Vigil Games’ Darksiders II was a sequel that just got everything right. The crisp combat established in the first game was improved, the writing displayed a much more defined personality and the once-basic character customization became much deeper and more addictive. It’s one of the finest titles this year, and with so many different skill and equipment variations available to the player, it begs to be played multiple times.
Getting a player to jump right back into a game after the credits roll is no easy task, though. The New Game Plus feature helps reel fans in again, but new content is what people really need to step back into the shoes of Death. Yet, Darksiders II’s first piece of DLC, “Argul’s Tomb,” won’t exactly wow fans of the core game. Fresh puzzles and massive boss battles spice up this 90-minute addition, but there’s nothing in particular about this pair of dungeons that hasn’t been done before. There’s fun to be had, but “Argul’s Tomb” feels like an inconsequential add-on that doesn’t expand on any aspect of what came on the disc.
Instead of being found in the open-world of the campaign, “Argul’s Tomb” is an all-new location easily accessed from the main menu. Your main man and Horseman of choice, Death, quickly encounters the game’s merchant, Ostagoth, as you enter the icy tomb location. Death is told a tale about the fate of a side-quest character named the Disposed King, who was once a true force of terror. While he was previously defeated by the Lord of Bones, the King’s dangerous power still lingers. If Death can seek it out and shut it down, a shiny reward will be waiting for him.
To receive Ostagoth’s trinket, two dungeons and a shooting sequence must be conquered. There’s no hub world to explore or stretch of land to hop on your horse and gallop across – simply a narrow walkway with branching paths. The puzzle-filled dungeons aren’t quite as expansive as what you’ve come to expect, though. Hordes of enemies and a few thought-provoking riddles will keep you mostly entertained until the final creature emerges, but don’t be surprised if you complete either section in 30 minutes or less.
Little can be called “new” within the ice-encrusted tomb, either. It’s still entertaining to use portals to reach objectives, push heavy boxes over switches and claw your way across walls, but there’s nothing challenging or different enough in the moment-to-moment action to test all the skills you’ve gained through the campaign. Sure, new players who haven’t heard Death’s entire story or learned all his techniques also have the option of accessing this nugget of content, but the welcomed complexity that Darksiders II maintained from location to location is absent here. The sequences drag and it’s hard to not feel like you’re just going through the motions.
A tad more success is found when Death picks up a massive, mechanical weapon filled with explosive rounds. Enemy after enemy barrels at you with little hope for success, and while there’s still no significant challenge presented here, it’s plain fun to watch the monsters burst into bits. The loot and statistical aspects that make the majority of the game so compelling get thrown out the window in this scenario as well, and the only real “puzzle” you’ll encounter is deciding which limb to shoot in order to produce the coolest explosion. Yet, it’s dumb, simple fun that’s sure to produce a few smiles.
A few moments of entertainment is about all you’ll get out of “Argul’s Tomb.” This $6.99 (560 Microsoft Points) piece of DLC isn’t broken or offensive, but nothing about it feels necessary. Anyone who purchased the limited edition of Darksiders II will receive this content for free, and at that price, it’s worth seeing. Everyone else should approach with caution. With such a fun and massive single-player campaign just a button press away, it’s probably a better idea to follow my lead and start your third New Game Plus on a higher difficulty.
Darksiders II: Argul’s Tomb was developed by Vigil Games and published by THQ. An XBLA copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of review.