Given I predominantly play on XBOX, and until recently my game of choice was the likes of Grand Theft Auto, I never really bothered with the likes of God of War. My girlfriend at the time however, was very much into that style of game, so it was only natural that when Darksiders was announced, she grabbed a copy. While I didn’t play anywhere near as much as she did, it was certainly a game that had stuck with me, as it held a fantastic story and the graphics were fantastic for the time it was released. Sadly, the play style didn’t do much for me, so I never bothered with the next two installments. This game is nothing like that experience.
Developed by American studio Airship Syndicate, and published by THQ Nordic, Darksiders Genesis was released via Steam on the fifth of December 2019. Unlike the other installments, Darksiders Genesis plays as a top down dungeon crawler, similar to the likes of the ‘Diablo’ series. On top of this, the main protagonist is Strife, the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, who is able to team up with War in a number of ways. A single player can swap and change between the brothers as levels progress, leveling their characters and adjusting their abilities on the fly. Alternatively, players can team up online in two player co-op, with players controlling either War or Strife. Earning Souls, the games currency, players will be able to purchase improvements for their chosen character, allowing them to change abilities or attack styles on the fly.
Strife is the agile ranged attacker, primarily using his two pistols, Mercy and Redemption. While still a powerhouse in close quarters, Strife really comes to life when attacking at range as players are able to choose different forms of ammunition for him to play with. Early in the game, I was able to unlock a charged shot that dealt significant damage to enemies, or a continuous beam of energy that shocked the target. War, who I am sure you’re familiar with if you’ve played any of the series, is the combat monster, striking enemies with the giant sword, Chaos Eater. While lacking much in the way of ranged attacks, and swinging quite slowly compared to Strife, War deals awesome amounts of damage that can be enhanced in a way similar to how Strife uses different ammunition. As players hack away at the hordes of enemies, you’ll build up a burst meter, which will allow you to unleash even more powerful attacks – A whole lot of fun with Strife and his charged shot, let me tell you!
One little disappointment was the graphics. Being a top-down hack-and-slash game, they are a little on the limited side of things. The skills and abilities are beautifully animated, but the overall graphics leave something to be desired. While the worlds feel bigger than the likes of Diablo, they feel very empty. There are sections, particularly with mini-boss fights, which have an incredible amount of detail, but the majority of what I experienced felt very empty. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a beautiful game. The worlds are incredible to look at, even if not as detailed as one might expect, and the character models are very distinct, so it’s easy to tell who is who.
Another frustration was the camera angles. Unlike most top-down games which follow a single camera angle and hide any terrain which might interfere with what you can see, Darksiders Genesis had issues where I couldn’t see my character at all as the camera moved into an awkward position. When I was visible, a bold silhouette would represent where my character was. Normally not an issue, but when the enemy is hiding there, they aren’t highlighted at all – you have no idea that they’re waiting for you.
Soundwise, the game has a few lovely surprises. Characters have been wonderfully voiced, with Strife being sarcastic and cocky, while War is more serious and to the point. Even characters such as Samael have an air of arrogance in their voices, believing themselves above the concerns of the Charred Council and immune to the Horsemen’s judgement. Aside from this, sound effects did in some cases also feel a little lacking. In the first chapter, for example, a giant siege weapon sounded more like the twang of a crossbow. Strife’s pistols seemed like little more than paintball guns. On the other hand, Chaos Easter sounded heavy and sharp as War swung it around, fleshy impacts making you completely aware you’d hit home. As much as I hate to say it, the audio was a mismatch of good and not so good. It was kind of fun to perform a finishing move on enemies though, as each character had something quite amusing to say as they tore the heads off demons.
Darksiders Genesis is, at its heart, a fantastic addition to the franchise. It introduces the fourth Horseman, changes the play-style significantly, and finally gives us access to multiplayer, albeit co-op only. It is different enough to other games of the same genre to feel like something new, with aspects pulled from previous titles such as wall climbing, attack combos and the like, but it is lacking a little when it comes to appearance.
While, at the time of this review it is only available on PC, via Steam, it is obvious the game is intended for console, as the game even says “You’ll enjoy this more with a controller” when you start it up. Unfortunately, for console players, You’ll need to wait until February, 2020, before you can get your hands on it. I just hope there are a few graphical improvements for then.
- Fun gameplay
- Familiar game style
- Multiplayer - finally!
- Decent Story
- Inconsistent sound effects
- While large, maps can feel empty
- Only on PC (for now)
- Limited character progression