What’s Good About Darksiders Genesis
Being a Darksiders fan, in my own experience at least, is an emotional roller coaster ride at times. The high points of the first two games come out and provide some of the best Legend of Zelda style gameplay not from a Legend of Zelda game, while wrapped in an aesthetic that screams “90’s Comics Edge” but is played so sincerely straight that it becomes Self-Aware and endearing. Followed by the original developer Vigil Games closing its doors when THQ went under and the rights were acquired by THQ Nordic (confusing I know) after being left on the table for two years. And then came Darksiders 3, which was…fine, I guess? I gladly accepted it because I just wanted to play a new Darksiders game after not doing that for a long time. I’m still kind of bummed that the game had the actual Seven Deadly Sins as antagonists and bosses and Gunfire Games (one of the two studios made in the aftermath of Vigil’s closure) could only make about 2 of them interesting. But then I heard that Airship Syndicate, the other studio founded after Vigil Games closed and headed up by Vigil’s founder and series creator Joe Madureira, was gonna be making another game, I got excited.
And that game is Darksiders Genesis, a co-op-focused prequel to the first game that focuses on the exploits of War, the protagonist of the first game, and Strife, the last of the Horseman to be playable and possibly my new favorite, sorry Death. I don’t bring this up very often when writing this series on finding stuff I like about games I like, but good writing is a great way to keep me interested on top of the mechanics, and Darksiders Genesis has that in spades. War and Strife’s brotherly dynamic is the tried and tested “Wiseass/Emotional Brick Wall”, or, perhaps more accurate for the comic-inspired roots of the series: Cable and Deadpool. Strife’s playfully snarky wit is a nice contrast to War’s Comically Serious attitude toward practically everything and it produces some absolute comedy gold. And it doesn’t stop there, you see fan favorites Vulgrim and Samael just being themselves (aka awesome) and some of the new characters, chief among them being Vulgrim’s new associate and secondary shopkeeper Dis, all get a chance to shine and be wonderful in their unique way, it’s great.
Like a video game that you play, Darksiders Genesis is an isometric action RPG that lets both players control War and Strife, or both when playing by yourself and each can be swapped as you see fit. I largely stuck with Strife because he was the Horseman I never played. The change in perspective might be a bit deceptive, but the game is a straight-up Darksiders game in structure and scope but with a few twists to keep things fresh. Exploration and platforming are largely the same, but there are ways the character are different that plays to the game’s strength; War and Strife have different items they can use to solve puzzles and coordination in co-op and swapping at the right moment when in single player is key to getting through these. And then there’s Combat. Combat in Darksiders Genesis is good, but with some caveats for me. It’s mostly in the Dodge mechanic and how it feels like there’s a delay/internal Cooldown that keeps me from chaining dodges and it leads to it feeling a bit weird. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s a thing to note.
If you’ve played the original Darksiders, you’ll feel right at home smashing stuff as War, but Strife is the real star of the show. Out of the four playable Horseman, he’s the fastest and squishiest. To compensate, he has a pair of twin daggers that let him dart around the battlefield and his twin pistols, Mercy and Redemption, which were used by War and Death respectively in the first two games and are MUCH more powerful in the hands of their original owner. Strife has a bloodlust mechanic that when fully active, makes his gun attack way more damaging, and on top of that you have multiple ammo type you can swap out ranging from shotgun style charge rounds, chain lightning rounds, rapid-fire explosive round, they all benefit from the damage boost and change-up in terms of effects. And these combined with the creature core system for increasing your stats tends to make the game feel a bit too easy, to the point where I felt the need to purposely go into areas under-leveled. But like the dodge issue, it’s not such a deal-breaker that I wouldn’t recommend it, if anything I would have a better time doing just that. Because once they start throwing some of the later bosses at you it gets really good.
Darksiders Genesis is a game that feels like being wrapped in a nice blanket. It’s comforting in a to me way, which considering the aesthetic is weird to say, but it feels like that to me. With an absolute banger of a combat system and some of the best writing in the series, I highly recommend this if you got a friend and want to have a good time killing demons or you’re like me and want to play a great game in a series you love.