Having originally launched in December on PC and Google Stadia, Darksiders Genesis is finally making its way to consoles. Developer Airship Syndicate, made up of former Vigil Games employees, continues their work on the spin-off set within the Darksiders universe. THQ Nordic is betting heavily on the franchise and so far, the bet has paid off for them.
Shifting from a third-person hack and slash with puzzle elements to an isometric dungeon-crawler is surprisingly a smart move. By doing this, the gameplay stays the same but offers a new perspective and easily what is the best game of the series (I always preferred 1 to 2 or 3 of the main games, however). Also, the perspective shift may illicit a gameplay change but quite the contrary, this is the full Darksiders experience and less a rip-off of Blizzard’s Diablo series.
Choose Your Character
Playing as either Strife, the newest Horseman, or War, the first of the Horseman, the story of Genesis begins hundreds of years before the first Darksiders. Strife and War are tasked with stopping Lucifer by the Council and must follow his path of destruction to stop him. Firstly, the spin-off’s story is the weakest of the bunch with most of what you need to know occurring within the first hour or so. From there, you alone or with someone must travel to several dimensions in order to find an enemy, defeat them, and take what they have from them or learning of Lucifer’s location from them.
However, the voice cast is excellent and that helps alleviate some issues due to the performances being outstanding. Even though the story beats never hit a high, the character beats sure do and that’s worth mentioning if you’re invested in the plot over characters. Strife is the opposite of War, acting as the humorous and easy-going of the pair. War is so straight-faced and by the book, when these two interact it’s a treat to see unfold. Liam O’Brien always does an excellent job when he dons his War persona and Chris Jai Alexander has a ton of fun as Strife.
What I enjoyed was the signature Darksiders combat translating to an isometric view. Attacks are fast-paced and brutal and playing as either Strife or War is as fun as you’d expect. War specifically plays as I remember him in the first game, and newcomer Strife uses dual pistols Mercy and Revolver to deal with enemies. Mainly a ranged fighter, Strife is good for dealing with enemies that War may not be able to reach, and the balance between the two brothers is crucial to completing the roughly 14-hour campaign.
Co-op play is as easy as a press of a button and whether you play in solo mode or with a friend, playing as either Horseman is fun and frantic. Playing co-op is as easy as creating a session at a rune that activates online co-op or local. In addition, Strife and War come with their own collectables to find, including health and upgrades, as well as abilities and skins to discover. By doing this, you’re likely to play through each level again and grab as many items as possible. I found myself circling back after completing the story and doing my best to find as much loot as I could in each area.
Give me those Creature Cores!
And if that isn’t enough, Creature Cores, which are dropped by enemies, are found throughout each level. These items are randomly dropped and buff your skill tree, and their effects being stackable as you earn more. Vulgrim offers them as well when you go to him to see his wares, and you can find them in the Arena as well. With some, you can reduce the cooldown on abilities, gain extra health, or increasing damage output against enemies.
I enjoyed my time with Darksiders Genesis, however, the extra time between the PC and Stadia release should’ve included some quality control. Through my playthrough, I would come into a situation where my character was obscured and out of the picture. Even with a blue highlight telling me where I was during a fight, it was hard to tell what was around me in some cases and Strife or War would find themselves taking on enemies that I couldn’t see.
Darksiders Genesis is a whole lot better than I expected it to be. I’ve been one foot in and one foot out with the series since Darksiders 2 but always enjoyed the lore and characters far more than the narrative. That said, Genesis is an excellent detour for the series and one that offers exciting combat, great character moments, and replayability. Adding a new perspective allows the series to breathe a bit as the developers work on the next mainline title, which I’m sure if already in the works. Aside from the weak story, Genesis is a solid entry for the franchise and a blast to play.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]