Author’s Note: The following lampoon was attempted with as few spoilers as possible.
Darksiders is perhaps the most successful in a long line of games I like to call “Like God of War But,” meaning they seek to ape God of War’s combat and puzzle-platforming style, but out of necessity must slap a different coat of paint on it to appease the copyright gods. Darksiders, for example, is Like God of War But Concerning the Biblical Apocalypse. Since the gameplay of the series has as much originality as a plain Ritz cracker, the backstory holds the most interest in a “let’s cut open the cadaver to see where that smell is coming from” sort of way.
Pack your spelunking equipment, ladies and germs, because we’re going down the rabbit hole.
They’re rather coy about the whole biblical allegory business. The developers don’t want to step on toes by implying something as controversial as God and Satan having a dust-up in a Wal-Mart parking lot, referring instead to a “Creator” and a “Destroyer.” They, and the parties of heaven and hell, having been waging war since the dawn of creation, with neither gaining a significant advantage over the other. Amidst the conflict, the first humans emerged. In order to protect this new kingdom and the fabric of the universe, a Charred Council was convened in order to…oh, Christ, are you still reading this? This feels like it should be scrolling past Conan the Barbarian looking bored on a throne.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
In order to protect their decision and the balance and the fabric and the et cetera, the Charred Council created the Four Hoursemen. The leading horse is white, the second horse is red, the third one is black, and the last one is green. Wait, what? No? Damn you, Aphrodite’s Child! So apparently the Four Horsemen, as established in Darksiders II, are War, Death, Fury, and Strife. Fury and Strife? I would think that War would cause plenty of fury and strife on his own, but I guess Famine is a little too gradual, and what’s Pestilence good for? Coughing on people?
WAR! What is He Good For?
Good God, y’all. War is a piece of work. Apparently, Darksiders kicks off with War heading down to Earth to do his End-of-All-Things thing, when he realizes UH OH! This isn’t the apocalypse. This is just some other unrelated conflict between angels and demons that leads to total human extinction. HOW AWKWARD. So, the bureaucrats of the Charred Council take away his powers and boot him back down to Earth so he can evict all those angelic and demonic squatters until they can fill the proper forms in!
The Only Certainty Left is Taxes
So, after War has submitted the correct paperwork (signed in triplicate by the bosses of at least three dungeons, natch), Death sets out to do War a solid by resurrecting mankind. Because, you know, cosmic avatars of apocalyptic despair before shrieking harpies of damnation. But first he has to go talk to the Lord of the Dead, since he’s just apparently middle management. And then there are the Nephilim, which is another, separate thing, and…well, a lot of whollopingly Zelda-esque dungeon crawling ensues.
I Forgot My Golden Thread…
Darksiders seems to me to be an adventure in bureaucracy. Hell is anarchic chaos and Heaven is authoritarian douchebaggery, but in between them are the Nephilim, who are even bigger douchebags. And all the realms are being threatened by Corruption, which is a separate thing run by this dude who is ostensibly the avatar of chaos, and…wait, I thought Hell was chaos? Can I just go and swing my sword some more?
Uh…I think we’re going to need a bigger minotaur.
So there you have it. A completely spoiler-free overview of Darksiders mythology. I hoped I’ve wasted as much of your time when you read it as I spent doing the research.