To call this a sequel to the third game in the Darksiders trilogy would be a bit of a stretch. I think the mantle of being called a spin-off instead is perfectly suitable for Darksiders: Genesis. This is because while the game is different in a sense of story and an all new perspective. However, at its very core, it’s still a good old Darksiders game that we know and love. Here’s an in depth look at the latest title from Airship Syndicate.
People have been comparing Darksiders Genesis a lot to the likes of games like Diablo in particular. Why? Because of the new perspective, one that saw our protagonists over an isometric field of view instead of the classic over the shoulder style of Darksiders. This comparison doesn’t hold true in any other regard besides the perspective and I’ll go into explaining that in better detail.
Firstly, let’s look at the playable characters. In this case, we get two characters to choose between instead of one. They are War, the protagonist from the first game, and Strife, a new character and the last horseman the games had yet to reveal.
The choice between playing them isn’t actually made before the game starts. Instead, it’s on the fly character switching that you can do for either your own preferred playstyles or to solve ability specific puzzles.
Of course, since there are two characters that players can choose from, they had to be incorporated into the game mechanics in more than just that way. This is why Darksiders Genesis achieves a milestone in the series by being the first Darksiders game to feature multiplayer. This is in the form of two-player co-op that can be done locally on the couch or online.
The multiplayer has either player pick their horseman and then simultaneously fight on the battlefield. The multiplayer is also what helped me to understand why the game’s perspective was switched to the way that it was. A splitscreen over the shoulder Darksiders would’ve been pretty messy even with today’s technology.
Besides just being different people, War and Strife also have very different playstyles that suit different kinds of players while simultaneously complimenting each other very well. This can be seen best in multiplayer but also on your own if you’re fast with the switch mechanic.
With War, you’ve got a tanky close range fighter who truly shines in the method of crowd control on hordes of enemies. This is because of his attacks hosting pretty girthy AoE effects that allow you to easily dismantle formations while soaking up the damage from them without a sweat.
On top of that, War has the ability to block which really comes in handy during boss fights. I also feel like he was a lowkey version of fan service for players of the first Darksiders. Not only because he was the original playable character, but also because he retains the same moves and most of the same weapons as well. With a few new additions to both, of course.
Strife is then your glass cannon long ranged speedster. What War gains in tanking and crowd control, Strife makes up for in outright almighty DPS. DPS translating to damage per second. Strife is able to dismantle opponents much quicker than War if he’s in the right hands.
This is thanks to a buff that allows you to boost the DPS you can put out based on how much damage you’re doing in a constant streak. The max level of this charge allows you to fire max charged shots as if they were normal ones. If I could summarize Strife, he’s mechanically a combined version of Zarya and Reaper from Overwatch. Deals a shitton of damage while building up a charge to do even more.
The gameplay is pretty much the same as good old Darksiders. It combines the elements of a slasher with a platformer, sprinkled with the lore of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. What’s not to like? The game does lack RPG elements but not in a bad way. The only types of upgrades you get in the form of earned tokens and cores are used to give you buffs and specific stat boosts. I did had a little fun while tinkering with the cores dropped by enemies as they offer a lot of variety how you can customize your character for combat. There are no hardcore builds so you have a freedom to select whatever you find fun.
The cores and tokens don’t actually increase your level or anything, since that concept doesn’t even exist in this game. It’s all about learning the combos, cutting your foes down and not falling to your death.
As far as the abilities for Strife and War are concerned, there isn’t much variety to them. You will unlock them over time as you progress through the story. Many of these skills are related to puzzles and don’t directly contribute to the combat. Personally, I found Strife to be more diverse than War, playstyle wise.
Speaking of which, it’s the verticality of this game that really set it aside from other Isometric games like Diablo. Sure, the camera angle is the same but almost nothing else is. Especially considering how rooted to the ground the other ismoetric games tend to be. This is why I find Darksiders Genesis to be its own game in its own right. This is combined with the classic combat and combo oriented slasher gameplay of the original games.
The level design is pretty reminiscent of a dungeon crawler. It just features a whole new layer of exploration due to the aforementioned verticality from before. Something this game manages to nail pretty well as all Darksiders games do. My only problem with Genesis in that regard was how hard the camera made it sometimes to line up a jump.
Each dungeon has a lot of exploring that also yields rewards to the player. Furthermore, the questline is riddled with puzzles that both War and Strife have to brainstorm and figure out. A pretty nifty albeit slightly overused stage layout we saw was the boss calling in a bunch of minions and taking the exact thing you came there to get sometimes. The puzzles can understandably be a bore to some people but I personally do like the time off that way.
Darksiders Genesis may not be a new standalone Darksiders title after 3 was released. However, the steps taken with this game while Airship Syndicate experimented were pretty progressive. The positive reaction to the game should encourage a sequel soon enough, or if not, another standalone game with the same style out of inspiration with the elements in this game.