—one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The task is to seek the Destroyer in the Black Tower, whilst annihilating hoards of demons all along the way.
Joe Madureira of 1990’s X-Men fame is the creative director on the original game, and his influence really shows. Just like his signature comic book style, characters in Darksiders: Warmastered Edition sport impossibly broad shoulders and gargantuan limbs bursting with muscle. And they wield appropriately enormous swords and weapons to boot.
These visual elements perfectly match the power fantasy of strength and melee satisfaction that is Darksiders: Warmastered Edition‘s bread and butter. The combat mechanics are actually quite decent for a nearly decade-old game. It still feels great to plow through waves of enemies with a comically large broadsword and a host of supernatural abilities.
Puzzle it out
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition’s narrative is sufficient to move the action along, but isn’t particularly engaging in and of itself. Essentially the forces of evil are framing War for bringing about the apocalypse prematurely. Therefore he must clear his involvement and uncover the true culprits.
The plot is full of convenient MacGuffins that keep War moving from task to task. Nevertheless, although it doesn’t stand out on its own, the story certainly serves its greater purpose. It keeps the enemies flowing, the blades swinging, and the body parts flying.
While there’s a lot of potential in the lore, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition doesn’t really dig that deep. (Luckily for those sticking with the franchise, the game’s eventual sequel actually does a much better job). Nevertheless, it facilitates the on-point action.
Between all out brawls War also has to solve a few puzzles to progress as well. One might say that Darksiders: Warmastered Edition roots itself in God of War style melee combat. Yet it also adds an element of problem-solving in its dungeons that gives a Zelda-like flavour to the variety in gameplay.
Under the hood Darksiders: Warmastered Edition for Nintendo Switch still can’t compete with the most powerful console versions available. Nevertheless it does an admirable job with the hardware it has at its disposal. Unlike the earlier Wii U version, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is more than just a straight-up port.
The improvements in resolution and frame rate are definitely noticeable when the Switch is docked, and even in handheld mode the game runs quite smoothly without compromising too much aesthetic polish. I had fully braced myself for some significant frame drops or screen tearing while playing on my daily commute. I’m happy to report however that Darksiders: Warmastered Edition really performed well on the go with no persistent visual abnormalities.
Unfortunately even with a healthy boost to graphical fidelity, Darksiders: Warmastered Edition still suffers a bit from its age. In particular, the environments themselves are really prone to repetition, and in comparison to today’s standards are ultimately drab and unexciting. Even a new coat of paint makes it difficult not to compare some of the dated aesthetics and designs that just don’t cut the mustard when held up to other, newer titles vying for your time and money.
In spite of some of the difficulties in being an older title fighting against a decade of innovation, one thing that does still hold up well enough is Darksiders: Warmastered Edition’s character development and RPG-style mechanics.
In combat you’ll collect souls which can be spent unlocking all manner of extra powers and weapons. Uncovering ancient relics hidden throughout the world can also assist in upgrading and unlocking new ways to deal damage.
Obtaining new skills, upgrades and abilities adds another layer to the desire to progress in Darksiders: Warmastered Edition that is a bit lacking from narrative alone. It also allows for greater customization and specialization in your loadout. This creates the ability to really tailor War to your specific strengths and style of play.
Again, this variety is ultimately important to Darksiders: Warmastered Edition as it counters some of the game’s more repetitive elements. Hack and slash titles can be prone to this when you consider how difficult it is to provide a healthy variety of enemy types to supplement the large amount of combat scenarios necessary to make a full length game. Whereas environments and enemies can get mired in repetition, players can more easily stretch out the fun by acquiring and experimenting with different combinations of powers and armaments.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is a good port of a satisfying hack and slash adventure that runs well on Switch
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition holds up particularly well for a nearly 10 year old game. This is a challenging prospect for a combat heavy adventure title, since that genre is one whose mechanics are usually at the forefront of improvement and innovation. While certain genres (puzzle games for example) have it easier when it comes to aging, it’s very difficult for a 3rd person combat adventure game to hold up to the ravages of time.
That isn’t to say that Darksiders: Warmastered Edition doesn’t have its issues. The story is a bit hokey and its environments are a product of the limitations of its time. But it runs respectably well on Nintendo Switch—even in handheld mode. Furthermore, the bone-crunching combat still satisfies, and ultimately makes the game very playable even by today’s standards.
+ Satisfying melee combat
+ Lots of upgrades, powers, and abilities to play around with
+ Fun combination of combat and puzzle-solving
– Lackluster story
– Repetitive environments
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF DARKSIDERS: WARMASTERED EDITION
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5