Reading many reviews, it is easy to type cast Darksiders as a Zelda and God of War hybrid. Well I am here to tell you that for the most part, it is. I also want to clarify that it is not a bad thing. In many ways, they out “Zelda-ed” Zelda. Adding in the more intensive combat is a large change to that style of game. I think many games get written off for using ideas from other games. Silent Hill is a Resident Evil clone gameplay wise, but its atmosphere and story was so good that it was not criticized for it. The real problem is when companies do not use more these types of games well. No one complained that Okami was like Zelda because of its lush world and interesting paint brush abilities. Army of Two did not out “Gears” Gears of War. So many gamers trashed it. It did not control as well and the world was not as defined; it just felt soulless in a lot of ways. It is easy to forgive the developers whom love show though their homage. Banjo-Kazooie was very much Mario 64, but it was its own beast as well.
Market saturation is a huge element as well. When there were dozens of Mario 64 style platformers for the Nintendo 64 people began to tire with the collect-a-thon style of gameplay. Banjo-Tooie, Rayman 2, Rocket: Robot on Wheels, and Donkey Kong 64 are all good games but they clogged the market. It peaked with Mario Sunshine on GameCube which tried to take that 3-D platforming style to its limits. Unfortunately for Nintendo, bigger levels and more things to collects does not make that genre particularly more fun. It does however make it more frustrating. For this reason, Super Mario Galaxy took the genre in more of an interesting and accessible direction.
Grand Theft Auto 3 gave birth to abundance of open world games that we see today. Some developers took the idea and ran without others just tried to copy Grand Theft Auto’s success. Hulk’s Ultimate Destruction made the open world a playground. Since this is what more people did in Grand Theft Auto anyway, the game was great. Driver 3 (sorry Driv3r) tried to make the series more Grand Theft like and lost the charm of just driving that the first game had. Mafia took the open world and made it more structured, but the mission still felt like GTA. Then it avalanched making many people resented the Grand Theft Auto style.
These examples are meant to show that copying a gameplay style almost completely can work, but only if it is released early in that trend of games. You just have to make the world and story your own. Otherwise you have to make some kind of innovation however minor it might be. Darksiders maybe Zelda, but it is Zelda with much more satisfying combat. Surprising, Darksiders also benefits from the fact that there just are not many games that copy Zelda except Zelda. Many people wanted them to make more of a change to the series and Darksiders made that change. I am really enjoying Darksiders, and it is too early to say but maybe more than Twilight Princess.
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