The original Darksiders started slowly. What’s more, it took its time unfurling bits of gameplay. You’d be near the end of the game and it would basically say, “Wait, hold on a sec, I’ve still got this nifty gimmick to show you! It’s right out of Portal, but I saved it up until now. Here!” That these gimmicks were borrowed wasn’t the slightest bit troubling. I’ll take a game that knows how to borrow over a game that thinks innovation is inherently better any day. Darksiders II also takes its time getting good, although the borrowing doesn’t seem so obvious this time. In fact, Darksiders II feels a lot more like its own creature.
However, unless you veer a little from the main storyline, Darksiders II may take longer than intended to get good. I was plowing through it, just hitting the waypoints for the main storyline, ignoring the side quests — that blacksmith can get his own dang hammer and who cares about all these collectibles? — and making pretty good time. I was mostly unimpressed, but content enough. But then I got sort of stuck and decided to explore. At which point I realized all those glowing blue stones I’d been seeing were for something I’d skipped because I didn’t talk to someone by the side of the road. And those tokens I could spend with Vulgrim are actually useful. And when you go out of your way to figure out how to reach that chest, you have a lot more treasure to feed your possessed weapons, which are suddenly a lot more useful. And it’s a pretty trivial matter to get enough money to learn all the combat moves. Darksiders II gets really good once you stop playing to finish it.
However, even if you do just follow the main storyline, even if you are just making a beeline to the end, Darksiders II gets good once you come to the Eternal Throne. If you’re not sold at this point, which is fairly early in the second world, you’re probably never going to be a Darksiders II fan. The basic concept of the Eternal Throne — which I’ll let you discover — has been done in a few different games, but this bit of Darksiders II is an epic fantasy set piece at its best. Leave it to the developers at Vigil Games to take their time wowing me.