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The Horseman cometh;
And. Heads. Will. Roll.

He's the biggest, most totally ripped barbarian to ever exist and he has a ten foot long sword which he uses to decapitate fools.

An Action Adventure game from Vigil Games and published by THQ, Darksiders (originally Darksiders: Wrath of War; the subtitle was dropped before the game was released) puts you in the role of War, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. When the Creator gave the land of Eden to Man, the outcast Nephilim were outraged and fought the Archangels. Only four Nephilim survived: Fury, Strife, Death and War. The Charred Council made them its agents charged with maintaining the Balance Between Good and Evil: the Four Horsemen. A truce was brokered between the Kingdoms of Heaven and Hell: seven seals were created to be broken when the Kingdom of Man was ready, sparking the End War where the Four Horsemen would ride across Earth, restore the Balance and forge the pact anew.

Skip ahead to the present day, where the Earth is being pelted by a meteor storm. Only it's not meteors, but demons. The Angels' Hellguard arrive to fight them and War appears in the middle of the battle. But the other Horsemen are not there and Abaddon, leader of the Hellguard, states that neither should War since the seals weren't broken. An incredibly powerful demon appears, kills Abaddon and nearly kills War as well.

War is hauled before the Charred Council, which accuses him of starting the End War early and siding with the demons. War claims he was only answering the summons of the seals, but the seals were still intact. In lieu of being executed for violating the balance, the Charred Council agrees to send War on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to hunt down those responsible, whether they be from Heaven or Hell.

A parallel sequel, Darksiders II, which features Death as the new playable Horseman, was released in 2012.

Tropes used in Darksiders include:

War: How long have I been gone?
The Watcher: In Earth years? About a century. Long enough for all the mouth breathers to die off.
War: Then...the Third Kingdom is lost...

