By Chris Matel

Can the end of the world be fun?...

Imagining the Apocalypse may be a frightening fantasy, but it certainly makes for good fiction. From comics to film, the end of the world has seen some interesting interpretationsóthe Simpson's envisioning may be among my personal favorite. Vigil Games has their own version of the Apocalypse, but in their story, even the damned have social issues.

Instead of using a mere mortal to deal with the demons who made the earth their playground, Darksiders tells the story of War, one of the Four Horsemen, who is caught between the two biblical forces of heaven and hell. We didn't learn the ins-and-outs of the story, but the basic idea revolves around War battling anything and everything to regain his status as one of the generals of hell's army.

Like GTA, but with enemies from hell...

Most akin to the God of War series in terms of gameplay, Darksiders uses a mix of open-world exploration and puzzle-filled dungeons. Instead of playing linearly, finding equipment to become stronger and open up the next set of corridors, we were told you would be able to go where you wanted in the over-world, when you wanted; of course, early on in the game you'll find it nigh impossible to make it very far.

We were shown, and played, a few sections of the game which highlighted various mechanics of combat, solving puzzles and riding demon horses. Vigil is touting a slightly different take on dungeon, action-adventure play. Instead of continually collecting items to use whenever, each cathedral, lava-filled cavern and dingy prison has its own theme whereby the items you find will work specifically for the level.

Hack, hack, slash...

The combat we experienced was fairly basic: heavy and light attacks, and a throwable weapon. We took the controller from the developers at the event to take on a few sections of the game. As things turned out, fighting a giant worm with a Gatling gun, while riding Ruin, your horse that appears from an ash of flames upon command, is a little more difficult that one would think.

After a few deaths from both us and the creators of the game, we got a look at a mini-boss battle with a grotesque demon. The art design is certainly one of the game's strongest features. In showcasing the interaction between baddiesólarger enemies will hurt smaller minions, a definite plus for any who are annoyed by game design where NPCs take no friendly damageówe had a chance to see a fairly unique looking character. A small demon inside of a birdcage-like enclosure piloted a larger entity with glowing spots amongst it bulbous disfigurement. Any guess as to why there might be three strategically glowing yellow points on your enemy? To weaken it of course, silly. Like the boomerang from the Zelda games, after selecting the three points, War hurled a smaller blade, hitting them in succession, exposing the weaker demon within for a quick kill.

Countdown to the Apocalypse...

A single-player only experience, Darksiders is set for an early '09 launch. From what was said above, the art direction is something out of a comic book with strong contrasts between dark blacks and vibrant colors. Although not much looks novel to the dungeon-based, hack-and-slash gameplay, it may be interesting to see how this one turns out. For now, we look forward to hearing more about the game in the coming months.