Darksiders Genesis, the final horseman – First Sip Review

Darksiders Genesis is the latest entry into the Darksiders Franchise. Developed by Airship Syndicate, it is their second game after Battlechasers: Nightwar. However, Airship Syndicate was formed by veteran developers from Vigil games (developers of the other Darksiders games). And once again helmed by Joe Madureira, or Joe Mad as he is sometimes known. Publishing duties have once more been assigned to THQ Nordic.

Darksiders Genesis artwork
War and Strife showing Joe Mad’s mad skills.

Story 5/5

Darksiders Genesis is actually a prequel to the original Darksiders. Taking place before the events of the first game. DG focuses on the Horseman War from the first game and also introduces his brother Strife. This is the first game for Strife and marks both the arrival of all four Horsemen in the series, as well as being the first game in the series to have a playable Horseman returning.

While the series has been around for almost a decade at this point. The first game being published in 2010, spawning two sequels (that run in a parallel timeframe), a short comic book run and a light novel. There is no shortage of lore to the franchise. However, Darksiders Genesis is set up to give newcomers enough information to enjoy the story of the game. While those who are more familiar with the series may have a deeper understanding of characters and events, it shouldn’t warn people off from picking up the franchise from here.

Recurring elements from the series come back such as The Charred Council. And in this game, The Council assigns War and Strife a task to take down the mischevious Lucifer himself. It seems Lucifer is trying to sway the balance of power between heaven and hell which the Council exists to keep.

The two Horsemen will travel through hell, defeating demons and putting an end to Lucifer’s machinations.

Darksiders Genesis gameplay
This technique is not called Swordsplosion, but it should be.

Graphics 4/5

Once again the art-style of the game is great. War and Strife have very different designs. Hell looks fantastic as well, with rocks, wood, castles, of course, fire, and also snow? The demons are also well designed and quite varied. Although a lot of the designs feel quite similar to the other games in the franchise. Which of course is to be expected seeing as Joe Mad is once again involved in the design. And honestly, a drastically different art design would leave very little link to the already vastly different gameplay.

One major difference is the camera angle. While Darksiders 1, 2, and 3 have used an over the shoulder third-person camera. Genesis uses a more isometric fixed camera to allow for both characters and plenty of enemies to be on-screen simultaneously. A side effect of this is that the art is harder to see in Genesis than the other games due to the smaller size of the on-screen characters.

Cutscenes are mostly done with static images and voiceovers. This fits well with the comic book aesthetics.

Darksiders Genesis gameplay
Master Sonic will be proud his spin jump has been passed on.

Sound 3.5/5

Music and sound effects fit very well with the rest of the franchise. Everything is appropriate and fits well. Largely the music used epic fantasy score which fits nicely with the look of the game. Nothing felt particularly out of place, but at the same time nothing really stood out either.

Voice acting is well handled as well, with most returning characters sounding like their old selves. In particular, it’s nice to hear Liam O’Brien reprising his role as War. Although I found Strife’s voice actor to be good it didn’t fit with the mental image I had from his design. It’s not a complete disconnect though and over time I got used to it. Chances are I’ll just need to spend more time with the character as I had done with War.

Darksiders Genesis gameplay
I’ve taken down bigger guys.

Gameplay 4/5

Genesis is a fairly substantial departure from the previous games. As mentioned in the graphics section, the camera angle has completely changed making the game feel more like a top-down game than a third-person action one. However, the core gameplay still shares a lot of the original games DNA. War and Strife are able to utilise melee attacks, ranged attacks, summon their respective horses, slightly glide with shadow wings, perform wrath attack specials, and perform executions on weakened enemies. Even the souls you collect from defeated enemies and Vulgrim the shopkeeper make their returns.

One major change is that rather than being an open-world game that can largely be explored and backtracked. Genesis opts for a level system, but you can return to previously beaten levels. Meaning that the change isn’t particularly game-changing in the grand scheme.

Thanks to Strife’s weapon of choice (dual pistols), ammo types are introduced part of the way into the first level. The resource is fairly easy to obtain and his standard ammo is infinite so the powered shots are more like enhancements than requirements. Both War and Strife can be controlled and swapped between during single-player. Which brings me to one of the other major changes.

Co-Op

Being the first Darksiders game to have two playable Horsemen, Genesis is also the first with co-op gameplay. Co-op can be played locally or online, games can also be left open or locked down to friends. The game doesn’t drastically change in two-player but there are some changes. For instance, some puzzles and chests will requite both Horsemen to work together to activate. The addition of the second player also increases the number and strength of the demons. But, it also gives you an extra Horseman who can assist a fallen player which outweighs the difficulty change.

Players share resources making the game truly co-op unless you want to compete over how many demons you can each take out. You can also still change characters in two-player if you want. One player can enter the command that would swap the player in solo which will now drop an emblem, the other player can then stand on the emblem and enter the command to complete the swap.

If possible I would recommend playing in the two-player mode as the addition of another player makes the slog of demon-slaying feel more exciting for longer. And an extra set of eyes for puzzles can be helpful.

Darksiders Genesis gameplay
So Hell is frozen over, what now?

Overall

While Genesis is far from my favorite game in the series, it is a solid addition to the franchise. I appreciate Airship Syndicate trying something new and would like to see a solo Strife game that can take advantage of his gun-based weapon choice.

I had a lot of fun playing the game, especially with a second player in tow. There are a lot of items to collect, the story is interesting. The interaction between War and Strife is particularly fun. The combat is largely satisfying, especially when more attack options open up to you.

I played an early press release so there is still the possibility of changes. One change I would love to see implemented is with the map system. To begin with, the area you are in flashes. When you find a map it shows the whole area and the place you are in flashes. The map is also covered in icons that show you where items are located. This is all pretty standard stuff, the problem I have with it though, your actual location is not on the map at all. What this means is that you have to find a landmark to orient yourself and roughly guess where to go. I found this to be a hassle and the only real annoyance I had while playing.

While it was not game-breaking by any means, I still feel like it would be a major improvement to just add your current location. A mini-map like the other games would also be sufficient.

In Coffee Terms Muggy

In Coffee Terms

Darksiders Genesis in coffee terms is like having a barista that always makes you the coffee you love. But then one day they are gone, and you go to another cafe only to find that they are there, waiting for you. They make your coffee again, but it’s not exactly how you remember it. It isn’t bad, in fact, quite the opposite. But the flavors are different. It may take a little getting used to but its existence doesn’t detract from the origin. Rather it actually compliments the drink you remember.

Darksiders Genesis Links

Website: http://www.airshipsyndicate.com/
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/710920/Darksiders_Genesis/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AirshipSyn

Darksiders Gensis Review Summary
  • Story
  • Graphics
  • Sound
  • Gameplay
4.1
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