  • All There in the Manual: The manual and comic books contain a lot of extra back-story not in the game.
  • Anachronism Stew: There are some cars and working human-made modern machines here and there; there are also huge fortresses of doom, deserts with sand worms in them, and a lot of weird stuff that is yet to be classified.
    • Justified Trope: War returns one hundred years after the apocalypse, and the earth is ruled by demons. It's only natural that they would build their own structures and such in their new world.
  • And Your Reward Is A Kickass Armor: When you amass the 10 fragments of the Abyssal Armor. It is also a a very awesome powerup. You get it quite late in the game, but you can start a new game with it after obtaining it.
  • Anti-Hero: War, full stop. Yeah, he pays lip service to the Balance, but Samael points out that he's really just in it for revenge against whoever is responsible for his disgrace.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 4, to the point where just about the only recognizable lifeforms are crows and spiders. And the spiders might not have survived at all but are just Silitha's children.
  • Artificial Limbs: According to the back story, War lost his left arm when he rebelled against the Charred Council and attempted to stab Fury, only for Death to step in the way (like that could stop Death) and Fury repaid the favor by removing the arm. Now War's got a really big metal arm in its place, not that he needs it to swing his BFS.
  • The Atoner: Azrael, who feels profound guilt for his part in starting the premature Endwar that crippled the forces of Heaven, lead to Abaddon's corruption, and the extinction of humanity. He helps out War in his quest to restore the Balance knowing full well that War will likely kill him for his transgressions after matters with the Destroyer have been resolved.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Most bosses have one that must be hit in order to stun it, then you can wail away.
  • Attack Reflector: Mentioned artificial left hand, which serves as buckler/gauntlet.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Mercy, a four-barrel demonic handcannon, is pretty much the weakest of your projectile weapons, even after getting the upgrades and equipping the appropriate skill boosters. The only thing it's really useful for is against the Ash-Worms (and crows).
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: The Charred Council and the Horsemen are charged with maintaining this.
  • Bag of Spilling: At the beginning of the game, War is already a powerful Horseman, but a horn is heard twice, first reducing his health to 4 extra bars, and then reducing it to 1.
  • Banned in China: This game was banned in the United Arab Emirates for "contradicting with the UAE's customs and traditions."
  • Big Bad: The Destroyer aka Abbadon
  • Big Applesauce: There are no explicit geographical markers, but it's also a city with a lot of overpasses, an extensive subway system (whose cars resemble the MTA), and absolutely enormous infrastructure that's located in America...so the list of cities it could be is fairly short.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Death's primary weapon is a pair of short scythes, which he can combine into a double-ended larger one as the combo requires.
  • Black Knight: You are one, at least in form.
    • Subverted, however, in War's overall behavior: he's far from a mindless killing machine, sparing people who either don't deserve to die or are genuinely repentant for their misdeeds, and seems genuinely mournful when he discovers all of humanity has been killed.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Ulthane.
  • Bottomless Pit: Post-apocalyptic Earth is riddled with these. Falling down most of them will cause you to lose some health and reappear nearby. Other pits will instantly kill you. The game doesn't tell you which ones. Have fun with that.
  • Bonus Boss: Wicked K, a zombie-like Wicked with a top-hat, a cane, and a British accent. He can block all of your attacks except for block counters. You can fight him up to four times, for a Soul reward.
  • BFS: Chaoseater, War's main weapon.
    • The Armageddon Blade is just as big, if not a little bigger. Abaddon's sword in the final boss fight is much longer than either of War's swords, though it's not as wide.
  • Boss Banter: Used all the time, as nearly all of them like to taunt you during the fight, sometimes to the point of annoyance.
  • Boss Subtitles: But not on all the bosses, interestingly. The Chosen and a couple of other opponents get them.
  • Camera Lock On
  • Catch Phrase: See page quote.
  • The Cavalry: The end of the game has War breaking the seventh seal and thus summoning what appears to be the other three horsemen. Uriel states that War doesn't stand a chance facing the Charred Council alone and War replies "Not Alone". As three meteors appear in the sky similar to the one War arrived on Earth in.
  • Colossus Climb: Straga is big enough that you need to use portals to navigate to his weak point.
  • Cool Gate: the Voidwalker item creates red and blue portals as long as you're targeting a specific wall patterns.
  • Cool Horse: Ruin in the original, Despair in the sequel.
  • Council of Angels: Heaven is run by angels alone. A Creator is mentioned in the backstory, but it's not clear whether he's aligned with Heaven, as there are older and more powerful creatures than angels. Also, if Twilight Cathedral is any indication, humans had an angel-worshiping religion.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: After defeating Straga, War shoots a portal at his head, teleports inside Straga's skull, and then cuts his way out. In actual gameplay, you are restricted to shooting portals at certain tiles.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Watcher.
