What I really like about the Darksiders games is that they never played it safe. Instead, they learned from the reception, adding something new for the sequels and always kept it interesting. First Darksiders was your average hack n slash adventure with mild RPG elements. The sequel was heavy into the RPG territory, introducing an open world, sidequests and a new protagonist. The third entry in the series clearly took inspiration from the Dark Souls franchise, making it more challenging and expanding on the lore of the game. So now we have something called Darksiders Genesis in front of us. With this one, we have to take a few steps back game history-wise since it’s a prequel but it’s also a whole new game when it comes to gameplay, it introduces co-op for the first time in the series so let’s see if this bold gamble was worth it.
From the dawn of creation, The Council has maintained the Balance across existence. Carrying out their orders are The Four Horsemen, Nephilim (powerful beings spawned from the unnatural union of angels and demons) who have pledged themselves to The Council and been granted immense power. However, this power came at a tragic cost: The Horsemen were ordered to use their newfound strength to wipe out the rest of their kind. What followed was a bloody battle on Eden where the Horsemen, obeying the will of the Council, annihilated the Nephilim. Still reeling from the events on Eden, War and Strife have been given a new assignment — Lucifer, the enigmatic and deceptive demon king, has been plotting to upset the Balance by granting power to master demons throughout Hell. War and Strife must hunt down these masters, gather information, and ultimately fight their way through a tangled, demonic conspiracy that threatens to forever upset the Balance and unravel all of creation.
Yep, that War. We get to play as the protagonist from the first game eve though Darksiders Genesis feels more like a Strife’s story. The last of the four horsemen finally makes his entry and he seems pretty laidback on the destruction surrounding him. Strife will often crack jokes and serve as a countermeasure for War’s super serious tone. On the surface, Darksiders Genesis feels (and plays) like an ARPG. However, there’s no overabundance of loot and exp points to earn. Instead, they’ve been replaced with souls that you get from killing enemies and boatman’s coins. The latter is another currency needed for purchasing new skills that you find by exploring every nook and cranny in the map(s). In a way, the game forces you to go out of your way and explore if you want to level up properly. Now, let’s talk about the co-op! At the start of every level, there is something called a summoning stone. With it, you can invite friends to your game and make the adventure slightly easier and way more interesting. Co-op feature is what pretty much raises Darksiders Genesis from the clutches of mediocrity and injects a healthy dose of replay value. Either way, exploration is the word of the day here. Not only you get the all-so-necessary boatman’s coins that way, but also you can find chests containing new moves, extra souls and cores. Oh, let me tell you about the creature cores! Every time you defeat an enemy or a boss they might drop a creature core. Creature cores are unique and collecting duplicates of a core will level it up, up to level 3. They’re just a fancy word for skill points except you have to get them as a random drop, instead of earning them through experience points (since you know, that’s pretty much nonexistent in this game). Cores come in three types: health, wrath and attack. The core types correspond to slot types;matching a core type with the slot type provides a bonus. A so-called “wild slot” on the core tree will provide a bonus with any core type. Major Cores drop off bosses and mini-bosses and offer the greatest benefits, and can only be slotted in Major Core slots, which are limited in number. One thing I like about Darksiders Genesis is how incredibly balanced it is. After you finish a level you can replay it for more souls and gain access to new areas and at any point before jumping in, you can adjust the difficulty. Hard definitely feels like a challenge and will send you into a rage mode often, normal provides a decent challenge and doesn’t reward headlessly rushing into enemies, while the casual difficulty lets you enjoy the scenery while you decapitate the enemies and harvest their souls – without the fear of dying yourself.
Right from the first map, the game visuals are mesmerizing. Hell certainly feels like hell (although I can only assume it looks like that, not like I’ve ever been there) with its scorched landscape, volcanic rivers, and mountains that look like they went through hell (heh). Also, when it comes to repetition in design, that’s a stranger for Airship Syndicate devs. Each level/map has a unique feel, from hellish landscapes to snowy mountains and platforming sections through the industrial machinery of demonic towers.
One thing that I often find recent games stumbling on is this segment. Music is always in the game but never when it’s needed and it rarely compliments to whatever is happening on the screen. Well, I’m happy to inform you that such mishaps are never the case in Darksiders Genesis. You never feel alone during exploration, combat, boss fights, and Strife and War’s banter. The soundtrack is dynamically intertwined with what you’re doing in the game at the moment and some tunes are just worth replaying certain bosses over and over.
When it comes to Darksiders Genesis, it’s clear now that these gameplay experiments and venture into the unknown ended up being more than satisfactory. While it feels like a budget title in some moments, Darksiders Genesis is a game with a lot of heart and soul (and not just the ones from enemies). One thing that I should recommend is the co-op play for everyone since it really elevates the whole experience to the next level and makes occasional grind for souls faster. Get it, grab a friend to go with it (or buy a friend, I’m not gonna judge) and you just made this chilly December slightly more bearable while ripping through enemies in Hell.
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