Title: Darksiders: Genesis
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Hack and Slash
Official Site: Darksiders.com
Release Date: PC and Stadia (December 5, 2019) Xbox One, PS4, and Switch (February 14, 2020)
Version Tested: PC
The Darksiders series is now one of the more long-running series in video games. Despite that, Darksiders Genesis is one that stands out from the pack. Before now, every game in this franchise had been a kind of third-person shooter. Even if players weren’t really doing any shooting.
Swords and magic have long been the weapons of choice. That continues in the newest release. However, guns have come to the franchise as well in the form of Strife, the newest anti-hero to enter the fray. This is also the first game in the series that features more than one main character.
The game opens with players being able to take the reins of either Death or Strife, and the two heroes have different powers and abilities that will prove useful in battle. The big difference between this game, and every other game in the series, is, of course, the point of view.
Darksiders Genesis has you playing from the top-down perspective. This makes it look as though it’s a combination of Darksiders and Diablo III.
This allows for a different look at the entire map. This also allows the game to feel like it’s a genuinely fresh take.
Darksiders 3 wasn’t a particularly bad game. But it wasn’t a great game either. It was, more of the same. By going with a completely different point of view in this fourth installment, Airship Syndicate and THQ Nordic could be jumpstarting the series.
Different Look, Different Story
If the change of perspective isn’t different enough for you, the basic story is quite different too. You aren’t fighting for humankind anymore. You’re not trying to get demons off of the earth.
This time around, you’re in some hell dimension, fighting your way through hordes of baddies. By setting the game in a different world, this also allows for a new approach.
It might seem like a no-brainer for Darksiders Genesis to do this kind of thing since it is the fourth installation, but other studios might have tried to go with what they know.
The setting being very different, as well as the POV and the graphical design all being different, make this feel like a new ISP instead of the continuation of the old one.
Only the return of Death and his kind of stone-headed approach to everything reminds you this is an existing franchise. That’s a good thing. Having grown bored with the series, I enjoyed the freshness of this. That’s after coming in a bit wary of the new look.
Fighting through hordes of demons is the part of Darksiders Genesis that is very familiar. Of course, the approach is a bit different thanks to the point of view being different. One of the most entertaining parts of the game is when you are smacking the demons around and get to hit the B button in order to once and for all ’em down.
When you’re playing as Strife, you get to stick a gun in the face of enemies whose health has been diminished. This particular finisher is plenty of fun to pull off, even amid a horde of enemies, all trying to get a piece of you.
Death has his own finishing move, though it’s based more on his sword. Strife’s finishing shot has a special kind of oomph that is quite satisfying. Pair that with the character’s dialogue, which is quite a bit snappier than any of the other characters in the series, and he’s easily the most likable of the bunch.
The fact that he’s blasting holes in enemies is a nice bonus. Strife feels quite a bit like a Cayde-6 type personality in Destiny 2. He doesn’t wisecrack quite to Cayde-6’s level, but he does manage to bring some light and humor to a series that leans heavily on … being heavy.
The change of tone while still killing as many enemies as cross your path is plenty of fun.
Getting Lost in the Game … Literally
If there is one significant drawback to the new format, it has to be how the maps work. While your characters will be able to get their hands on a map relatively early in the game, they’re not all that helpful.
In what was clearly a design choice, Darksiders Genesis maps don’t have an icon for the player’s location. There are icons for all the chests and other items on a level but no easy way to know where you are in the world.
There are secondary ways to tell. Parts of the map will blink when you are in that section. Unfortunately, the sections are rather large and usually cover one end of the map to the other.
What the map does is check off a chest or item once you claim it. Using that, you can get an idea of where you are, but it becomes hard to pinpoint.
While it seems this was intentional, adding a degree of difficulty, it also seems pointless. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out where I’d been to figure out where I was going. Backtracking becomes a thing that is all too easy, especially since the levels tend to have very few points of reference besides the items and chests.
Verdict: Darksiders Genesis gives the long-running series a shot in the arm by introducing a new character and a unique point of view to play. The devs pulled it off and put together an excellent game that could have been a little bit better with a tweak here and there.
Darksiders Genesis Review
- Cool new spin on the series
- Some decent back and forth between Death and Strife
- Combat is a blast
- Story leaves something to be desired
- The map system sucks