  • Deal with the Devil: "Would you serve in Heaven? Or rule in Hell?"
    • "I choose what once... a coward did not."
  • The Dragon: Straga.
  • Drop the Hammer: Ulthane's weapon of choice. And it's really heavy.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight with The Watcher, who never stops treating War like dirt, and completely averted with everyone else in the game. Other characters, even his enemies, treat War with much more respect and/or fear. Heck, the entire plot happens because every major player including the Council is scared shitless of the Horsemen.
  • Dueling Games: Released almost simultaneously with fellow religious beat-em-up, Bayonetta.
  • Dynamic Loading: The areas connecting named locations are usually long and winding corridors with some enemies, simple puzzles and hidden items to mask their true purpose. Played painfully straight in case of Serpent Tunnels, which allow you to travel to nearly any location and consist of series of platforms suspended in a void and nothing else (there are collectibles hidden in three of them, though).
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Happens a few times in the Black Throne.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Uses a Variation. The apocalypse is not only inevitable but there's a system in place to ensure that it DOES happen.
    • To be fair, the Apocalypse was only officially meant to occur when the Earth was "ready" and we assume is capable of defending itself fairly. We clearly were not at this point yet (hence the reason for the game) and were suitably annihilated.
  • Exposition Fairy: The Watcher serves this role, as well as making sure War doesn't get out of hand.
  • Expy: Vulgrim looks almost exactly like Kel'thuzad.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Black Tower.
  • Evil Weapon: According to the comic, Chaoseater is a cursed, soul-devouring blade that War risks being destroyed by. None of this is ever mentioned in the game itself, however.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Most Demons only have four fingers on each hand. Angels, Humans and Horsemen have the normal 5 for some reason...
    • This actually makes an amazing amount of sense when you think about it. Humans and Angels come from the same Creator so it makes sense that they'd share some similarities. The Horsemen are Nephilim who, according to religious lore, were the children of Angels and Humans and in Darksiders are children of the Creator meant to guard the humans when they were first created. Where the demons come from isn't clear but it seems to be that the Creator races all share vaguely humanoid appearances which makes sense if they were made in His image.
  • Genius Bruiser: Let's just say Ulthane is a lot smarter than he looks. He's an Ultimate Blacksmith and is one of the three conspirators behind the plan to trigger the premature Apocalypse in a bid to destroy the forces of Hell.
  • Genre Savvy: War is sharp enough to realize it would not be a good idea to reveal the secret he is given in a vision from the Tree of Knowledge - that the Charred Council set up part of War's quest of revenge in order to force you to hunt down those responsible for breaking the truce - specifically not to the one person that has the power to kill him on a whim, The Watcher.
  • A God Am I Abbadon makes several claims to such to both Azrael and the player. Not surprising seeing as who he's named after.
    • After War gives him all 4 Chosen's Hearts, Samael says to War that his restored powers make him "like unto a god".
  • A God Is You: The Horsemen qualify.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: War enlists the help of disgruntled former employees of the Destroyer. The games ends with War summoning the other three Horsemen to sort out the Charred Council it appears.
  • Grappling Hook Pistol: The Abyssal Chain can pull War to climbable surfaces and let him swing from certain points. It also can be used to pull small enemies to War, or him to larger ones. Very useful against those sword-wielding daemonettes, which it knocks off their feet.
  • The Grim Reaper: Two instances;
    • Azrael, the Angel of Death, who is an ally.
  • Ground Pound: The Tremor Gauntlet gives you this as an air attack.
  • Guide Dang It: You will probably need a guide for 100% Completion.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Mercy, even with the damage upgrade, is only useful while taking on ashworms.
    • Also, in the Armageddon section, police officers will shoot pistols at demons and War. To absolutely no effect whatsoever.
  • Final Exam Boss: Nearly all the bosses in the game require you to use the items you collected in their dungeon to defeat them.
  • Hand Cannon: Strife uses two of these. War manages to get one of them, Mercy.
  • Heart Container: Lifestones.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: If it wasn't clear enough, Watcher is Mark Hamill. (Applause)
  • Hellish Horse: Ruin, the Horse of War, and in the sequel Despair, the Horse of Death.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Averted for most of the demons, but with higher level skill boosters, played hilariously straight with the weakest enemies, zombies: they erupt in a fountain of blood after one hit.
  • Homage: Arguably one for The Legend of Zelda, God of War and Devil May Cry.
    • Somehow all the game media have failed to notice influence of Legacy of Kain which looks much more sizable than influence of GOW and DMC combined.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The main character is one of them. The others are coming in the next game. Two of the traditional Horsemen have been replaced: Strife replaces Conquest and Fury replaces Famine. Word of God is that they were thinking in terms of the War, Death, Pestilence, and Famine set, and they didn't think Pestilence and Famine were suitably militant and dynamic for an action game series.
