Spanning over a decade the Darksiders franchise has always flew a little under the radar. The original Darksiders was released back in 2010 with sequels released in 2012 and 2018. The Darksiders franchise basically has players play as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse fighting to bring balance to the world as demons are trying to take control. Released late last year on PCs and late last week on consoles (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One) the latest game in the Darksiders franchise is Darksiders: Genesis. While the fourth game in the franchise Darksiders: Genesis is actually a prequel to the other games in the franchise. Darksiders is a franchise that I have wanted to try out for a while but haven’t had a chance to play yet. With Darksiders: Genesis being a prequel and the fact that it is a co-op hack ‘n slash game (a genre I really enjoy) I thought this was a good time to check out the franchise. Darksiders: Genesis may be a pretty big change from the franchise’s typical gameplay but the changes lead to a fun co-op hack ‘n slash experience.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Airship Syndicate and THQ Nordic for the review copy of Darksiders: Genesis used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
Darksiders: Genesis serves as a prequel to the events of the rest of the Darksiders franchise. Since their creation the Council has been in charge of maintaining the balance between angels and demons in the post apocalypse. To maintain this balance the council utilizes the Horsemen. After the battle on Eden where the Horsemen destroyed the other Nephilim they are given a new assignment. Lucifer strives to disrupt the balance which means that War and Strife are tasked with determining his plan. Can War and Strife successfully uncover the conspiracy in time to maintain the balance or will the world succumb to chaos?
For the first three Darksiders game the franchise was mostly known for its third person action hack ‘n slash gameplay. In Darksiders: Genesis the developers decided to take the franchise in a different direction. The game took the normal gameplay from the franchise and zoomed out a bit. Instead of a third person game the gameplay is now more of a top down hack ‘n slash game. In the game you will play as either War or Strife. War is more of a melee fighter while Strife relies more on ranged attacks. In the game you will play through a number of levels in order to reach the end and defeat the boss or retrieve an item you need for your quest. This is easier said than done as many demons as other enemies stand in your way. Thus a large majority of the gameplay involves you hacking, slashing, and shooting your way through the enemies that stand in your way. The combat is pretty much what you would expect from the hack ‘n slash genre. The game gives you a basic and heavy attack. You can also unlock various special abilities that have various cooldown periods. The combat ultimately comes down to a lot of button mashing while utilizing blocks and dodges to avoid enemy attacks.
While the combat is a majority of the gameplay, Darksiders: Genesis also features a few other mechanics taken from other genres. First the game features some basic platforming. The characters have a double jump and glide ability which is used to jump between platforms. The characters can also grab ledges and run along walls. The platforming mechanics are basically what you would expect from a typical platforming game. Along with the platforming mechanics comes some puzzle solving. Throughout the game you will unlock various abilities for the characters which are mostly used to solve various puzzles that you encounter in your journeys. None of these puzzles are particularly challenging and mostly rely on you figuring out how to use the characters’ abilities. Finally the game has some RPG elements. The characters will grow in power from defeating enemies. You will acquire currency which you can use to buy upgrades. You will also pick up creature cores which you can equip to increase the characters’ skills.
As I mentioned earlier I have never played the original three Darksiders games. Therefore I am coming into Darksiders: Genesis with little knowledge of the franchise. This also means that I can’t compare the game to the other games in the franchise. From the outside looking in I thought the change to the franchise’s gameplay was an interesting choice. Most franchises basically take the previous game in the series add on a new coat of paint, design some new levels, and call it a day. This works for a lot of franchises, but I applaud when a franchise tries something new. I can’t compare Darksiders: Genesis to the original games, but I thought it was an interesting gameplay experience.
At its core the game is a hack ‘n slash game. For most of the game you will be fighting hordes of enemies. This feels a lot like your typical hack ‘n slash game. It mostly revolves around mashing the attack buttons, but the game also relies on more dodging and blocking of attacks than your typical game from the genre. I enjoyed the combat like most hack ‘n slash games as it is satisfying tearing through hordes of enemies. What I found most intriguing about the game is that it added additional mechanics to the genre that you don’t typically see. Most hack and slash games have some puzzles but they are really basic. The puzzles in Darksiders: Genesis feel more reminiscent of a third person action game. They aren’t super difficult but they rely on more than just hitting a switch or standing on a button. Most hack ‘n slash games also include some basic platforming as you jump between platforms. The platforming is quite a bit more involved in this game as it reminds me more of a normal third person action game. Even the RPG elements are interesting as they add some unique ways to customize your characters.
While I haven’t beat the game yet I have enjoyed my time with it. The game may look like your typical hack ‘n slash game but it feels deeper. Like most games in this genre the game also includes a co-op mechanic (a first for the franchise). You can play the game single player, switching between the characters, but I would highly recommend playing the game with another player. I say this for two reasons. First the game is just more fun with another player. These type of hack ‘n slash games are always better when you have another person tag along for the ride. This is especially true as one character is more melee focused while the other is more ranged. There is also the fact that I think the game would be quite hard without a teammate. I think fans of the hack ‘n slash genre will have a lot of fun with Darksiders: Genesis especially if they have a friend that can tag along.
