You're still never far from a fight, of course - War could probably kick off a scrap at a primary school sports day, as he no doubt will in a DS version - as the hellspawn is perfectly capable of pursuing you up walls, and knocking them off with a wayward swing feels just as good as it does pulping their heads in the impromptu arenas formed in the streets below.
Fighting is only half of the pleasures on offer, however. Darksiders has a more thoughtful dungeon-raiding side to it too, filled with traversal options and puzzles. Kicking off with double-jumps, and wall-slides, the more explorative elements start simply enough with a little block-dragging and pipe-clambering, but the whole thing quickly ramps up in complexity, and some of the game's larger set-pieces, while unable to match Zelda for intricate brilliance, certainly show signs of its influence, and make up for the difference with spectacle and enthusiasm. There are grisly machines to coax back to life, impossible rooms to navigate, and Vigil's not above throwing a fetch quest in amongst the puzzles either.
Early on you'll have to buy information from ghoulish shopkeeper Vulgrim with collected souls, but even that generally leads you back into the game's chunky combat, and, even after a few solid hours, the battling isn't as quick to become a slog as it did with Prototype, due to the colour and pace and the beautiful-ugly enemy design. Meanwhile, incidental details, like ruptured hydrants spilling water over the streets as you smack people into them, and the greying papers twisting on the breeze, make you feel that someone really put some time and effort into this one.
And while the ever-enlarging hub of post-apocalyptic American city can initially seem a little unwieldy to get around, as soon as Ruin, your hellish horse, makes an appearance, the game shifts up a gear, flinging monsters at you on a different scale, while you race through the game's slalom of overworld missions and bigger, chunkier dungeons, which will be familiar to anyone who's ever strolled through Hyrule, even before the game starts dropping a series of very familiar items into your lap. It's homage, certainly - actually, at times, it's clearly total theft - but it's all carried off with such boundless energy that it's hard to begrudge the game its own lovingly-referenced influences.
In between the action there's a few pieces of plot now and then - the apocalypse has been triggered early and it's all a bit of a fit-up job by the looks of it - but that's for the handful who will want to read the inevitable comic book series.
And in the long run, that's perhaps the best way of summing up how Darksiders is looking at the moment: it's exactly the kind of game that would be well-suited to glossy high-action layouts and pithy, speech bubble dialogue. If that's what you're after - even if it's just for a guilty pleasure - Vigil Games may have rustled up just want you need.
Darksiders is due out for PS3 and Xbox 360 on 8th January 2010.