Darksiders Genesis Review
In a major departure from the rest of the franchise, Darksiders Genesis is a top-down, button-mashing action game that follows War and Strife, two of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. While the series has received much praise for its storyline, humour and simple but addictively fun gameplay – there was much uncertainty around how the new top-down style would translate to the franchise. Will this major change be a smooth transition or will it detract from an already stellar series? Let’s take a look and find out!
Darksiders Genesis follows to of our familiar anti-heroes, War and Strife. Once again under orders from the mysterious Council, the Horsemen work in the shadows to maintain the Balance – the intangible force that prevents the world from plunging into chaos. The Balance is once again at risk as Lucifer has been consorting with other demons and other-worldly figures for his own nefarious purposes.
Released on Stadia and PC last December, current-gen console gamers had to wait until this Valentine’s Day (February 14th) to continue the Horsemen’s saga. As mentioned, Genesis plays as a completely different style from all other Darksiders games. Developers have never been afraid to adapt Darksiders titles, making many significant changes between each iteration of the franchise.
The core elements are thankfully still present in Genesis, notably the witty, sarcastic humour and hack-and-slash combat. Apart from the Horsemen themselves, there are yet other familiar faces that have made their return in the latest release of the series. Vulgrim has made his return and will still offer health and other bonuses in exchange for the souls of your defeated foes. New and upgraded abilities are also available for purchase, allowing you to increase the survivability and lethality of our protagonists.
I know it has already been mentioned, however I cannot help but dwell on the change of style. It seems like a needless change, although it may be one of the concessions made to enable two-player local co-op, as the hardware limitations of graphically intense games are often a limiting factor in co-op capabilities. Even taking co-op into consideration, it is an odd decision to modify something as central to the game as the style with which you play. At best, it does not hinder gameplay too much while not offering any specific benefit and at worst, its angle-lock is annoying and the levels begin to blend in to one another, making it difficult at times to determine what is and is not a surface for you to jump and land on.
The combat itself is simplistic but still enjoyable, made much more fun by hopping into co-op where you will not have to swap between Horsemen but instead you will each control either War or Strife. The puzzles in Darksiders Genesis are equally simplistic, but not equally enjoyable. Certain areas will require players to wander aimlessly until stumbling into the correct area which contains the item that enables you to complete said area.
On Switch, the fluidity and graphics do not feel as smooth and sharp as other titles for the console, compounded by the top-down, angle locked style. There are plenty of collectibles, souls and other materials to collect in each level; however there is virtually no emphasis placed on obtaining them. I was barely motivated enough to grab the boatman coins as I saw them, let alone spend an extra 10-15 minutes searching every nook and cranny of each level looking to gather each and every one for the small boost it will offer.
Each chapter is designed as a fairly-linear dungeon level, broken up only by the aforementioned paths to collectibles and puzzles that rarely require anything more than 30 seconds to solve. These chapters inevitably lead to an over-sized boss monster, almost all of whom can be quickly dispatched with exclusive use of Strife’s ranged attacks and dodges.
In the end, I can appreciate the efforts made to keep the Darksiders franchise moving forward and adapting to the gaming environment of the time, I just feel that too much had to be sacrificed to enable a top-down, co-op experience as far as level complexity and graphic quality are concerned. While still a fun game, there is plenty of room for improvement. For hardcore Darksiders fans and co-op fanatics this purchase is a no-brainer, everyone else may want to think twice before committing to this title.
For more information on Darksiders Genesis, visit: https://darksiders.com/