Darksiders Genesis Review
Darksiders,the series that places players in the roles of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is back with a new addition called Darksiders Genesis. In this new title out of Airship Syndicate (Developer) and THQ Nordic (Publisher) the third person action-adventure formula of previous games has been traded in for an isometric action-adventure game with a local and online co-op experience. Does this new Darksiders experience work? Read our full Darksiders Genesis review below.
What is Darksiders Genesis?
Darksiders Genesis is a prequel to the Darksiders series that follows War and Strife after the events of Eden. Unlike other games in the series this title is an isometric action-adventure game with emphasis on cooperative play. In this title War and Strife are tasked with pursuing Lucifer who is running rampant in Hell.
Developer: Airship Syndicate.
Release Date: December 5th, 2019 (PC/Stadia) + February 14th, 2020 (Consoles).
Platforms: PC, Google Stadia, Consoles.
Price: $29.99 USD.
Hours Played for Review: 10.
Game Beaten: No, reached Chapter 16.
Code Provided by Developers: Yes, by Airship Syndicate.
Darksiders Genesis World & Exploration Thoughts
In Darksiders Genesis you and a friend (or alone if you so desire) take on the roles of War and series newcomer Strife as you attempt to track down Lucifer in a journey through Hell. To complete the story you traverse a number of locations looking for loot and battling demons along your way.
The locations in Darksiders Genesis are separated into chapters. Each chapter is a large area with multiple smaller named areas inside it. Many of the locations are sprawling mult-floor designs that are so big you can use your horse to traverse the location.
In each location you are given a story objective and must explore to find out how to complete that objective to advance the story. There are also minor side objectives you can complete within each level that unlock various rewards. This rewards players for exploring each location deeper than they would to simply complete the story.
Once a chapter is completed you unlock the next chapter which is a new location. Previously completed chapters can be replayed to explore for collectibles and to complete side missions. While you spend time in these locations you take part in a number of general Darksiders activities like solving puzzles and platforming.
As you travel through each location you encounter a number of puzzles you must complete to advance into new areas of the level. These puzzles are solved using the different unique abilities of Strife and War. As you advance the game you unlock new abilities which allow you to solve new puzzles. This allows for a sort of metroidvania aspect to each location you visit as you will want to backtrack to unlock areas you couldn’t reach during an initial playthrough.
I liked many of the puzzles in Darksiders Genesis and enjoyed solving them for the most part. Each puzzle is simple enough as to not frustrate, but requires a little bit of brain power to complete. With that said there is a seemingly small pool of puzzles to solve in the game as there are only four abilities across both Strife and War that impact the game world. More diverse puzzles would have been welcome, but what’s there is still fun to play.
Platforming wise you spend a good portion of your time completing platforming sequences which use double jump, climbing, wall running, and gliding to cross gaps or climb higher. This platforming allows you to traverse various parts of the different levels and travel deeper into them. Since platforming is a major component of the game there is a nice sense of verticality in much of the level design as you will climb high above areas you once visited earlier in the level.
The platforming aspects of Darksiders Genesis were the most frustrating part of the game during my playthrough. Due to the camera angle many of the platforming sequences can be frustrating to complete as your perspective is sometimes blocked or not accurate at times. This is not a major gripe but should be noted if you dislike repeating platforming sequences over and over again to get right due to no fault of your own.
When not completing objectives or advancing the story you can spend your time looking for collectibles on each map. There is a ton of stuff to collect and it’s all pretty useful. This sort of reward for searching every nook and cranny of the map is appreciated as it is rewarding to spend the time finding the various collectibles I know makes my characters stronger.
Between exploring in each chapter you return to an area called The Void. This area serves as the hub and houses a few NPCs that sell you various items and upgrades. Within this hub you can learn bits and pieces of lore as well as access the portal to reach the game’s various chapters. The Void is also home to a number of secrets to discover which gives the hub a nice bit of mystery.
Overall I enjoyed the maps and exploration elements in Darksiders Genesis. Each map feels unique and well thought out. The backgrounds of a lot of the maps are brimming with interesting animations and unique designs that feel at home in the Darksiders world. There is also a ton of stuff to find and collect which I am a big fan of since I love finding and collecting things. This is especially true of items that have a tangible impact on gameplay like the majority of the collectibles do in this game. Barring some complaints I have with the puzzles and platforming, I can easily say Darksiders Genesis captures the feeling of older Darksiders games in both the look of the environments and in the deep exploration it encourages.
Darksiders Genesis Combat Thoughts
When you play Darksiders Genesis you will control either War or Strife. These characters are demon killing machines and you will do much of that throughout your playthrough. Like previous Darksiders games half of Darksiders Genesis is exploration and the other half is combat.
For starters both War and Strife handle differently when taking on demonic foes. War is your ground and pound tank style character that opts to deliver melee damage to his enemies using a very large sword. Strife in contrast dual-wields pistols and serves as a damage dealer that opts to stay out of the range of enemies to deal as much damage as possible. These two combat styles can be used cooperatively or solo (with solo switching between the two characters on demand).
