A decade since the first Darksiders game landed on consoles, Genesis arrives bringing with it the fourth horseman – Strife. Developed by Airship Syndicate and published by THQ Nordic, Darksiders Genesis is a spinoff prequel to the series.
AT A GLANCE
Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platforms: Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows(Reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: 5th December 2019 for PC and Stadia, 14th February for other consoles
While Darksiders 1 and 2 was inspired by the Zelda series and 3 was more souls-like, Genesis takes elements from top-down looter games like Diablo.
For starters, it’s no longer in third-person, instead, Genesis has an isometric view. There’s also “loot” in the form of creature cores, that allow you to unlock passives and boost your stats. Missions are spread across levels that can be accessed from the hub world, which is also where vendors sell you upgrades.
But even though Darksiders Genesis looks and feels like Diablo, at its core it still has enough of Darksiders in it to differentiate itself. Puzzles are spread across the levels and require you to use your tools to solve them. The Metroidvania nature of the previous games also returns, as you unlock new abilities you can backtrack to previously unreachable places to get items.
You control two of the Horsemen, War and Strife, the pale horseman. These two horsemen play and control differently, where War likes to get up close and personal, dishing out massive attacks with Chaoseater. Strife can kite enemies and deal damage from afar with his dual handguns.
Throughout the various level, you will come across additional ammo types and tools to help you out. For example, War gets his boomerang-like Vorpal blades, that he can use to chain together ranged attacks and solving puzzles.
The Creature cores that I mentioned earlier drop from defeating enemies. Normal mobs drop minor cores while bosses and elite mobs drop major cores. These cores can be slotted into your core tree, which acts as the main form of progression in the game. Cores come in three types – health, wrath, and attack, and slotting the correct core gives you bonus passives.
New moves can be unlocked by purchasing them from DIS, a vendor that you rescue in your missions. These additional moves can be chained together with your existing ones to deal increased damage. If fans were worried that the hack and slash elements from the previous games were going to be hampered, they can rest easy. Most of the moves return and are wonderfully executed even in the top-down camera mode.
You can swap between War and Strife at will when playing solo but Darksiders Genesis has a really fleshed out co-op mode. You can play in co-op with your friends, over the internet or locally using split-screen. Co-op mode lets you each control a different horseman, and puzzles are adjusted for the co-op gameplay.
Darksiders Genesis is set in the aftermath of the battle on Eden, where the Horsemen, destroyed their Nephilim brethren to maintain balance. After Lucifer, the dark prince of demons hatches a scheme to upset the balance, the Council sends two Horsemen War and Strife to prevent it.
Acting as a prequel to the original games, Genesis does a good job of expanding the lore and bringing back fan-favorite characters. The dialogues are well written and I found myself chuckling often at the banter between Strife and War, who have completely opposite personalities. War is a focused and disciplined warrior while Strife is a more laid back enjoying his job kind of horseman.
It’s hard to make an isometric game look good, due to the nature of its camera but Darksiders Genesis manages to impress. The levels are gorgeously done, with detailed distant scenery. Enemy models are very well done and reminiscent of the previous games. Strife and War themselves are well animated, and look great when moving about or attacking.
Cutscenes are delivered using hand-drawn cinematics and are beautifully done. It’s really applaudable that they managed to make the game look visually and aesthetically similar to the previous games despite a change in camera perspective.
Darksiders Genesis is an enjoyable entry into the Darksiders franchise that manages to mix things up while still keeping the core gameplay of the series intact. It has well-written dialogues, fantastic combat, and gorgeous visuals. The game can be short if you want it to, but completionists will find there’s a lot of things to do in this game.