REVIEW – It’s unusual to see the fourth game of a franchise, Darksiders Genesis act as a prequel to the first three titles. At least Darksiders is alive and kicking, and this time, it’s a not numbered Diablo clone is what was published by THQ Nordic.
It’s recommended for those who have someone to play with, as Airship Syndicate emphasised co-op here.
Horseman of the Apocalypse IV (as in Roman number four, not intravenous)
Darksiders Genesis (and not Mega Drive… the game’s title will always remind me of SEGA’s 16-bit console…) introduces us the fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse, called Strife. He isn’t going to be alone in this Diablo-styled, isometric angle-using game, as you can switch between using Strife and War (who might be familiar if you have played the first game) if you happen to play alone. Between the two Horsemen, I liked the dialogue, as War was mostly stoic, while Strife managed to pull off some quips – their personality is built up nicely here. War’s fighting style could be recognisable if you remember the first Darksiders from nearly a decade ago – he’s mostly designed to be slow, take hits, but dish damage nicely as a tank.
Meanwhile, Strife’s approach can be compared to twin-stick shooter games, attacking from a distance. This difference between the two characters’ fighting stance offers variety in the gameplay, which also has some pace that you should recognize and feel early in the game. However, to achieve that, don’t be afraid of the game itself in the early hours. There are also some puzzle elements, which seems to nod at Valve to an extent: while Strife is capable of creating portals, War can break things. Solving these puzzles feel better in co-op as well, and while I’m at this subject, I’d also like to mention that it is not online only; you can also play split-screen, local co-op, too. Several developers should take notes here – local, couch co-op is something you should NOT avoid!
Darksiders Genesis’ maps are worth taking slowly to find stray paths, as they aren’t as linear as you’d think. Why? Because you can find some extra skills that could forge your gameplay style further (each Horseman can get something), even though your abilities will improve throughout the game by default: by defeating some certain enemy types, you will get Creature Cores, which can be used to upgrade your characters.
Why is accessing co-op much harder than what we should expect nowadays? No, there’s no such thing as some easy approach, such as a drop-in, drop-out system. Nope, instead, you have to find these weird stones on the maps to start co-op… but they are not always put at the start of each level, or in the hub worlds. If you manage to get through this issue, then comes the other hoop, namely the problematic camera. Multiple times, I have experienced my characters being blocked and not seen, resulting in me dying, as I didn’t know when to dodge or what to dodge, making me see the game over screen more times than deserved.
Then, if you get to the platformer sections, which isn’t abused thankfully, you can prepare to die here, too, as you might see Strife and War fall off a few times. Here and there, the game closed on me without any warning. Other times, the enemies simply forgot to spawn, resulting in a soft lock. These are the reasons why Darksiders Genesis does not deserve an eight out of ten, which could have been achieved… or not if you are a maximalist: a few story missions might have to be repeated to unlock and access everything, as the in-game currency prices are somewhat hefty. You can then try your new moves in the arena against even some minibosses, who happen to be a bit… repetitive. Some variety would have been healthy.
Sixteen divided by two, minus one
Darksiders Genesis should have received a bit more attention, as it had the potential to be far better, and I think I understand now why the console ports have been delayed. It’s not perfect, and due to its issues, I can only give this game a seven out of ten, but at least Airship Syndicate’s title built the franchise even further. If you have someone else to play this game with, add a 0.5 to my score, so it should be a 7.5 out of 10.
Co-op usually means having fun with each other, banter, resulting in a better experience, and it makes the grinding less boring, plus – as the story is decently long, mind you – we can add that the boss fights are also entertaining. Yet, why did they have to copy FromSoftware? Foggy doorways, potions? Eh, whatever. It’s good, and Darksiders IV (you can bet that it will happen in the next-gen, as it’s one of the key THQ Nordic franchises…) might show a memorable experience that the first game had, as in my opinion, until Genesis, the series was on a downhill spiral (the first one was the best, the second was alright, the third one not so much). Buy this game for half price.
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+ Co-op, gameplay
+ Its rhythm
– The execution of the co-op system
– The camera
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Genre: Action, RPG
Release date: December 5, 2019