Darksiders: Genesis Review (PC)

The biggest merit of Darksiders: Genesis is that for the first time in the history of the franchise we get to play Strife, the only rider of the apocalypse who isn’t featured in any of the previous games. There’s no doubt that the spinoff does a lot of things right, but there are things that I wished there were different.

Darksiders: Genesis tells the story of War and Strife from before the first Darksiders game. If you’ve played at least one of the three Darksiders games, you’ll recognize most of the NPCs appearing in Genesis. We have a new main antagonist now – Lucifer who has allied with many demons to break the Balance across existence.

The Charred Council, the entity responsible for maintaining the balance and order in the universe by preventing a single celestial creature from becoming too powerful, gives War and Strife a new assignment that involves some detective work on top of hacking and slashing. It appears that Lucifer, The Dark Prince has been plotting to break the Balance by granting power to master demons throughout Hell.

War and Strife must hunt down these demons, gather information, and fight their way through a demonic conspiracy of humongous proportions. The main problem is that not all demons have allied with Lucifer, so it’s up to you to find out who’s the real enemy.

Darksiders: Genesis

Darksiders: Genesis is an action-adventure game that plays from a top-down perspective. The game is more akin to twin-stick shooters when you play as Strife, but immediately reverts to a hack’n’slash formula when you switch to War.

Each of your Nephilim has their unique powers and abilities that you’ll be able to unlock as you progress the story. Apart from that, there’s an interesting Creature Core system that gives you bonuses to Health, Wrath and Attack Power whenever you slot core pieces and link them together. Each core that drops from a monster has a keyword like health or wrath, so it must be placed in the right slot for a massive matching bonus.

Then there are weapon, health, and wrath enhancements, as well as Souls and Boatman Coins that you can use to buy even more upgrades for improved efficacy. It’s a well-designed progression system that replaces the traditional level upgrade through souls features in the other three Darksiders games.

Combat is fast-paced and almost similar to the Darksiders series but slightly reworked to fit the top-down perspective. Even so, you’ll immediately learn War is the Hulk of the party while Strife is Loki, a more agile fighter that shoots bullets from afar. All moves are specific to each character like War’s block move which is replaced with a dodge when you play Strife.

Playing the game with a friend is much more rewarding since you can complement each other’s moves, something that’s impossible when playing solo, even if you’re able to switch characters on the fly.

Although it’s squishier than War, Strife can dish out a lot of damage with his guns, especially when he’s in rage mode and can shoot much faster. He’s also able to switch between various ammo types that are more or less powerful, but usually suitable for various scenarios. He has three abilities that can be unlocked throughout the first chapters of the game, just like War.

The combat is indeed a lot of fun, but since everything is so small on the screen, you won’t see what’s hitting you, but at least you’ll be able to see your character. Getting a well-timed block with War is almost impossible, not to mention that many of the abilities seem more like a filler. Most of the time you’ll be using the basic combos and, rarely, one or two abilities, but that’s about it.

But combat is not the only place where the two characters differ from one another. They have exactly opposite personalities, which makes each conversation between the two hilarious. The writing is decent and the art style perfectly matches the comics, something that I absolutely loved.

The game is split into 16 chapters and at the end of each you’re given a report of all the secrets and you’ve found and what you missed so that you can come back whenever you want. Some items in the early chapters require certain abilities that you’ll be able to buy later on, but they aren’t required for the main story.

Now, before you start a new chapter that game shows you the recommended power level for that chapter. However, I did ignore it and I had no trouble finishing each chapter on Normal difficulty, but the closer to the recommended level you are, the easier the fights.

Darksiders: Genesis

The Good

  • Darksiders-style combat mechanics
  • Great progression system
  • Interesting story and characters
  • Satisfying co-op gameplay
  • Clever puzzles, amazing dungeon design

The Bad

  • Bad camera angles in some situations
  • Lacks minimap
  • Many powers and abilities feel like filler

Conclusion

There are many things that I wish Airship Syndicate would have done differently, but Darksiders: Genesis is definitely a title worth picking up. It’s no Darksiders 4 and lacks the polish of any of the previous Darksiders games, but it’s got the flavor, the pace and the combat mechanics that made the franchise popular among gamers.

There’s a compelling story underneath all the hacking and slashing, with interesting characters and extremely well-done level design. The puzzles are very clever, something that I would expect from a Darksiders game, and there’s simply a lot of content to enjoy throughout a nearly 15-hour playthrough.

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