  • 100% Completion
  • Infinity+1 Sword / Sword of Plot Advancement: The Armageddon Blade, the only weapon capable of harming The Destroyer. It's stupidly powerful but you can't attach enhancements to it, and it replaces the Chaoseater for the rest of the game once you obtain it.
  • Improvised Weapon: Don't let being a Horseman of the Apocalypse stop you from swinging telephone poles, parking meters, and pianos at flaming demons.
    • Strangely, there's an Achievement for killing 150 enemies this way, known as "Improvised Kills".
  • In the Hood: The main character War obviously!
  • Jerkass: The Watcher. Makes it all the more satisfying when War kills him.
  • Justified Tutorial: The beginning of the game during the Taste of Power segment.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Samael bitchslapping the Watcher.
  • Kill'Em All: Averted by War as he actually saves Uriel and Azrael.
  • Kill It with Fire: When using the hellfire weapon enhancement.
  • King Mook: The second boss fight, the Phantom Guard General, looks like a bigger version of the wussy Phantom Guard Soldiers you've been slaughtering - and summons several of them throughout the fight.
  • Last of His Kind: The Horsemen are the last survivors of their ancient race. The rest were killed off in the war that consumed their kind. The Charred Council took in the four and charged them with enforcing the Balance.
  • Light Is Not Good: Subverted: The reason Angels are attacking War is that they blame him for The End of the World as We Know It and are understandably pissed off about it. They eventually realize he wasn't to blame, and Uriel even says she's sorry.
    • Abaddon plays it straight and even Azrael's hands are not spotless as he was a co-conspirator.
  • Lightning Bruiser: As well as being strong enough to juggle cars, War can zip around like he has rockets attached to his boots. The developers' stated intent is for Death to be the Fragile Speedster to War's Mighty Glacier.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Straga is declared to be one by Azrael, however, you can revisit the Black Tower after you defeat him anyway.
  • Lost Forever: Subverted. Despite Azrael's words to the contrary, you can go back to Lost Eden at any time after your first visit.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Uriel blames War for Abaddon's death and insists on hunting him down despite his protests that he was summoned, which he was sorta. And only after swearing a death oath and being soundly defeated by you does she finally listen to reason.
  • Magitek: The Angels wear Powered Armor and wield energy weapons.
  • Man Behind the Man: A woman heavily implied to be Lilith, Adam's first wife and the eventual mother of all demons, was the one who offered Abaddon his Deal with the Devil.
  • Mask of Power: The Mask of Shadows.
  • Meaningful Name: Knowing what title is usually tacked on to the end of Abaddon's name (or, alternately, what it means in Hebrew) ends up revealing a major plot point long before the plot brings it up. This may have been intentional given how much the game is based on the actual biblical Apocalypse.
    • "Uriel" means "God is my light/God is my fire". And in tradition, Uriel was the angel that cast man out of Eden and also holds the keys to the gates of Hell. Pretty snappy for the commander of the Hellguard.
  • Metroidvania: In large part.
  • Missing Secret: Due to a bug, one of the chests in Drowned Pass never registers as opened. When a player returns there with an upgrade that reveals all collectibles on map, they will see a chest that's nowhere to be found. And since there are chests that appear only when you do some totally unrelated action, like destroying all hydrants, cue players doing things like killing all the monsters three times over (since there are no destructibles on that map).
  • Money Grinding: If you want these shiny weapon techniques or fury techniques, you'll have to do quite some.
  • Mook Chivalry: Enemies, even the Giant Mooks, stop attacking and cordially get out the way during an Action Command so War can layeth the smacketh down.
  • A Mythology Is True: Judeo-Christian book of revelations type stuff is very real, and will probably kill you.
  • Mysterious Backer: Sammael is an archdemon from hell so powerful that the destroyer had him imprisoned and reduced to an extra. He uses what power he does have left to help War, the protagonist, so that War will help him get his powers back.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Destroyer, Abaddon, all of the Horsemen. And these are only naming a few.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice job starting the apocalypse without the 7th seal being broken, War. Subverted in that he was tricked by the council to come down.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Watcher ends up severely pissing off War when he finally tries to kill him. This ends up not being a bright idea since if he didn't want to try to destroy the Charred Council before he sure does now. Also, once he had the Seventh Seal, he should've performed a Villain Exit Stage Left and let Uriel deal with War instead of just hanging around to gloat. What does he get for his trouble instead, you ask? Just a really bad case of death.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: The Horseman Death. He once shrugged off being impaled by War's Chaoseater.
  • Noble Demon: War, with his code of honour, can classify.
    • Samael ends up as one as he fulfills his end of the bargain.
  • No Ontological Inertia: After defeating the Stygian, all ashworms inexplicably disappear from the Ashlands.
