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Darksiders II: Argul’s Tomb in Review

B. B. King famously wrote that he was paying the cost to be the boss and while his sentiment was aimed at a woman who was less than thrilled with how King spent his time, the phrase kept sticking in my head when thinking about Argul’s Tomb, the first piece of Darksiders II DLC. In my game, Death is the Boss, capital B: level 30, almost the entire Harbinger skill tree maxed out, a pair of scythes that steal health faster than I can lose it. Like I said, Boss, capital B. In this case, the cost of being such a high level boss is that dungeons like Argul’s Tomb hold very little challenge and even less reward.

Is this going to be an issue with other people who were less dedicated to making Death the very best horseman he can be, or those still playing the game? Certainly not, but I can’t be the only one with a high level character and while Argul’s Tomb may have some clever puzzles and an explosively entertaining rail gun section, I think it’s still better suited to those just starting out Death’s adventure, an unfortunate situation given that the game came out a month ago.

One of my biggest problems with Argul’s Tomb is the way that it’s integrated into the rest of Darksiders II, specifically that it isn’t. One of the best parts of the main game was the ability to explore hidden ruins and dungeons as you moved through the main quest. Sure, you may stumble across a puzzle you can’t solve yet, or enemies that were too tough for you, but the feeling of exploration was worth it, made all the more satisfying when you gained some levels or got a new toy and went back to tie up loose ends.

Argul’s Tomb is not a part of the main game, so you won’t come to it while riding around as Death. I accessed it by selecting it from the downloadable content menu in the main menu, so it’s possible that you get a message in a serpent tome or some portal opens up in the main game (something I doubt given the tools you use to navigate Argul’s Tomb), but even if it does, the fact that you can’t see the tomb, or have it show up on your map makes it feel disconnected from the main experience. Granted, Argul’s Tomb exists in an icy world of exile, but still, much of Darksiders II is spent moving from world to world, completing quests, finding items and defeating monsters, so to have this one exist outside the reach of the main game is odd.

Adding to the disconnect is the lack of collectibles. Yes, loot is still available and the plot of the DLC, namely an exploration of what happened to Argul, the boss at the end of the Lair of the Deposed King and the ruler of the Land of the Dead before the Dead King took over, ties in to the main game, but there are no relics or stones or other collectibles to find while looking around. Maybe if you were lower level or still on the lookout for a particular weapon to feed your possessed scythes, the draw of more loot would be enough to set you off and exploring, but for me, more loot just meant more stuff to have to sell or toss out, so looking around wasn’t nearly as interesting without new collectibles to hunt.

The DLC consists of two dungeons and spelunking section made all the more interesting with an explosive firearm. While the cave is nothing but running and gunning, and I mean that in the best way possible, ending in a massive showdown with an army of ice covered skeletons and bone giants, the two dungeons feature the usual mix of combat and puzzle solving found in the main game. Death is given nothing but the portal gun and the death grip, no soul splitting for you, and using these tools in combination is essential to getting to the end of the two dungeons. Portal puzzles is one area that I felt got the short shrift in the main game, so I was glad to see some dungeons requiring you to think about where to place your portals, as well as revisit past portals in order to gain deeper entry into the dungeon.

The DLC won’t take very long, maybe an hour and a half, and is capped off with the usual Darksiders II boss battle against yet another embodiment of epic evil but honestly, even this boss was somewhat of a pushover. I played the entire DLC on Apocalyptic in an effort to balance out whatever bonuses my superpowered build afforded, but I barely broke a sweat during the DLC, boss battle included. Granted, this boss battle wasn’t as easy as the final two battles in the main game, but I was hoping that Vigil would use the DLC as an opportunity to challenge players and that wasn’t the case.

If you purchased Darksiders II new, the DLC is free of charge, so there’s no cost to play it other than an hour or so of your time. If you’re still playing the main game, it’s worth it to go and grab some more loot and gain some more experience. If, on the other hand, you either rented the game, or have already reached level 30, the dungeon itself has some interesting puzzles, but nothing so spectacular that the DLC should be purchased or put at the top of your Must Play list. Heck, there aren’t even any new achievements or trophies. Knowing that Vigil has a season’s pass worth of DLC in the pipeline, I’m hoping that future content either introduces new weapons, or a raise to the level cap, or some reason to play other than killing and exploring for the sake of killing and exploring. If not, I fear that Vigil will have a hard time convincing people to set about on a pale horse yet again.