Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

I don’t think there’s anyone out there who hasn’t played or at least heard of Darksiders by now. Each game in the franchise sees you playing as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as you work your way through an action-packed demon-riddled Earth via a combination of popular genres. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is the 2016 remastered version of the original game, complete with updated textures, optimisations, and improved graphical settings. 

As Darksiders is technically a nine-year-old game now, three years if you’re only going off the remaster, how does it hold up against modern titles? Since it’s original release we’ve had two other main games and a remaster of the second game – is it still a good game to play or do we recommend you pick up one of the others instead? Let’s find out.

darksiders 1

This guy is very dodgy – I don’t trust him!

Darksiders‘ story is all about death, war, betrayal, and revenge. Mankind was placed between Heaven and Hell not by chance, but in order to create a barrier between the two forces so that their eternal war would come to an end. As such, seven seals were placed upon the Earth which, when broken, would call forth the Four Horsemen and initiate the Endwar – basically Judgment day where Demons and Angels will once again rise up and exterminate everything.

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This peace treaty was put in place by the Charred Council, those who also appointed the Four Horsemen to do their bidding and keep order at the time of their calling. However, until they are called for, the Horsemen should never interfere with Human affairs or try and get involved with things that aren’t related to them.

This is where War comes in. War finds himself on Earth whilst the Demons and Angels are causing havoc and killing anything that moves. War discovers that the seventh seal hasn’t even been broken, thus providing no reason for him being there – this leads to a fight which he cannot win by himself (as the other Horsemen weren’t called). The Council steps in at the last moment and ‘saves’ War in the afterlife, stripping him of his powers. Presuming the Apocolypse is his fault, War is placed on trial and blamed for the events going on down below. Determined he is innocent, War agrees to be assigned a ‘watcher’ as he returns to Earth in order to seek out those responsible and cast vengeance against them.

So, War is sent back down after a century has passed when Humankind has been wiped out and the Angels are now stranded in this realm as resistance fighters. After gathering intel off the survivors and uncovering the location of the remaining Demons, it’s up to you to eliminate this threat and prove your innocence to the Council.

darksiders 2

The combat is very satisfying, especially when you string together combos.

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Gameplay
Darksiders is a really fun exploration-based hack-and-slash game with a hint of RPG and puzzles thrown into the mix as well. Think of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – that game had a main central area with a number of smaller open areas branching off it, each with their own dungeons, weapons, items, and secrets to find. Darksiders follows a very similar pattern as you have a central hub area which leads to new areas once you have the correct weapons and tools to progress through them – a bit like a Metroidvania game.

However, unlike Zelda, the first Darksiders game focuses more on its combat and action than puzzles and platforming. Although don’t get me wrong, the game has plenty of simple puzzles and some platforming segments within the dungeons, but it’s not as heavy with them as Darksiders II. Darksiders is all about its satisfying combat and combos.

Upon returning back to Earth, War is equipped with a single weapon, his trusty Chaoseater sword. Before too long, you’ll also have in your possession Death’s scythe, known as the Harvester, a cannon-like weapon known as Redemption, and the Tremor Gauntlet. This is where the gameplay started to remind me of Devil May Cry 5 as each of the face buttons maps to different weapons (for the most part), so you can begin to pull off some rather impressive combos.

darksiders 3

Level up, enhancements, passive skills, swappable accessories… there’s a lot to help you slaughter the demons!

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In addition to the various weaponry you obtain, you’ll also acquire Mercy, War’s gun, and the Crossblade, which is like a multi-pronged boomerang. Even if you just sit there and bash the controller with your face (something I don’t recommend), you’ll be pulling off some rather satisfying and impressive combos as you swap between the arsenal on offer during the heat of battle. There’s even the option to fully transform into your Chaos Form via pressing L and ZR once you have filled up the power meter, this will transform you into an almost immortal fire beast as you mindlessly slaughter anything that moves!

I mentioned above that there is a hint of RPG mechanics within Darksiders, I think that’s a bit of an understatement. Looking through the menus, there’s an overwhelming amount of customisations and upgrades to obtain for both yourself and your weapons. Not only do your weapons level up and become much stronger, but you can also attach certain enhancements to them and obtain various passive abilities which will be active throughout your playthrough. These passive abilities may be as simple as allowing you to block by dodging or granting you access to the fast travel system, but it further enhances the gameplay and experience you’ll have. 

darksiders castle

Looks like it’s come right out of Zelda!

