Call your horse and get ready to saddle up as it’s once again time to ride into the apocalypse. Darksiders Genesis is the latest entry in what I feel like is one of the most underrated franchises over the course of the past couple generations. This latest entry is brought to us by THQ Nordic but it wasn’t made by Gunfire Games who handled Darksiders 3. Instead, developer Airship Syndicate took the helm on Genesis and with a new developer comes a new take on the established franchise. Rather than focus on being an action/adventure title like the past three entries Darksiders Genesis instead is closer to a Diablo title and this time you don’t have to be alone in the apocalypse.
One of War’s quotes at the end of the original Darksiders game was “No, not alone” and that is exactly right when it comes to Darksiders Genesis. The entire game is playable in two-player co-op either locally or online with one player controlling War and the other player controlling Strife who is the only horsemen who hasn’t been playable in a game until now. If you play the game by yourself then you can swap between the two at any time. As for the game it is more of a top-down dungeon crawler now so if you’re a fan of games like Diablo you may be interested in this. The story this time around doesn’t take place during the events of the first game like the past three entries have but instead takes place prior to the first game. The Charred Council has sent War and Strife on a mission to hunt down the Demon King Lucifer because he is a threat to the Council and must be stopped. The story in the game is fine but with it not really playing a part in the story from the first three games it was hard to care a lot about it. Still there are some fun returning characters to see such as the shopkeeper Vulgrim as well as Samael. There are also some interesting new characters such as another vendor named Dis. Most of these characters you’ll find in the hub world in the game which you’ll return to between missions to talk to the people there, shop at the vendors, and perform some upgrades.
As you explore the eleven different campaign missions you’ll come to grips with both horseman. Both War and Strife play differently from each other with War being a more close range fighter and Strife being better suited to long range with his two guns. Strife is a little more versatile than War though as he can fight close range too if he has to where as War has no long range options. War’s moves and attacks are very similar to what he had in the original Darksiders game. Strife on the other hand has unlimited normal ammo for his guns and can also gain special other types of ammo. Some of these are better against certain types of enemies but when using the special ammo types you only have so many shots before you’re out.
The controls in the game felt great to me and made it easy to hack away at enemies or shoot them from afar while dodging out of the way when I had to. When you weaken enemies you can pull off some pretty sick and over the top finishing attacks which helped keep things fresh. At certain points in the campaign you’ll face off against a big boss enemy many of which bring some new mechanics to the fight. Adjusting to these new mechanics and using everything you’ve learned to that point is key in order to defeating them. Finishing the campaign took me almost 12 hours which for a budget priced game is a pretty good length. There are also plenty of reasons to keep playing afterwards whether it be to upgrade your characters or to take on the Apocalyptic difficulty that unlocks upon beating the game once. There is also a horde mode where you are put into an arena and have to fight wave after wave of enemies in order to get the best score you can. Doing well here also rewards you with some exclusive stuff so it can be worth jumping into.
When you’re not fighting enemies in the game you’ll be doing a bit of puzzle solving and platforming. Puzzles consist of a lot of familiar things from past games such as figuring out how to flip some switches or levers. Platforming works fine although the top-down view can make it hard sometimes to judge jumps correctly. Every level is large and it’s worth exploring to find hidden stuff along the way. Some areas can only be explored once you’ve gained a certain ability so it’s worth playing through again to see what new area you can unlock. Sadly the in game map is not very useful at all for gaining your bearings. It really doesn’t do a good job of showing you where you are at or how to get where you need to go.
War and Strife each have their own skill tree that you can dive into as you play. You also gain new abilities for them while playing and defeating enemies. Creature Cores are something you can get from enemy drops or from completing quests and they give you different passive bonuses when you equip them. These can include more health or things like taking reduced damage. You can also upgrade each core to make the effect it bestows even stronger. Each character has a power level that steadily goes up as you improve them and each mission in the game has a power level associated with it. This makes it easy to know whether you’re strong enough to take on that mission or if you need to spend some more time improving.
The graphics of the game playing on a PlayStation 4 Pro looked colorful and sharp. There are a lot of varied locations you’ll traverse through on your journey to stop the demon king. Snowy mountains, creepy forests, majestic castles and so on are all on display here. The framerate in the game is smooth most of the time but at other times it can be a bit of a mess. Even though I played this on a PlayStation 4 Pro I ran into issues when there were a lot of enemies on the screen. At these times having the game stutter and freeze for brief periods was not uncommon and it did kind of hurt what is overall a smooth playing game otherwise.
When it comes to the audio I’ll talk about the voice acting first. War is once again voiced by Liam O’Brien while Strife is voiced by Chris Jai Alex. Both voice actors delivered great performances and the two opposite personalities of the horsemen creates some good moments. We of course know War as the serious type by now but Strife comes in with a more comedic attitude which helps offset the seriousness of his brother. Some of the dialogue can be a bit corny but I got several laughs out of the back and forth between War and Strife. The music was also really good and the game has some satisfying sound effects when in combat. As for the trophy list it has 31 in total including a Platinum. Getting them all will likely take around 30 hours or so as you’ll have to beat all of the levels on Apocalyptic which is only unlocked after beating the game. The list doesn’t ask you to do really anything difficult outside of that and rather steers more towards a completionist angle.
Darksiders Genesis may not be the continuation of the story that many of us are waiting for but its attempt at taking an established franchise and turning it into a fun dungeon crawler was successful. Both War and Strife are fun to use in this game and there is plenty of content here to ride through. It has some performance issues throughout and the story isn’t as interesting as other entries but everything else here is an apocalyptic good time.
*Darksiders Genesis is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- War and Strife each have their own unique playstyle and personality
- Fluid and dynamic combat system
- Meaty campaign that offers reasons to replay
- Levels are large and reward you with exploring
- Great visuals, voice performances, and music
- Framerate stutters and drops at times
- Story isn't as interesting as past games
- Map could've been designed better