Title: Darksiders Genesis
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre: Action, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 14/02/2020
Price: £34.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
The End of Nephilim
Darksiders as a series of games is steeped in multi-platform history, spanning 10 years of gaming from the Playstation 3 Generation, to the Wii U, to the current PS4 generation and now the Nintendo Switch. The development history has been tumultuous with origin studio Vigil Games going bankrupt in 2012 alongside parent company THQ, not to mention the somewhat poor reception of Darksiders III back in 2018. With this in mind, Darksiders Genesis feels like a wholesome rebirth for the series, taking its form as a prequel to the journey so far, and making many necessary changes for the better.
Darksiders as a series tells the tale of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse, who are appointed by the Council to maintain the balance across all existence. The great strength appointed to these Angel and Demon hybrids came at a grave cost and resulted in a great war to destroy all others of their kind. These 4 horsemen are War, Death, Strife and Fury, and in Darksiders Genesis, you get to take control of our two protagonists War and for the very first time in the series Strife.
Under the guidance of the council, in Darksiders Genesis War and Strife are appointed to foil the plot of the Demonic King Lucifer himself, and expose the twists and turns in this narrative as you begin to untangle a conspiracy that takes us right back to the very start.
This reset moment in the series tale is also met with a reset moment for the format and style of the game. Traditionally Darksiders games have been a 3rd person action style, and whilst this format has never felt lacking there’s an incredibly refreshing feel to Darksiders Genesis with its Diablo-style angled camera that feels more dungeon crawler than anything else. It feels so much more immersive, with a far-reaching and detailed map to explore as you traverse the hellish landscapes. The team have done an excellent job of encouraging the player to explore every nook and cranny of the map without it feeling tedious or repetitive, it’s moreish I must say and feels rewarding in every since with loot galore.
Strife as a wise-cracking dual-wielding new addition to the series is welcoming and forms an interesting duo with the stoic presence of War. War as ever feels ever so similar to Drax in the Guardians of The Galaxy series with his dryly formulaic responses forming often the most comedic aspects of the game without any intention behind his words. For me, this is a sign of great writing and I enjoyed each dialogue boxes appearance throughout.
Two Is Better Than One
Having the opportunity to utilise both characters across the game was really enjoyable with an abundance of difference in how they operate and how best to utilise them. Strife had a multitude of ammo types across his gun-tooting battle style and is naturally suited to operating at a distance from his enemies. This was particularly useful against large enemies that would much rather give you a battering at close quarters.
As for War with his ridiculously large swinging sword allowed the player to dodge, dip, duck, dive and dodge each enemy, followed up with a deadly swing of his weapon to decimate all at closer proximity. The difference in the two really comes into play later in the game, with the punishing onslaught of enemies teasing the players need to leverage both characters effectively to stand a chance of progression against Lucifers hoard.
The combat has an incredible depth of complexity, that takes time to conquer with punishing combos, finishers and the ability to build overpowered attacks through button mashing. It’s rewarding once conquered but takes a relentless graft to get there.
Don’t Take Node For An Answer
The system used for level ups and character progression in Darksiders Genesis is layered and interestingly unique with its Creature Cores skill tree. Throughout the game, as you defeat bosses, you collect smaller and major cores which are slotted into progression nodes. This workflow awakes surrounding nodes, like power surges within the tree, and it feels addictive in its way of encouraging you to unlock new abilities and perks. Trust me it’s addictive and pushes the players to explore, explore, explore.
A Path Of Obscurity
As you free-roam the map as Strife and War there are definitely moments where you can become lost in the mayhem, and viewing on the Nintendo Switch display can leave the action feeling a little zoomed out. I can think of several times where for a few seconds I have had to search for my location in the madness of battle and I don’t feel the game adequately lights up your location when needed. Also at times when your characters head behind a cliff face or path obscured, you can see a glowing outline of your character, to which you may be engaging in battle with a demon you cannot see and have to guess your button mashing will achieve the desired outcome. This is where the lack of revolving camera can let the game down as this occurs a few too many times across the game.
Some clever additions for the game include Online Co-Op, with the option to have a friend or random connected and taking the reigns of Strife or War alongside your playthrough. I’d love to say I had the best experience here, but in all, it was a little buggy, glitchy and laggy and felt counter-intuitive to the pace of the action at hand. I really hope this can be remedied by the developer in time.
The majority of my playback of the game was handheld and played on a switch lite. I experienced very little in terms of performance issues during my playthrough, and although an obviously lower frame-rate, when the action ramped up the console kept up, bravo for the execution by the developer here.
All in, Darksiders Genesis is for me probably the better execution of this incredibly fun series. The story is well executed and deeply enjoyable, with structured and immersive writing, engaging puzzles and skull crushing combat. What it lacks at times in design it makes up for in raw and unapologetic fun and would be a great addition for anyone that would like to blend the dungeon crawling style of the Diablo series with a far more comprehensive and engaging style of combat that will send you straight to hell.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Darksiders Genesis from the eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Darksiders-Genesis-1711704.html#Overview
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.