Each new dungeon (distinct areas) you enter, you’ll be faced against new foes, new secrets to find, new enemies to crush, and a new rather elaborate and creative boss to take down at the end. The developers really love their bosses and seeing just how grotesque and creepy they can be. I can honestly see why they opted for a more Souls-like combat style in Darksiders III (before they changed it) as some of them look like they’ve come right out of a FromSoftware game! However, Darksiders offers a really smooth and perfect control scheme, even though it’s mainly hack-and-slash, where you can learn the enemy movements and adapt accordingly. 

There is one segment where I really didn’t like the controls though, the flying segment. There’s a part in the game where you’re flying through the sky as you shoot down angels with lock-on projectiles. This part of the game left a bad taste in my mouth as it was really hard for some reason. The controls felt too sensitive, despite them being perfect up until now, and I lost numerous times until I turned the sensitivity right down in the options. I’m not quite sure why that particular area felt bad to control, but since then, everything has felt perfect.

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darksiders 4

Lots of options I wish other games have! Also, a few post-processing options as well.

Switch Version
I’ve not had a Nintendo Switch for long, just a few months now, and most of the games I’ve played have been new titles which are either Switch only or launching around the same time as the same game on other platforms. This was my first ‘port’ of a game which had come out a few years earlier on other consoles. As such, I was very, very impressed with the quality and performance within Darksiders. First of all, if you wish to play the game at 30fps then it’s 1080p when docked and 720p when in handheld mode. However, if you wish to play it at an almost locked 60fps (which you should), then it’s 810p when docked and 540p when in handheld mode. 

Numbers aside, how does this actually stack up to actually playing it – the visual difference, with the drop in resolution, is very noticeable. Not only does the gameplay drop in resolution, but the actual HUD and text elements do as well – which is unusual. However, the trade-off for an almost locked 60fps is well worth it in my opinion as the gameplay is much smoother and the game feels perfect whilst playing it. Now, if you do favour resolution and you want the game to run at the highest native pixel count then that mode works great as well, with a solid 30fps framerate, but switching between the two you can easily see that the 30fps mode feels ‘jerky’ in comparison. 

Also, those out there wondering about visual quality, not just raw pixel counts, the assets and overall visual quality is almost identical to the Xbox One and PS4 remasters from 2016, only with a lower texture filtering and a slight knock on the shadows and the brightness (which is strange). Considering I’ve played this game briefly on the PC, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS4 and now the Switch, Clearly the PC and PS4 are the best versions, but the Switch delivers a great version for both home and away gameplay with the brilliant inclusion of a quality or performance option done right.

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I’ll be honest, I’ve never played Darksiders all the way through until I received it on the Switch. I’ve always started it and then stopped after a few hours on each of the previous platforms I’ve owned it on. However, I was almost addicted to the Switch version as I could play it when I was out and then pick it back up when I got home – the convenience of having it with me everywhere really helped me become invested into the game and want to put more time into it. It also helped that I’d just finished Devil May Cry 5 on the PS4, so I was looking for something similar to play to fill the void I had after coming to an end of that story.

I’m hoping that Darksiders sells well and THQ Nordic brings Darksiders II: The DEATHinitive edition to the Switch as well, as that game I have played a lot of in the past as it’s one of my favourite last-gen titles. I doubt we’ll see Darksiders III on the console, due to how it currently performs on the much beefier systems, but you never know!

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is the perfect example of how to port a game over to the less-powerful Nintendo Switch. Giving the players the option of if they prefer the resolution or the framerate, and actually having some noticeable differences, was the best decision the developers could have had. Instead of opting for fancy gimmicks or trying to convert the game to utilise the motion controls or touch screen, the game is a perfect 1:1 recreation of the 2016 remaster which was released on other consoles, only with the added benefit of taking it with you whenever and wherever you want.

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If you’re new to the Darksiders franchise, and you own a Switch, then I can’t recommend Darksiders: Warmastered Edition enough. It’s a great port with a solid framerate via acceptable resolutions in both handheld and docked mode. If you still feel a little sour after playing the game on last-gen hardware, or the Wii U, don’t be – This may just be one of my favourite Switch games so far this year!

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition

£26.99
9

Final Score

9.0/10

The Good:

  • - Brilliant port to the Switch, solid 30 or 60fps at the expense of resolution
  • - Great action-adventure game combined with hack-and-slash mechanics and a strong emphasis on exploration
  • - Interesting story which nicely links into both the Darksiders games which follow it
  • - Lots of upgrades and weapons to collect as you reclaim your title as a Badass

The Bad:

  • - The price is a bit steep for a remaster of a nine year old game
  • - The controls during the flying segment were terrible
  • - 60fps is great, but some people may not be happy with the sacrifice in resolution (see image above)
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