Finally this gem gets to win one of these instead of just being the runner-up. Riddles mocks me for loving this title, which I find especially delicious because not only has he never played it, but he would love it.
Anyway, multiple people tried to draw my attention to this game before its release, but I shrugged it off. For whatever reason, the previews didn’t excite me. One might say I even had unbridled apathy for Darksiders.
To be honest, I don’t even know what possessed me to buy the game. Maybe it was some misguided attempt at spite. I’m capable of that. I mean, I bought and beat Bioshock secretly the moment Riddles gave up on trying to get me to play it. So perhaps it was the fact that I had told so many people that I wasn’t interested.
In any case, I’m very pleased with the end result. I was expecting a moderately fun title, and got an involved, epic, addicting, and attractive new IP. Perhaps the puzzles never got particularly difficult and the framerate could have been smoother after acquiring the horse, but the game as a whole surprised me greatly with its quality.
People who like to toss around “derivative” as an automatic negative mention the Zelda-style items and puzzles, the God of War combat and upgrades, and the portal gun to use as points against the game. But Darksiders uses these things so unabashedly, that it doesn’t make sense to me as an insult. Even forgetting the game is the “mature” Zelda that many of us have been waiting for since the Spaceworld 2000 demo turned into Wind Waker, it is still a game unlike any other regardless of its obvious influences.
Darksiders was the most pleasant gaming surprise for me in 2010, and I can’t wait for the sequel.
Also, here is a link to a relevant Penny Arcade comic I posted when the game first came out.
Runner up: Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light
This could have be in the running for number 1 if the second half of the game wasn’t just retreading your steps. But despite that massive disappointment, the game shocked me in its ability to be such a powerful throwback to the JRPGs that started the craze.
4 Heroes never holds your hand. If you don’t read the instruction booklet, you must explore the mechanics for yourself and rely on your critical thinking skill and the occasional tip from townsfolk to hone your strategy.
On that note, the game pleasantly emphasizes exploration as a necessity for progression. While there are scripted scenes, a full appreciation for the story and culture of each area only comes from talking to people.
The result is feeling engaged and challenged and responsible for how well you’re doing. As opposed to say, FFXIII, which just pushes you through a tunnel until after the game is complete when the thing finally becomes a game.
Anyway, this is rambling too long for a runner-up, but the game is good. Way better than I expected.