Darksiders II: The Demon Lord Belial DLC for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
Another month, another disappointing Darksiders II DLC pack. I’ve never regretted a Season Pass purchase so much before, but I suppose it’s done now so I’ll play it through to the bitter end. Darksiders II was one of my favourite games of 2012, so it’s a real shame to see it reduced to this, an experience even more lacking than the unimpressive Argul’s Tomb and Abyssal Forge DLC packs which came before it.
The Demon Lord Belial returns us to Earth, an odd choice as the Earth section was by far the worst part about the main game. Certainly, little is done to distinguish this part of Earth visually from the part we saw in the main game, and is quite clearly made with reused assets with very little new going into this. I’m not opposed to using Earth as the setting in the Darksiders series, the first Darksiders game used it to great effect, but these derelict streets are entirely unengaging, lacking the stark and stylistic beauty seen in areas such as the Forge Lands and Lostlight.
Death is summoned to Earth by Uriel and her angels due to the sighting of supposedly extinct humans stirring in the wreckage. Death sets out in search of them and finds one survivor, a man known only as Hunter, who has unfortunately made a deal with the eponymous Demon Lord Belial.
The narrative actually points towards some interesting places in this DLC, which couldn’t have been said for the first two. I’m one of those people who actually likes the schlocky silliness of the Darksiders series plot; it’s almost like the videogame equivalent of a B Movie. The fact that all the humans are dead isn’t really engaged with in this series; why should the angels, demons and nephilim which populate the Darksiders setting care about a race as meagre as humans? I liked that this DLC actually looked into this, but it sadly doesn’t do so in a particularly interesting way, mostly due to not having nearly enough time to breath and tell a decent story. It’s not impossible to tell a decent story in a short DLC; the recent Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3, for all its flaws, succeeded in telling an interesting story in a compressed space of time, but The Demon Lord Belial does not pull this off.
The Demon Lord Belial is a disappointing step backwards in the Darksiders II DLC, which is almost impressive as I didn’t think that there was much room further backwards to step. For all their brevity, what these DLCs did contain was generally fun and up to the standard of the main game. Here, Vigil barely even tried. There are no puzzles, seriously none, this is a straight forward hack and slash. At its best, Darksiders II’s dungeons could rival Zelda’s in their intricacy, but you wouldn’t know it to look at The Demon Lord Belial, in which Death hacks his way relentlessly through a horde of demons without a need to engage the brain even once. This is one of the laziest DLCs I’ve ever played, far from a labour of love but a cynical attempt to fulfil their Season Pass obligations in the laziest way possible.
This DLC has the worst production values of the lot as well, containing weak character design and none of the stylistic flair that Argul’s Tomb and Abyssal Forge sometimes showed. With the exception of some rather brutal new execution animations for Death, there was nothing in the presentation The Demon Lord Belial which impressed me.
The basic mechanics of Darksiders II are so solid that, despite the huge number of flaws, The Demon Lord Belial isn’t an un-fun experience, but it’s far too short, probably less than an hour for most players. Vigil have delivered possibly one of the worst series of DLC packages I’ve ever seen; I’d almost rather have ‘Horse Armour’ than this, at least that wasn’t masquerading as something worthwhile. If you, like me, naively purchased a Season Pass, this is worth an hour of your time, but it is not worth buying separately and I encourage you not to do so.