  • Oh Crap: Abaddon when he sees that War has arrived on Earth, which he realizes means his plan has failed. You don't realize that's the problem when you see it happen, though.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Despite having not just one health bar, but several, you'll run into this with higher level enemies.
  • One-Winged Angel: War has the ability to do this, though only when the gauge is full.
    • The Destroyer kind of inverts this, as he starts in his one-winged form.
  • One-Handed Zweihander: How War wields his BFS (he even provides the trope picture).
  • Order Versus Chaos: Angels versus Demons, guess which side is which.
  • Our Angels Are Different: These angels prefer full suits of futuristic armor to white robes and laser-shooting spears or energy cannons to flaming swords.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Yes, they are. They also have guns but in fewer numbers than the angels. They are mostly melee fighters and tough as nails.
  • Overdrawn At the Blood Bank: Most demons, there is even a trophy/achievement for disgorging 5000 gallons of demon blood.
  • Palette Swap: Nearly all of the mooks are upgraded and given different colors throughout the game.
  • Planet Heck: What's left of Earth generally, The Scalding Gallow specifically.
  • Plot Coupon: The four Chosens' Hearts.
  • Power Fist: The Tremor Gauntlet. It also smashes ice barriers and lets War open really heavy doors.
  • Powerup Mount: Ruin, Despair, and the heavenly beast that War hijacks.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Crossblade.
  • Ranged Emergency Weapon: War gets a gun and a boomerang for long-range work, but there's no question that he's a melee character; neither of them can do much of any damage, but there are a few situations where you're forced to use them on enemies you either can't reach, or don't want to be standing next to.
  • Rated "M" for Manly
  • Red Right Hand: Samael is already a huge, horned red demon, but one of the unsettling things about his design is that his wings are upside-down.
    • He's supposed to have those because, and correct me if I'm wrong, demons traditionally have upside down wings to reflect their existence as fallen angels.
    • They're not actually upside down. They're folded. His wings are actually huge and after bending them at the joint around, it looks like a smaller pair of upside down wings. However, he unfurls them in the comic, so it's much more obvious.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Most breakable objects will release souls when destroyed, but most don't respawn when you come back later, either. Who's going to replace those broken down cars, the demons?
  • Retcon: The comic identifies Death as Nigh Invulnerable, but the sequel, which stars him, treats him as a Fragile Speedster compared to War's Mighty Glacier.
    • It could be argued that Death is still much more powerful than War, he's just facing much more powerful enemies than War did.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: You engage in one of these in an attempt to clear your name and regain your rightful place as an enforcer for the Charred Council. The games ends with a sequel hook where War summons the other three Horsemen so, it appears, they can shows the Council what's what.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Having an angel named Abaddon being killed by a being called "The Destroyer" is funny on multiple levels, considering Abaddon is Hebrew for "the destroyer" or "the place of destruction" and is actually supposed to be a demon. Averted, since Abaddon is the Destroyer after all.
    • The canonical 4 horsemen of the apocalypse are Conquest, War, Famine, and Death; Pestilence replaces Conquest in some interpretations.
  • Sand Worm: They happen to live in a desert created from the ashes of all humanity.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Considering everyone present in this game is a superhuman at least, the armor they wear isn't impractical as such, but still fits the spirit of the trope.
  • Scenery Porn: Eden definitely qualifies. Anvil's Ford is quite pretty too.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Samael. An unusual use of this trope, since you have to free him and restore his full powers to continue your quest against the Destroyer.
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with War killing The Watcher and destroying the Seventh Seal thus freeing him and the other Horsemen to give the Charred Council what's coming to them.
    • POV Sequel: Oddly, the sequel doesn't use that hook, instead following Death shortly after the apocalypse and in a similar timeframe to the events of the original.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Of course these are present.
  • Shout-Out: Many possible shoutouts in the items (Do the Crossblade and Abyssal Chain remind you of anything?), but one particularly obvious one. Late in the game, you get the Void Walker item. It creates one pair of portals at a time (though only at specific locations), through which you can jump. The first portal you fire is orange. The second is blue. Sound familiar?
    • Oh, it doesn't stop there. There's the Empty Vessel, which you can fill with souls of enemies so you can use it later (Empty Bottle). There's the Hoardseeker, which reveals the location of all the treasure chests in a dungeon (Compass). There's the Mask of Shadows, which lets you see hidden objects (Lens of Truth). And... You have to collect shards of the Armageddon Blade before you can fight the final boss (The Triforce shards)
    • And after the aforementioned reunion with your horse, the demons watching you fight off their buddies in a gladiatorial arena decide to all just attack. The Watcher has this to say:

