Darksiders was one of the most notable new IPs of this generation. A blend of Zelda character progression, God of War combat and a wonderfully dark and gothic setting helped players embrace it with open arms. Fast forward two years and it’s just a short time until the release of its anticipated sequel. With a change of protagonist and a new location there are plenty of questions that fans are dying to see answered. I was recently lucky enough to put a few of those questions to THQ Creative Manager Jeremy Greiner.
Greiner seemed happy to talk about anything, so I asked him how he felt about the original game being compared to Zelda. He said he was flattered that it was compared to such an illustrious series and he in no way took it as an insult. He felt that bringing Zelda puzzling and adventuring into a mature combat heavy arena was one of their biggest success stories with the original game. He did however go on to stress that Darksiders II had moved beyond that. The change of character and location had created a whole new experience. The core elements were still there but they had matured and evolved. Greiner was very confident that Darksiders 2 stood on its own as a great game and a benchmark for the genre.
As he had briefly mentioned the change of character, I pressed him a little further. I asked him how altering the lead influenced the game’s focus. Greiner described the decision as both a blessing and a curse. He said that in developing a sequel you could quite often recycle assets from the first game, but in this case there had been very little they could reuse. It was all created virtually from the ground up and while it was time consuming and frustrating it was also rewarding and challenging. The chance to explore this mythical environment in greater detail was a driving goal during development.
Moving on from the creation of the game, I asked Greiner about playing it. More specifically, did he still enjoy playing Darksiders II even after working on it for so long? The answer was strongly in the affirmative. He felt that making a game was pointless unless he enjoyed the end result. He went on to say that Darksiders II was so vast that had only seen about 80% of it, even though he had been playing the completed build for about two months. Greiner commented on how much enjoyment and pride he received from playing a game he worked on and even though he obviously knew its ins and outs, he still got excited when he unlocked a new ability or discovered a fresh location.
The original Darksiders featured an almost Metroid style system of discovering new abilities which in turn opened up new areas for exploration. Did the sequel continue in the same vein? Greiner was clearly excited to talk about this topic. He said that the world was roughly 95% available to the player without any new abilities. It seemed that Darksiders II was a much more open experience. While players who wandered into an area they weren’t supposed to be in would probably die very quickly, there was nothing stopping them from trying. He said the other 5% of the game involved areas that could only be accessed with certain abilities. These were there for the completionist, the type of player who just had to finish 100% of the game.
The original game had some very impressive voice work, most notably from voice acting specialist and lightsaber duellist Mark Hamill, so obviously I asked if Hamill had returned. Greiner replied in the negative, but to offset my disappointment he told me who had voiced the main character of DEATH. Michael Wincott, best known for his excellent work as a Hollywood bad guy in The Crow, Along Came a Spider and Robin Hood (not to mention his voice work in games like Halo 2 and Syndicate) lent his gravelly tones to the game. Wincott’s voice proved to be a perfect fit for a scythe wielding, skeletal horseman of the apocalypse. Greiner went on to say that other familiar voices would pop up in the game but he wasn’t at liberty to reveal them just yet.
That, unfortunately, was the end of my time with Greiner. After having a few of my questions answered and benefitting from some hands on time with the game, I can officially say I am excited. The level of enthusiasm Greiner demonstrated and the sense of pride he took in his work made it clear to me that the development team is keen to make Darksiders II the best experience possible.