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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.
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An Action-Adventure game series from Vigil Games and published by THQ, Darksiders puts you in the role 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: the 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, when the End War begins...except that the Seven Seals were never broken. War stands accused of starting it early and siding with Hell, but claims he was only answering the Seals' summons; in lieu of execution, the Charred Council sends him to hunt down those truly responsible. Death flies into a rage upon hearing the news, knowing of his brother's innocence. Knowing that the truth will not change War's fate, he chooses to erase the crime entirely by travelling to The Abyss and restoring mankind. Also at that time, Fury is tasked with hunting down the embodiments of the Seven Deadly Sins. The fate of Earth hangs in the balance as their stories intertwine...

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The series includes:

Comic Books

  • Darksiders: The Graphic Adventure (2009)
  • Darksiders II: Death's Door (2012)

Literature

  • Darksiders: The Abomination Vault (2012)

Tabletop Games

  • Darksiders: The Forbidden Land (2020)

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The series provides examples of:

  • Action Command: Press B or circle to destroy your opponent with extreme prejudice.
  • Action Girl: Fury for the Horsemen, and Uriel for the Angels, which is funny, since in Christian tradition Uriel is considered male or androgynous.
  • After the End: While the first section of the first game takes place during The End of the World as We Know It, the rest of it is afterwards.
    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 manuals and comic books contain a lot of extra back-story not in the game.
  • 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. And the crows seem to be there solely because they are soul carriers in many mythologies (which is partly explained in II).
  • Archangel Azrael: Azrael is the Archangel of Death. He isn't however very involved with overseeing death or ushering souls, largely because that overlap with the thematic focus of Death, the second game's protagonist, and is instead a scholar and the protector of important places such as the Well of Souls.
    • Azrael is directly, though reluctantly, responsible for causing the Apocalypse prematurely through his alliance with the angel Abaddon and the Maker Ulthane, as he destroyed six of the seven sealsnote  with the Armageddon Blade, in a bid by Abaddon to draw out Hell's champions and destroy Hell altogether. The plan failed as Hell was far better prepared than they expected, and the Charred Council sent the Horseman War anyway, which distracted Abaddon long enough for one of Hell's champions to kill him and then depowered War. In the 100 years after, and after being imprisoned by Abaddon (who shortly after his death agreed to serve Lucifer), Azrael deeply regretted his actions and willingly aided War once again when War returned to Earth, fully expecting War to kill him when he no longer had any use for the angel. War simply asks Azrael to send him to Abaddon's location so that War can fulfill his mission to kill Abaddon, and it's the last they ever see of each other.
    • During the events of the prequel novel The Abomination Vault, Azrael is among the angels sent to reinforce a garrison defending Eden from the Construct Army sent by the Maker Belisatra to retrieve the lost Nephilim weapons that were left from battles past. Though he and his forces emerge victorious, the carnage is so great that he feels compelled to cast powerful illusion magic to hide it; even the Horseman Death himself is almost completely fooled by the spell when the Charred Council sent him to investigate what happened. He later aids the Horsemen by supplying them vital knowledge on Belisatra and her allies, and helps Death and War defeat the true Big Bad, an angel named Hadrimon, by disguising himself as Hadrimon's former lover and distracting the insane angel.
  • The Armies of Heaven: A small sub-faction of Angels, known as the Hellguard, make appearances as antagonists.
  • 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 slice off his left arm. Now War's got a really big metal arm in its place, not that he needs it to swing his BFS.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Most bosses have one that must be hit in order to stun it, then you can wail away.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: The Charred Council and the Horsemen are charged with maintaining this. It's hinted at in this one and all but outright stated in latter entries that the former aren't so much about protecting the Balance as their own influence and power at this point, however.
  • 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.
  • 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: One of the trigger buttons act as one, making it easier to keep attacking a specific target.
  • Cool Horse: Each of the Horsemen have one. For example, War has Ruin, who's fast, huge even for a horse, and produces flames near him to damage enemies.
  • 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.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Somewhat averted due to the fact that the Horsemen are all simply doing their job and do have an honor code with no major grudge against mankind. However, it doesn't mean they haven't done some questionable things in their past and present.
  • 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."
