It’s been a bit over a year since Darksiders III was released, and ever since then, fans of the series have been craving for more. While waiting for a new title, we did get Darksiders Warmastered Edition and Darksiders II Deathfinitive Edition released on Nintendo Switch this year. Now, we can finally get to play as Strife, and experience Darksiders like never before.
Development and reception
Darksiders Genesis was first announced by THQ Nordic in June 2019. The announcement teaser caught everyone by surprise since the game looked nothing like the former three Darksiders titles. Unlike traditional third-person action-adventure, Genesis decided to go with top-down camera style, similar to the one used in many popular action-RPGs like Diablo 3 and Path of Exile. Many fans of the series were questioning this decision but were regardless eager to see what innovations will this spinoff bring to the table.
Darksiders Genesis was developed by Airship Syndicate, the game studio known for developing Battle Chasers: Nightwar. Also, Airship Syndicate was formed by Joe Madureira and Ryan Stefanelli, two of the co-founders of Vigil Games. For those of you who don’t know, Vigil Games were the developers of the first two Darksiders games, so naturally, Airship Syndicate was more than familiar with the whole franchise.
The game was published by THQ Nordic on December 5, 2019, on PC and Stadia, with releases for Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch scheduled for February 14, 2020. So far, Darksiders Genesis was met with very positive criticism, earning favorable scores with both gaming audiences and critics.
The story of Darksiders Genesis is set prior to the events of the main series, so this spin-off serves as a prequel to the well-established setting of Darksiders. Throughout the course of the game, the players will take control of two of the iconic Horsemen – War and Strife, as they hunt down master demons who gained power from the Demon King, Lucifer. This upset The Balance, and it is up to Horsemen to deal with these master demons and restore things back to normal.
This is probably the most interesting and innovative aspect of Darksiders Genesis. The game switched from its traditional third-person action-adventure style to top-down action-RPG, similar in playstyle to other titles such as Diablo 3 and Path of Exile. However, while some of the parts of the gameplay are quite standard for the action-RPG genre, Darksiders Genesis is far from any usual action-RPG game. In fact, it plays more like an action-adventure (similar to previous Darksiders installments), just the camera is different, and the emphasis here is on ‘action’.
The game supports both single-player and multiplayer co-op. In single-player mode, you control both War and Strife, and you can freely swap between them while playing. Each of them comes with a unique set of moves and abilities. War plays quite similarly to original Darksiders. His attacks hit hard, he can easily obliterate groups of smaller enemies, and his special attacks will definitely bring a smile to your face every time you annihilate your opponents with them. He has the ability to block and he can also dash to avoid some dangerous enemy attacks, which is nicely tailored to the whole setting.
On the other side, this is the first time we see Strife as a playable character in Darksiders. Unlike War, Strife is much squishier, but his playstyle doesn’t involve rushing headlong into the enemy hordes. Instead, he can devastate enemies from afar with his guns. He can also dash away from enemies in order to keep his distance and avoid dangerous attacks. He can use different types of ammunition for his weapons, each useful for a certain situation. While Strife is a lot tricker and harder to play than War, once you get accustomed to his playstyle, you’ll definitely find playing with him very rewarding.
One of the most interesting gameplay aspects is the addition of some platforming elements. These are rarely seen in action-RPGs, but given that they are an integral part of every former Darksiders game, it was only natural to include them in Genesis. And honestly, they fit in greatly into the whole game. You will get the genuine feeling you are playing a Darksiders game, and not just another action-RPG.
As for the multiplayer, this is likely the best aspect of Darksider Genesis. You can choose to play either online co-op or split-screen. In multiplayer, some of the puzzles are different, for example on some occasions, you will need both players to simultaneously pull levers in order to advance further. Also, the addition of the split-screen is very welcome, especially if you plan on getting the game on consoles. As for the PC players, you have the option for one player to use a keyboard and mouse, and the other one to use a gamepad, or you can use two gamepads, which is even better. Also, the game should preferably be played on a gamepad, since the controls are optimized for it, and from the getgo, the game will tell you that. Frankly, this is only the issue for PC players, but it’s worth mentioning since Darksiders Genesis initially launched for PC and Stadia.
While some could argue that Darksiders Genesis isn’t really visually impressive game, it still manages to deliver a decent graphics quality. While Darksiders III is a better-looking game without a doubt, Genesis is definitely not too far behind in terms of visuals. Models for both War and Strife are polished and well-detailed, and most of the bosses look really amazing. Also, the animations and effects are very nicely done. However, one can’t fail to notice that the environment could be slightly more detailed and polished. Still, this won’t ruin your overall experience, so all in all, it’s not a major downside.
Now, this is where Darksiders Genesis truly excels. The feeling of running around, carving and slashing countless hordes of demons as War, or blasting them to smithereens as Strife cannot simply be described with words. The joy you feel whenever you obliterate dozens of enemies using your special attacks is immensely satisfying. Also, the feeling of playing co-op with a friend, especially in split-screen is very reminiscent of old school gaming back from the Sega Genesis era… hmm… Darksiders Genesis… probably just a coincidence…
All things considered, Darksiders Genesis is a must-play for all the fans of the series. When you factor in that this game is only priced at $29.99 for PC (which is half the price of most AAA games) and also that you’ll be given dozens of hours of fun and entertainment, the game is really worth every penny. And don’t worry about the top-down camera. Genesis is truly a Darksiders game, in every sense, and you will definitely feel it while playing.