Like other Darksiders games both War and Strife can be upgraded as you advance the story to increase their effectiveness in combat. Each character has a set of character unique abilities and combos that cater to their fighting styles. War gets abilities that make him more tanky and lethal at close range while Strife unlocks different ammo types and abilities that make him more slippery and more deadly on the battlefield.
Complimenting these abilities and combos is the Creature Core system. As the name suggests Creature Cores are items that drop off the various creatures you kill as you journey through Hell. Each creature has a specific core it can drop when killed with there being a total of 67 cores you can find. These cores serve as the game’s leveling system.
Like traditional leveling each Creature Core is designed to impact one of three categories on your character: Health, Attack, and Wrath. One Creature Core you acquire may boost your health by 2% when equipped for example. When you have a Creature Core you can slot it into the Creature Core tree (pictured above). Each slot has a type that when matched correctly results in a matching bonus that provides better stats. As you gather more of the same Creature Cores they level up, resulting in better benefits from that Creature Core. This makes farming enemies especially beneficially as more cores means more powerful characters.
Farming is something you are able to do a lot of thanks to the addition of the Arena. This unlockable combat-focused area is a 10 wave challenge that awards you with Arena Points which can be turned in for various prizes. These prizes directly benefit both War and Strife when unlocked. This means players that want to simply jump in and kill demons have a place to do it. As you progress through the chapters you unlock new Arena challenges that award more points. These Arena challenges can be replayed as much as you like meaning you could spend a ton of time getting Arena points and prizes.
While I’ve addressed a lot of the combat above, there is one aspect I should touch on before wrapping up and that’s enemy variety. In Darksiders Genesis there is a surprising amount of enemy variety after the first few chapters. I was pleasantly surprised to be encountering new enemies all the way to close to the game’s end. This is true from the minor enemies all the way up to the major boss fights. Many of the enemies feel interesting and unique to fight.
Overall I found Combat in Darksiders Genesis to be interesting and diverse with plenty of nice Darksiders touches to remain true to the series. When you start your playthrough you have a limited number of abilities and combos at your disposal. As you make your way through the various chapters in the game you can purchase more abilities and more combos to unleash on the demons you encounter. You really feel like your characters become more powerful as the game progresses.
One important note I will state is that during my playthrough I found myself largely sticking with Strife as my main character. That’s not to say I didn’t play War at all I just found the movement and skill set of Strife to be much more conducive to the fast paced combat Darksiders Genesis throws at you almost constantly. War just seemed too slow and less hard-hitting to really be effective in most of the combat scenarios I encountered.
Darksiders Genesis Story Thoughts
Much of the story of Darksiders Genesis is told through a mix of dialogue, journal entries, and cartoon cutscenes. This story delivery does a good job of telling the prequel story here. All the dialogue and cutscenes are fully voiced which is a nice bonus for a $30 game.
I’m not an expert on Darksiders lore and story, but what I got here was enjoyable. The story is interesting and was fun to uncover. Couple that with the return of some fun NPCs from previous Darksiders games and you have an interesting story ride that lasts about 15+ hours. Also not iff you liked the jokes in previous Darksiders games the writing here is similar.
I’ve touched on most of the major portions of the game and typically like to close on what I call miscellaneous thoughts. These are things that I feel should be highlighted but not in their own section. Under this heading you will find things like visuals, controls, stability, and sound design.
I really liked the visuals in Darsksiders Genesis. I found the art style to be pleasing both in game and during the cutscenes. While it may not be for everyone I like the cartoony look Airship Syndicate decided to use on this title.
Options wise players can control a number of things on PC such as V-Sync, Anti-Aliasing, Texture Quality, Post Processing, Shadow Quality, and FX Quality.
Controls is something I figured needed to be mentioned since this title is designed largely with controller in mind (there’s a message at the start of the game). While you can play the game with M+KB, it is really meant to be played on a controller at this point in time. Airship Syndicate has said they are refining the M+KB profile for future releases so keep that in mind if you are looking at picking this up day one.
On Ultra setting I got solid performance out of Darksiders Genesis at 1920×1080. There was really nothing of concern from a stability standpoint during my playthrough.
I found the music and sound design in Darksiders Genesis to be pretty solid. Like I mentioned earlier the fact there are voice actors in this title at $30 is a very nice addition.
While there are a few missteps in puzzle variety and camera angles, overall I found Darksiders Genesis to be a solid addition to the Darksiders series. Much of the DNA from the previous games has been translated over to this new entry with a nice design twist. If you’re a fan of Darksiders games or isometric games in general there is something here you will like. For $30 you will get hours of entertainment exploring the various levels, collecting the different collectibles, killing demons for their Creature Cores, learning more about War and Strife, and spending time in the arena.