Other items of gear War comes into possession of, such as a grappling hook and portal gun, each serve a significant purpose in the game, and often grant you access to previously inaccessible locations in the game world. Combined with some Prince of Persia-like platforming, the latter puzzles are truly memorable and will test your usage of the tools acquired up to that point. In many ways, the game feels more accomplished as an adventure game than it does as a frenetic hack 'n' slash, with War's mountable phantom horse Ruin giving the game yet another piece of the classic Zelda pie.
As in Zelda, the game is partially open-world, but features a number of massive locations that serve as dungeons, each delivering a big reward upon completion. There's a considerable amount of backtracking at times, which is common in games of this type, but might not be what you're expecting if you thought Darksiders was another formulaic hack 'n' slash. Gladly you can quick travel between the main areas in the game world using serpent holes, opened once you complete the game's first big quest, saving you considerable time.
Vulgrim, a monster who serves as the demon version of Resident Evil 4's trader, pops up at set posts around the world, offering rewards for special artefacts and selling new weapons, moves and Wrath powers in exchange for collected souls - the game's currency, released from all defeated enemies and found in special chests. As and when you come across them, weapon enhancements can be applied to each weapon, granting such bonuses as increased damage, extra souls harvested, accelerated weapon experience and more. You're able to customise War to suit your play-style, whether it be enhancing your weapons to earn extra souls and therefore the ability to buy new items and abilities, or going for the more brute force approach, sacrificing some extra souls in favour of being able to take down enemies more easily.
Post-apocalyptic worlds are rarely beautiful, but Vigil Games has managed just that with Darksiders. Yes, the world has been torn apart, but the impressive use of colour throughout (you'll see more than shades of grey and brown here), the vast landscapes, giant enemies and general sense of scale makes for one of the most striking looking games of this generation. It's not as whiz-bang as some other current-gen offerings, at times appearing a little dated, but its style is unquestionably superb.
There's sadly a fair amount of frame rate trouble and some screen tearing, which hurts the presentation somewhat, and War as a character pales in comparison to Hamill's Watcher and the mega demons you encounter, but on the whole it's hard not to be sucked into the game world. Everything is accompanied by a brilliant musical score that conveys the sense of inter-realm war perfectly, being both epic and doom-heavy, and the voice acting is uniformly excellent.
Darksiders deserves attention. As a new franchise it does so many things right and should find a place for itself in a massively crowded market. If War was a more engaging character and the combat more refined, Darksiders would stand as one of the early contenders for game of the year. Even so, it's a highly entertaining, 15 hour plus adventure, with some gorgeous visuals, devilish puzzles and exciting action. Fingers crossed the no doubt planned sequel will build on this very impressive debut.