Top 100 Games of All-Time: #61


Release Date: January 5, 2010

Platform Played On: XBox 360

2018 Placement: #52 (-9)


What It Is:

At first glance, Darksiders is a gritty, dark, washed out action game where you play as War, a dour Horseman of the Apocalypse. If you only look at the surface of it, it really encompasses the tendencies of the late 2000s/early 2010s to make everything gritty and grimdark. But underneath the exterior is a well-developed, fun adventure that follows the Legend of Zelda format of multiple dungeons where you get new abilities that help you navigate that dungeon and the expansive rest of the world.

War is a fun, but perhaps a little straight-laced, protagonist who is framed for kicking off the apocalypse a little too early. After being imprisoned for a century, he is given a chance to clear his name and returns to Earth while being watched by the Joker, er, I mean, the Watcher who is voiced by Mark Hamill. The plot ramps up and gets actually intriguing as War goes through the forces of both Heaven and Hell to figure out who is responsible for setting him up.

Why It’s Important To Me:

I was initially hesitant to get into Darksiders because I’m a huge “fan” of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as a concept. And in this game they rename two of the four horsemen Fury and Strife because they didn’t think Pestilence/Conquest and Famine would fit well in an action game. I turned up my nose at this for a long while, but after people starting saying how good the game actually was and how it executed the Zelda formula really well I decided to dip my toe into it.

And I’m glad I did because Darksiders is a fantastic action game and I love what they do with the horsemen in this universe. It helped me realize how much I love the standard Zelda formula as well, as seeing it being put to use in a different setting was really, really refreshing. I figured out it wasn’t the actual format that was stale, it was just the setting of it being Hyrule every time that wore me down. They also play with the grimdark aspect of the aesthetic and it doesn’t bring the game down in any way. I liked this game so much it was the first game I ever got 1000/1000 achievement score on my 360.

My Strongest Memory:

The strongest, best example of this game coming out in late 2000s/early 2010s and being peak 2010 in its identity is that the last dungeon’s item is…a portal gun. It doesn’t even try to hide it – right down to the portals it creates being orange and blue, it’s a shameless ripoff/homage/whatever you want to call it.

The dungeon is still fun, although it lasts a little long. But it is definitely the thing I remember the most about the game because of how flabbergasted I was in its inclusion. Because it’s the final dungeon of the game, it’s almost like the developers went “hey, Portal’s gotten really popular let’s add a portal dungeon here at the end of the game but don’t really do anything else with it in the rest of the world. It’ll be a hit!” That’s probably not exactly what happened, but it definitely feels like it!

Why It’s #61:

Darksiders is proof that other games can apply story and use the Zelda game format and be successful. Unfortunately the Darksiders license is tied up with THQ Nordic (a company I don’t like due to them hosting an interview on a horrible website) and each sequel has strayed further and further from the Zelda format. Still, the first is an absolutely wonderful game worth playing through even if there’s been three games since and they still haven’t addressed the cliffhanger in this one’s ending. NO I’M NOT BITTER.