To most, the game was a pleasant surprise with it's hack and slash action, and even though a lot of comparisons were drawn with other games of the same ilk, Vigil Games succeeded in giving us a highly enjoyable first chapter in this post-apocalyptic series.
With less than a year before the release of the next chapter, we got the opportunity to see how the developer had evolved the series when THQ and Vigil Games opened up their doors and showed Darksiders II to the press at this year's Gamescom.
This time around the story will be told through the eyes of a new character: Death, the brother of War, and also one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Death offers something new compared to the experience of the first game, a being that is much more agile and faster, letting him dodge attacks that had to be parried before. Personality-wise the change is also huge, Death having no qualms about using more extreme measures if they get him the results he needs.
The story plays out at the same time as War's in the first game, as Death tries his best to clear the name of his brother. That's not the easiest of missions, and Death has to travel through the underworld, making deals and slaying monsters for his own brand of justice.
By setting the game in the underworld the developer has been given a unique opportunity to give its vision of this hellish place, something that was noticeable from the very start of the demo.
In the first scene Death's mission was to board a gigantic ship that was being towed by two monstrous, dragon-like snakes. Mounted on top of his horse, Death rides along one of the snakes, while the camera zooms out and shows the immense scale of the scene.
When Death finally reaches his goal it is revealed to be the throne room of The Lord of the Bones. Before gaining an audience with the lord himself, his advisor demands that Death declare himself worthy by bringing him the head of one of the arena masters, which requires the acquisition of a rare artefact.
All this leads us to the first reveal of the game's fighting system, which comes about when Death is attacked by a roomful of skeletons. The pace has been greatly heightened, and the speed and agility of Death clearly makes him a different sort of combatant compared to his brother. He avoids attacks by throwing himself around, while destroying enemies with a combination of two swords and an enormous hammer.
When Death finally reaches the artefact, he discovers that it is being protected by a beetle-like monster, which gives the developer the opportunity to show of the skill they call The Ghost Hook. This hook can be used to pull yourself close to the monster, which allows Death to slash it to pieces. The hook can also be used to pull smaller creatures towards you, and is supposedly also useable in the exploration-part of the game.
With the monster defeated we skip forward to the arena, where the artefact is quickly used to set the next battle in motion. Seconds later a giant worm emerges from underground and a new battle commences, this one much harder and demanding than the last. When it finally looks like the worm is nearly defeated, it sucks up the nearby skeletons and tranforms itself into yet another monster, this time of the two-legged, skeletal-kind, which uses the rest of the worm as a living whip. Sadly, this all too brief moment sees the close of the demo.
Even though the demonstration we just received relied heavily on combat, we are assured that puzzles and exploration will be an essential part of the game once again in the sequel. Although we would much rather witness this ourselves, it looks like we will have to wait until June of next year, when Darksiders II launches worldwide.