    • War's deal with Samael turns into this when it turns out Samael lied to him about the purpose of the Chosens' hearts were.
  • 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).
  • 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 first game) and were suitably annihilated.
  • 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.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Averted, demons and angels both use rifles/shotguns and cannons, War himself gets a massive revolver, which sadly isn't good for much.
  • 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.
      • Slightly changed in Darksiders II, where the opening reveals that the Nephilim are the children of angels and demons instead of children of the creator or children of angels and humans.
      • Also subverted in that it's implied that demons and angels are entirely separate races, as opposed to demons solely being former angels. Though the prequel novel The Abomination Vault confirms that angels can be changed into demons.
  • Gameplay Roulette: Each game takes a different direction from its predecessors. 1 is largely a hack-and-slash game in the vein of God of War, 2 takes a dive into more RPG-like elements with various customization options, 3 is a Souls-like, and Genesis is a top-down hack-and-slash in the vein of Diablo and its clones. Though the first three all have significant echoes of The Legend of Zelda-but-Grimdark.
  • A God Is You: The Horsemen qualify.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: This is the color scheme of most of the angels and their angelic gryphon mount that the protagonist briefly steals from them.
  • The Grim Reaper: Two instances;
    • Azrael, the Angel of Death, who is an ally to War in his game. Though he seems to be primarily responsible for moving the souls of the dead into the Well of Souls and arranging for their rebirths, rather than taking a direct role in ending their lives.
    • Death of the Four Horsemen, War's older brother and protagonist of the first sequel.
  • Guide Dang It!: You will probably need a guide for 100% Completion.
  • 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. Death receives the other one, Redemption, in the sequel.
  • Heart Container: Lifestones.
  • Hellish Horse: Ruin, the Red Horse of War.
  • 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.
  • High-Tech Heaven: Angels in this game have Powered Armor and large energy weapons. Demons tend to have more biological and magical trappings to them.
  • Homage: A respected member of a supernatural order is stripped of all power before being given a second chance by a shadowy mysterious entity that manipulates him into gliding with wings that barely work and pushing around a lot of block puzzles. The game also contains a boomerang, souls used to purchase moves, a button to execute enemies and a gun that shoots blue and orange portals.
  • Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The main characters are these. Two of the traditional Horsemen have been replaced: Strife replaces Conquest(/Pestilince) 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. (Strictly speaking, the old classical portrayals would have the red horse's rider as Civil War or Slaughter, rather than War; he couldn't have all of War because some of it belonged to Conquest.)
  • 100% Completion: You can get an achievement/trophy by doing this as well.
  • Humans Are Special: Not only was the birth of our race part of the reason why the Charred Council forced a cold war between Heaven and Hell (so that we could become powerful enough to take on both), but apparently there was something about us that earned us Earth's title of "The Third Kingdom". And our extinction in the beginning of the story is one of the major reasons why the Charred Council is pissed at War. We're physically weak in comparison to other races, but for some reason we're important.
  • Improvised Weapon: Don't let being a Horseman of the Apocalypse stop you from swinging telephone poles, parking meters, cars, chairs and pianos at flaming demons. In fact, there's an Achievement for killing 150 enemies this way, known as "Improvised Kills".
  • In the Hood: War.
  • Last of His Kind: The Horsemen are the last survivors of their ancient race (the Nephilim). 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.
    • Retconned in Darksiders II, where not only the Nephilim are the offspring of angels and demons (and therefore, not exactly as ancient as Heaven and Hell), but the Horsemen themselves (with some help from Heaven) killed off their own race as their first mission from the Charred Council.
      • Justified Trope: Considering that said Nephilim were going on a mass world-destroying spree that would have destroyed the Balance and humanity was next on the list of their victims.
  • 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.
  • Magitek: The Angels wear Powered Armor and wield energy weapons.
  • Metroidvania: In large part.
  • 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 the Horsemen can layeth the smacketh down. Though frequently the 'execution' will also hit the surrounding mooks that don't get out of the way quickly enough, so this may be [[Justified]].
    • Just one enemy type averts this: a subspecies of flying stirge which generates electrical fields which can shock you coming out of the killing animation. Given that they're one of the weak species which exist to be killed en masse to heal you (and produce currency instead if not killed by Action Command), finding this out can be unpleasant.
