No one expected Darksiders Genesis to unveil itself so soon. Gamers had just gotten off the saddle of Fury’s previous perspective on the ongoing end of the world. But here we are with another outing, and yet another horseman of the apocalypse.
Darksiders was birthed in the bubbling cauldron of aspiration to hybridize the action adventure genre. It has wandered a wavy line of being beloved, and yet sometimes greeted with the head tilt of confusion.
The quest of the four horsemen initially started with War. The stoic wall of muscle traveled the ruined lands of Earth in the search for who, or what, betrayed him. It was a great action romp that then birthed a sequel with Darksiders 2. To many, Death’s take was more of the same but with an unfocused narrative. It wanted to be many things but really didn’t sit down to focus on any one of its features.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
For many, Darksiders 3 is where things got a little complicated. If there is one thing we can admit, it’s that Fury’s tale in the hellscape had good intentions. Darksiders 2 & 3 didn’t really know what they wanted to be, but saw other kids doing something cool. It took yet another idea that works so well and did a so-so job of replicating it for its own means.
Previous titles played around with the ‘if it ain’t broke’ template of taking successful mechanics from games like God of War and The Legend of Zelda, and merging them to create a linear fantasy epic that could gradually improve through further entries. For the most part, this was true in its sequel Darksiders 2. But from cooking in development, this second title lost its way through over-ambition.
Darksiders Genesis will be the franchise’s fourth title. From the outside it looks to drop the third person perspective for the fourth and final horseman by bringing something more compact, and in some ways downloadable.
In Genesis the field of view is changed for the asymmetrical one liking to more western RPGs like Diablo, Baldur’s Gate and even previous developer Vigil’s Battlechasers. Darksiders seems destined to continue the path of a dungeon crawler, and in a sense its art style and narrative skeleton gives vibes that a change in direction is actually for the better.
Learn from the past
Darksiders 2 had a problem. Its constant star gazing to be more than it really could has shown us that cutting the narrative bridge in the favor of loot would make the adventure a little lost in grinding tedium. There is also the factor that games like this need to provide a certain level of quality within character development and fleshy cutscenes to really make it feel golden.
Games like Deathspank, Van Helsing and even Divinity: Original Sin, have proven that changing the camera angle can actually give developers a lot to play around with.
In a sense, THQ Nordic already have all the tools in their box. Ultimately this will be a cautionary tale to see if Darksiders can finally find its footing on a bridge missing a number of planks. We could give THQ Nordic the benefit of the doubt this time around, but with their current track record it makes you wonder if Genesis is birthed from true inspiration.
Darksiders Genesis has a chance to do something great thanks to its receded scale, and that’s because the developers are holding this game back. This doesn’t need to stall its ambitions, but at the same time Darksiders needs to grow up from constantly being a copycat.
Give It Personality in Characters & Questing
Darksiders has always fumbled a little with its side quests. Sometimes it wants to provide meaningful world building off the beaten path, and it wants to be a collectible gorge.
Making Darksiders Genesis yet another hybrid of tried mechanics will either be its salvation, or its continued curse. Really, this not only gives the game a chance to help revitalize a genre nearly lost in the past, but also properly carve out its only place in gameplay history.
As Genesis will be a smaller game in design it means we could see the characters communicate in text boxes akin to old Final Fantasy. This gives the developers a chance to create more content in its dungeon crawling. It also brings a lot of potential in meaty narrative without the need for planned camera cinematography.
Something Darksiders revels in is its use of bad-ass characters. The recent trailer spent little time stapling Strife as a threat with a mouth that fires just as fast as he shoots. Darksiders has also done well with its portrayal of villains, and again, this preview has reassured us that Strife’s adversaries are up to snuff.
A surprise is the addition of the series’ original hero, War, making a return as the assumed secondary playable character. This will be a first, seeing a selection of the horse siblings playable in unison, but the stoic wall that is War and the cocky chops on Strife mean we might get an interesting buddy-cop adventure.
Variety is Key
A highlight from the recent trailer was not only potential in narrative but also gadget implementation. Gadgets we have used throughout the series look to make a delightful return that feel akin to Square Enix’s top down Tomb Raider adaptations.
The grapple hook, glaive and DS2’s parkour all return to make the platforming feel as fun as possible. Thanks to these features all being great in previous games, it has every reason to make the puzzles more intelligent by mixing it into combat rather than relying on a ‘beat it til it’s dead’ monotony.
All the Darksider games so far have done well at giving its leads a strong set of skills; be it wielding magic, to flinging different types of weaponry at demon foes, all in different shapes and sizes. Top down classics like Titan Quest, Diablo 3 and even 2017’s Ruiner provided creatively gigantic pathways to better your character. Darksiders could learn from this, it has the idea but really it deserves to be bigger.
It’s All About Family
If there is one thing we can’t deny, it’s that the Darksiders narrative foundation is about family. Each story has been about bringing its four leads together and how they can solve the main problem one by one. Darksiders Genesis has every opportunity to scrap the loneliness of its predecessors. It has taken four games but now is the perfect time to bring them all together.
It is saddening that each Darksiders game has only given us a slither of what its like to bring all these characters together. We have always assumed that after each horsemen has had their own solo title that we would finally see the family together. Is this changing though? Is THQ Nordic breaking the chains of padding, because really, the existence of each sequel has always been based on the success of its sibling.
I just hope Darksiders Genesis can make its story more about the personal quest. It needs to look at the origin of what its trying to say and expand on it.
The only thing we can hope is that this is the right direction for the series. Darksiders has spent a lot of time discovering itself, so lets home it now sees the finish line.
You can read our Darksider’s 3 review here, while you wait for more from us on Darksiders Genesis.
Josh has been all across the industry as a writer, interviewer, video editor and game artist. You can usually find this fellow sat in front of his laptop with a coffee in one hand and a pet hedgehog being petted with the other. The guy has too many favorite games to count, so don’t ask him unless you came prepared with a packed lunch.