The Watcher: "Are you not entertained?"

  • Sinister Scythe: The Harvester, Death's scythe. You get more souls if it's used for the killing blow.
  • Spanner in the Works: Uriel frees War from the Charred Council by breaking the Seventh Seal, thus summoning the other three Horsemen.
  • Spikes of Doom: Demon warriors' armor (and bodies) and the Abyssal Armor Set.
  • The Starscream: Samael, who was imprisoned for trying to take over Hell. He's on your side... sorta.
  • Super Drowning Skills: War can breathe underwater forever, but there are several enemies that die instantly when they hit the water.
  • Super Mode: Chaos Form for War (Heroic version), and the Destroyer for Abaddon (Villainous version) in the first game. Reaper Form for Death in the sequel.
  • A Taste of Power: War starts with eight Lifestones, a maxed out Chaoseater and the ability to use Chaos Form indefinitely. Then he loses half of the Lifestones and Chaos Form. And the Charred Council takes the rest after the first Boss Fight.
  • Teleport Spam: Silitha's combat style.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Council set up War so they could use him as an assassin. Samael later uses War to reclaim his stolen power from the Chosen.
  • Violent Glaswegian: With a huge hammer, no less.
  • "Wake-Up Call" Boss: It's not too difficult to figure out how to defeat Tiamat. Actually doing it, on the other hand, can prove extremely troublesome if you haven't stocked up on healing items beforehand.
    • Using the Crossblade the entire time? Death of a Thousand Cuts actually works, and is somewhat practical if you charge it up first. Hardly took a scratch.
  • We Can Rule Together: Abaddon makes this offer to War with the same deal that he accepted to become the Destroyer. War's response?

War: I choose what once... a coward did not.

  • What Could Have Been: The game was originally meant to have four player co-op, with each player controlling a different Horseman. Apparently this was a far grander vision then they were capable of executing. There was also going to be a character called The Hunter: the gun-toting last survivor of mankind, understandably quite pissed at War and serving as a boss.
  • Worm Sign: In the levels with the Sand Worms this is how you see them coming for you.
  • Worthy Opponent: War considers Uriel one of these. So much so that he refrains from finishing her off after defeating her in a sacred duel to the death because he doesn't want the last of Heaven's honor to die with her.
  • X Meets Y: Zelda meets Devil May Cry
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Appears to be the Charred Council's plan for War when he's finished hunting those responsible for breaking the truce. Doesn't quite work out as planned though seeing as how he's still very much alive.
    • The Watcher's sister when she tells the Council that the End War is happening prematurely during the comic.
    • Subverted when Azrael keeps finding ways of making himself useful.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: Those souls you pay Vulgrim with? He eats them, and the game makes this very clear the first time you meet him.

Vulgrim: Mmmm, there were a few young ones in there.