Review: Darksiders Genesis
Darksiders is not an IP that anyone is going to accuse of getting stagnant, with each of the three outings thus far having switched things up considerably.
The first game, starring horseman of the apocalypse War, was a stylishly decorated and solidly designed – if somewhat obvious about its Legend of Zelda inspirations – but otherwise run of the mill hack and slash action-adventure game. War’s style of combat was all about heavy hits and blocking or evading damage, using giant weapons against even bigger enemies.
The second game, Darksiders II, starred Death and pushed further into adventure and puzzle elements, borrowing liberally from greats like The Legend of Zelda and Prince of Persia while adding in seemingly endless loot drops. The combat also changed, with Death’s smaller, faster frame more suited to avoiding enemy attacks and then counterattacking with combination attacks.
Darksiders III introduced yet another of the horsemen, this time their sister, Fury. Wielding whips as her primary weapon, Fury’s combat was far faster than even that from Darksiders II and emphasized more heavily the idea of combat skills, not combat gear.
And now Darksiders Genesis switches things up yet again, with a release on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One (previously released on PC in December, 2019) with an isometric overhead camera default and loot showers from defeated enemies that are instantly reminiscent of Diablo. Though I really wanted to see what a Darksiders-style take on the Diablo-style loot-RPG would be, that’s not what we get here, however, at least not entirely.
Enemies don’t drop new weapons and armor for you to use, for example, instead they’ll occasionally drop a gem called a Core. Each core has an associated perk that can be accessed by socketing them into your skill tree – and as you gather up cores they’ll grow stronger, giving you access to stronger perks. Want more of a ‘min/max’ problem to solve? Cores come in three varieties: Attack, Wrath, and Health, and socketing them into a matching category slot will provide a boost – so you’ll need to carefully consider what cores you just can’t live without.
Aside from that, this really doesn’t feel like Diablo either, though Strife – the last of the horseman to be introduced to the series – plays most like a Diablo character thanks to his ranged-heavy offensive capabilities. War feels very much like he did in the first game, with heavy hits and limited but powerful combo attacks, it’s just played out from a different perspective and with more platforming/team-up puzzle elements.
While the game can be played solo if you prefer, it’s built with a co-op campaign in mind and having a friend accompany you is likely the best way to play. The puzzles are a little harder due to the need to synchronize some actions – especially if you’re playing with someone that’s having trouble with their part of the team-up – but teaming up against the bigger boss fights is a blast.
It’s also nice to have someone else along for exploring the massive open levels, though you won’t be able to see everything without picking up some needed abilities later in the game. There are multiple routes through the levels, and you can choose to go back and play through them again at any time you’d like if you want to gather up more Cores or try and get into an area you couldn’t before. An Arena – a wave-based survival game – opens up midway through the game as well, and that’s also a great way to grind out Cores.
While there’s a lot to like about Darksiders Genesis, there’s also a few things to hope they’ll patch – namely some infrequent but annoying framerate issues, particularly when playing as Strife. It’s also possible to get stuck on terrain if you’re the type to jump around a lot trying to get into places you think you should be able to, but probably aren’t supposed to.