Darksiders has had a pretty shaky development history over the years. Every single entry has seen a wildly different path in how they came together, down to the latest game that took nearly a decade to get off the ground, and didn’t really turn out that good. Out of the three games that are currently out, with a fourth in the works, my favorite has got to be Darksiders II, which introduced the loot grind to the franchise, keeping the best parts of the original, like the exploration and combat, which turned out to be pretty darn good back in 2012.
Before getting bunched up and turned into THQ Nordic, Nordic put out the *sigh* “Deathinitive” version of Darksiders II in 2015 for PC and consoles, and with their current brand hot on the idea of putting out all of the franchises they bought over the years to the Switch, it’s not surprising to see it make it to Nintendo’s handheld four years later. Unlike Darksiders Warmastered Edition, however, Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition is somewhat of an inferior version of what was released on other consoles due to some technical oversights that are pretty baffling.
Darksiders II picks up after the events of the first game, with another of the four horsemen picking up the mantle of protagonist, with Death riding in to try and help save his brother War from the wrath of the Charred Council, who is more than keen on pinning the blame for the calamity of humanity on him. There’s a slight chance that he could be spared if Death can somehow revive the humans by exploring the frigid wastes that hide the all powerful tree of life, so ironically enough the Grim Reaper is out to help folks come back to life in this game.
The big new feature that was added to this entry was the inclusion of loot that evolves as you progress through the game, coming in in a variety of rarity colors, something that was really big at the time and still kinda is in gaming, all things considered. Gameplay-wise, this game plays a lot like the first one, and in terms of combat, you’re pretty much doing the same camera lock-on strafing that you did before, with the benefit of controlling a much nimbler character with a whole different set of moves that rely on Death’s scythe and whatever weapon he might be equipped with as a secondary. As expected, there’s a pretty big skill tree to unlock abilities in, and since it splits into a couple of different paths, it can potentially take you quite a while to unlock everything, which is pretty cool, since his powers vary wildly between these branches.
Thanks to these differences, Darksiders II turned out to be my favorite out of the three games for sure, even though the story doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the original’s. That and the fact that I had to endure a cliffhanger for years thanks to its inconclusive ending, which let’s face it, didn’t really pay off even with Darksiders III coming out last year. Still, as a whole package, the gameplay far outweighs my woes with how Vigil handled the story beats, and even today it plays really well, making it a good game to blast through in case you find yourself out of action adventures to pick from.
Unfortunately, all’s not rosey when it comes to this Switch port. The original release of Darksiders II wasn’t really up to snuff when it was out back in 2012, thanks to its extremely buggy performance that prevented me to 100%ing then. The Deathinitive Edition smoothed things over three years later, providing a more polished version of the game. Upon testing this Switch port, I also booted up and played through a bit of the Steam PC version of the game that was given out as a made good for owners of the first run for comparison. The difference between these is quite stark, with the Switch version coming in as the far inferior one in terms of visual and gameplay performance.
As was mentioned before, the remastered version of the first Darksiders gave you way more options to tweak in comparison to Darksiders II Deathinitive Edition. You are able to pick from two different modes during gameplay, performance and visuals, which elevated one and tuned down the other, keeping a decent frame rate regardless of what setting you happened to pick. Deathinitive Edition unfortunately lacks that option, to the detriment of both departments. The Switch version runs especially choppy, and looks quite blurry. Zoomed in moments during gameplay where Death is talking to someone can be quite crisp looking and fine, but every other point while playing gets quite harsh on the eyes, independently of which mode you are playing your Switch in.
That’s a real shame because I can’t see a better way to play Darksiders II than on the go. It’s a really good title to pick up and play in short sessions, and the saving feature is fantastic for that. Granted, even Darksiders Warmastered Edition sported some compromises on the Switch, but it didn’t go this far tuning down visuals and performance in the same way as its sequel’s remaster does it. Here’s hoping that THQ Nordic is working on a patch for the game, but as it stands, this port is by far the inferior option to play Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition, and the portability of the Switch doesn’t make up for these issues whatsoever.