It’s 2010, and the first Darksiders game has just made a splash. It’s a chunky brawler, it’s the closest that fans will ever get to playing The Legend of Zelda outside of a Nintendo console and it fires on all visual cylinders thanks to Joe Madureira’s incredibly unique art style. Along comes Darksiders 2, which doesn’t hit the same high notes but still expands on the formula in grand sandbox fashion.
A good number of years later, and Darksiders 3 attempts to find a middleground between the two but is undone by numerous bugs along the way. The third time was definitely not the charm, but the fourth certainly was with Darksiders Genesis! Airship Syndicate’s return to the drawing board with Darksiders Genesis resulted in an epiphany of sorts for the franchise: You can take everything that works about it, boil it down to the bare essentials and set it loose on a different genre while somehow still retaining its meaty core of action.
Darksiders Genesis then, was a more detailed action-RPG with a greater emphasis on co-op play. One of the surprise hits with which to close 2019 out with, Airship Syndicate’s pivot from a more dynamic third-person viewpoint to isometric hack ‘n slashing was a treat on PC that didn’t lose any of that distinct Darksiders flavour along the way.
It was a touch of Dark Souls remixed with Diablo, a colourful pursuit of power that still required deft skill to properly wield. It’s now on console, and the verdict on PlayStation 4 at least is that it’s still a bucket of fun to experience even if some of the more annoying aspects of its transition came bundled with it.
First, the positives: You’d be hard-pressed to find a game whose world stands out more than that of Darksiders Genesis, a collection of dimensions inhabited by steroid-infused angels and demons that you cleave in half with absolutely brutal action. You’ve got two choices to pick from in Darksiders Genesis: The taciturn War or his more flippant brother Strife, a gun-wielding marksman who’s quick on the draw and even deadlier with his wit.
Whereas War plays exactly the same as he did in 2010’s Darksiders (which honestly is a testament to just how well he was designed a decade ago that he still feels so fresh in action), Strife’s tactic is to keep a distance and let his guns do the talking for him. He’s nimble and unable to unleash storms of lead when facing a horde of demons, while also able to slash back when pressed into a corner and has a range of special abilities that amplify his firing power as he controls the battlefield around him.
Strife’s biggest difference from War though, is his selection of ammo that he can make use of to gain a tactical advantage. From firing heavy-duty bombs to chaining lightning through multiple foes, Strife is a one-man army whose greatest strength is flexibility. Paired with War’s unrelenting power in co-op mode, and you’ve got a tag team that can tear its way through anything thrown at them.
In typical Darksiders fashion, you’ll still be pitting your trigger fingers against not only demons and corrupted angels who want to turn your skull into a toothbrush holder, but also more cerebral challenges that’ll boggle your mind. It’s a formula that still works brilliantly, chunky combat coalescing with puzzles, boss fights and maps that hide all manner of secrets just waiting to be unlocked.
The other big addition here is that your slaughter of anything standing in front of your way will reward you with creature cores, elements of an upgrade system that’ll power you up and prepare you for the battle ahead while allowing you to revisit previous areas and absolutely wreck the place with your newfound ability to slice things up real good.
Satisfying stuff, but undone by platforming not always nailing the landing thanks to temperamental collision detection and losing your Horseman amidst the foreground of level design. I’m still wishing that Darksiders Genesis didn’t pull the camera up into the stratosphere for its isometric view, because while you may be able to see War or Strife trotting about, in more chaotic battles it’s not uncommon to find yourself sitting with a face full of pixels as you move in closer to see just what the heck is actually going on in the ensuing melee.
Last Updated: February 19, 2020