  • A Mythology Is True: The Abrahamic religionsnote  are real in this game. Specifically, the Book of Revelations-inspired premise and Kabbalah-esque lore. There's even a bit of Norse mythology in there (ex. Magical trees connecting to other realms and being able to use them as transport). Subverted in that a lot of creative license was used, making the universe seem very loosely based on it.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Destroyer, Abaddon, all of the Horsemen. And these are only naming a few.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: In the comic, the Horseman Death. He once shrugged off being impaled by War's Chaoseater. Ironically, the sequel made him much less durable but more mobile than War.
  • Noble Demon: War, with his code of honor, can classify. Some enemies respond to him assuming his Chaos Form by saying 'The Red Demon awakes!'
    • Samael ends up as one as he fulfills his end of the bargain.
  • 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.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Angels versus demons, guess which side is which.
  • Our Angels Are Different: These angels prefer full suits of futuristic armor to robes and laser-shooting spears or energy cannons to flaming swords.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Yes, they are, as it's implied that they may not be entirely like the demons of Judeo-Christian mythology, where demons were only fallen angels. 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 in the first game 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.
  • Power-Up Mount: Ruin, Despair, and the heavenly beasts that can be hijacked.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: A hundred years of occupation by demons and no humans to maintain buildings means that the wrecked city that serves as the main hub and the ruins Tiamat resides should not still be standing.
  • Rated M for Manly: The games are filled to the brim with testosterone.
  • Real Is Brown: Played straight for most of the first game, but justified in that it takes place in the burned-out remains of a human city after the apocalypse. It's averted in the areas where the vegetation has started to grow back.
  • 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?
  • Sadly Mythtaken: The classical interpretation of the four Horsemen were the white horse bearing a symbol of conquest and royalty, the red horse bearing a symbol of internal strife, civil war, and pointless slaughter, the black horse bearing a symbol of famine and inequality, and the fourth pale/pallid horse bearing Death. The King James Bible then says "And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth." In antiquity, this was usually glossed as Conquest, Civil War/Strife/Slaughter, Famine, and Death.
    • Modern interpretations, particularly in pop culture, rename the white rider to Pestilence and the red rider to War, keeping Famine and Death; without Conquest in the lineup, "to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword" naturally expands to cover all forms of War and violence. However, only the fourth rider, Death, is explicitly named in any version of the Bible. The names Conquest/Pestilence, War/Slaughter, and Famine are interpretations of their descriptions. Famous and well-researched interpretations, but Death of the Author certainly appliesnote . So having the White Horse bearing Strife and the Black Horse bearing Fury is not an outright contradiction and the trope could be judged Averted or Justified.
    • For those who want to judge for themselves: The canonical description used to identify the white rider as Conquest/Pestilence is "He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer." The crown and conquering suggest Conquest and the bow is linked to Pestilence (which spreads far and wide, rapidly); some translations render the "fourth part of the earth" list as "to kill by sword, by famine, by plague, and by the beasts of the earth", which suggests one of the four should be responsible for it. For the black horse as Famine, the line is "he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, 'A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.'", suggesting that luxuries are flowing freely to the rich, but commoner's food is very expensive. The update from bow to guns is certainly within spec, but the crown is gone and Strife does not seem interested in conquering anything. For Fury (Rule63 aside) her closer adherence to the Balance matches the symbol she is said to carry, but she is more interested in protecting humanity than in creating inequality or scarcity.

  • 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.
  • Shoulders of Doom: Given the amount of Scary Impractical Armor, 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?
    • 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/Triforce to assemble it into a Legendary Weapon/Master Sword before you can fight the final boss
    • 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 achievement for gaining the Mask of Shadows is called "Sight Beyond Sight".
    • Speaking of The Watcher, it's Mark Hamill doing the voice. Does it sound familiar?
    • War and Vulgrim look similar to Prince Arthas and Kel'Thuzad respectively.
  • Sinister Scythe: The Harvester, Death's scythe. You get more souls if it's used for the killing blow.
  • Spikes of Doom: Demon warriors' armor (and bodies) and the first game's Abyssal Armor Set.
  • Stripperific: Look closely at the statues in the Twilight Cathedral.
  • Updated Re-release: The Warmastered and Deathinitive Editions gives the games a visual overhaul with higher resolution textures, higher quality shadows, new post-processing effects, remastered cutscenes, and runs at 60 FPS (save for the Wii U version). The Warmastered version also includes the Harvester scythe previously exclusive to pre-orders.

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