I really enjoyed playing the game co-op but it does create an issue for the game. The game has both online and couch co-op. I ended up playing the game couch co-op. Most of the time the couch co-op works pretty well. The problem is that the camera doesn’t always want to behave. The game utilizes a traditional split screen mechanic where each player gets their own side of the screen. The problem is that this will occasionally lead to times where the camera will not show you what you want to see. This is worst during platforming and puzzle sections. There were times when I had to use my teammate’s camera to complete a puzzle as I couldn’t see everything I needed on my own screen. The bad camera also occasionally lead to missing jumps which was annoying.
As for the game’s length I would say that the game is longer than I expected. The game features 16 levels. I would say that most of the levels take around 30 minutes to an hour to complete. While I haven’t beaten the game yet it seems like it takes most players around 13-15 hours to complete the game. If you try to collect everything or try out the harder difficulties you can even get more time out of the game. For a game that retails for $30 that is a pretty good value. People who like these type of games should get their money’s worth out of Darksiders: Genesis.
Speaking of the game’s length, regular readers of this blog may be aware that I am not a huge fan of backtracking in video games. I bring this up because Darksiders: Genesis is a game that basically requires that you backtrack occasionally. You technically don’t have to backtrack but the game will be considerably more difficult if you don’t. Each level in the game has a recommended power level for each of the characters and you likely will be below that level if you don’t replay levels occasionally. You can disregard this suggestion and play the next level. If you are really good at the game you will probably still succeed. For most players though this will make the game considerably more difficult where you will have trouble making progress. The good news is that death in the game is not much of a punishment as you just get sent back a little in the level. Unless you want to keep doing the same fights over and over again and failing you are probably better off repeating old levels to acquire resources to buy upgrades and acquiring creature cores to upgrade your characters’ power.
On the topic of grinding one of the bigger problems with the game is the fact that the game can get a little repetitive after a while. I don’t really blame the game all that much because this is the case for almost every hack ‘n slash game. You basically just kill enemies so you can proceed and kill even more enemies. The addition of the puzzle solving and platforming elements do break up some of the repetition but it is still present in Darksiders: Genesis. Basically each level in the game involves proceeding through the level in order to collect a key item or to kill a boss. I had fun with the game but it is more the type of game that I would play for an hour or so at a time and then come back to it later. I just don’t see it as the type of game that I would play for hours at a time.
Another issue with the game is that it doesn’t always do a great job teaching you all of the mechanics. In some ways this is good because no one likes a long drawn out tutorial. I think Darksiders: Genesis shortens the tutorial a little too much though. The game throws a lot at you all at once where it takes some time to figure out all of the mechanics. You will eventually get adjusted to the mechanics but I think the game could have done a better job bringing the mechanics in slower. On the other end of the spectrum the game never even introduces one of the main mechanics in the game. The game never tells you that the core system even exists. If you never go into the menus and check out the mechanic you wouldn’t even knew it existed. Once you open the menu the game does a good job explaining it but some players could go through quite a bit of the game not even knowing it exists.
Darksiders: Genesis took a risk by trying something different than the rest of the Darksiders franchise. I haven’t played the other games so I can’t compare them, but I thought this new take on the franchise was interesting. In a lot of ways the game is similar to your typical hack ‘n slash game. Most of your time will be spent fighting hordes of enemies. The combat is similar to other games in the genre but it felt more in depth as you couldn’t just button mash your way to success. I found the combat to be pretty fun. In addition the game included puzzle and platforming mechanics that reminded me more of third person action games than your typical hack ‘n slash game. I thought these elements were a nice addition which helped break up the repetitive nature of your typical game from this genre. The game is a fun co-op experience and is also longer than I expected. The game does have some issues with the camera though and it doesn’t always do the best job explaining mechanics. The game also relies on some grinding which leads to the game becoming a little repetitive at times.
If you don’t really have any interest in the Darksiders franchise or don’t really care for hack ‘n slash games Darksiders: Genesis probably won’t be for you. If you are a fan of the franchise though and don’t mind the switch to a more top down hack ‘n slash game I think you will enjoy Darksiders: Genesis a lot. For those of you like me who have never played a Darksiders game before, if you like hack ‘n slash games you can still get quite a bit of enjoyment out of the game.
Buy Darksiders: Genesis online: Nintendo Switch Digital, Nintendo Switch Physical (Standard, Collector’s Edition, Nephilim), PC (Steam), PC Physical (Standard, Collector’s Edition, Nephilim), PlayStation 4 Digital, PlayStation 4 Physical (Standard, Collector’s Edition, Nephilim), Xbox One Digital, Xbox One Physical (Standard, Collector’s Edition,Nephilim)