A review code was provided to us by the developers for this review. This review also contains spoilers for the story, but I’ll be honest the story was all over the place.
Darksiders Genesis is a game that provided me with a good time but in some instances made me want to pull my hair out. During my playthrough, I experienced a solid amount of fun gameplay coupled with pockets of frustration. There is some stuff to unpack here so let’s get started.
Darksider Genesis sports some beautiful visuals. The environments, character models, animations and art style are all pretty stunning. In Darksiders Genesis, you will learn several skills to wipe out baddies along the way. Each skill you unleash looks crisp and adds a bit of flair to mowing down enemies. The character design is also very well done. Strife looks more like an outlaw and War is a stoic soldier dressed head to toe in thick, heavy armor. Running through the different levels is never dull due to the fact that each area has its own unique style and atmosphere. The dev team really nailed it on the aesthetics overall.
My favorite part of the game is the combat. Darksiders Genesis is a top-down ARPG showcasing monstrous abilities and dead bodies flying all over the place. The name of the game is combat and Darksiders Genesis’ combat is solid. Whether you are tearing up enemies with War’s huge sword combos or ripping through multiple enemies with Strife’s ranged attacks, the combat never gets too monotonous. I found myself using a lot of War’s combos and abilities throughout the whole game (my friend played as Strife). The interesting part about the combos is that while you progress the game, you will be able to unlock combo upgrades that make your moves do more damage or increase your combo size. It made me want to try new moves out and experiment a little with War.
While you tear down enemies you will collect their souls. These souls act as currency to purchase items, upgrade certain aspects of your character or buy creature cores. Creature cores are what you will use to increase your character power level. Each creature core has specific perks associated with them. One might raise your health by five percent while another may give you the ability to leave a trail of fire behind you after you dash. As you gain creature cores, from killing enemies, you can then slot them into specific places along your character tree to power up your character. Placing certain creature core types into specific slot types will give you even more of a boost. So there is some strategy that goes along with upgrading your character instead of you just slapping cores everywhere. It’s a pretty good system that allows for some replayability where you can grind cores to level up your power.
One thing that did surprise me about Darksiders Genesis was the platforming and puzzle-solving, which there is a healthy amount of both. The platforming can get a little iffy with the automatic camera, in which you have no control over. Sometimes I would be jumping around and the camera made me think that the angle was one way but then I would totally miss the jump and die. Luckily, this did not happen too much (sometimes it was just human error) and I enjoyed the change of pace with platforming areas between all the killing. The puzzle-solving was actually quite fun in most spots as well. Playing with a friend really elevated these puzzles in terms of enjoyment. Some could get fairly challenging and solving them felt pretty rewarding. Most puzzles required a certain skill to pull off so you had to go obtain the skill then come back to that level to solve the puzzle. Early on you would see all these weird contraptions and mechanisms, then later you would revisit them to solve them and get the loot. It was fun.
Darksiders Genesis doesn’t just have a story mode. It also has a cool little horde mode that is fun and useful for farming creature cores. The mode is called “Arena” and what you do is fight through ten waves of baddies or until you die. There are twenty levels that increase in difficulty and one final level called “Endless” where you can try and get the highest score you can against a never-ending wave of enemies. After each run, you collect arena points which you can spend on certain rewards. My friend and I played through Arena a few times and it does get pretty challenging, forcing you to level up your characters to be able to finish the waves. I like that they added something like this to play in between the campaign.
While the combat pretty much carries Darksiders Genesis, the story does not. I am not an expert on Darksiders’ lore, so I am not sure what it all entails. But the narrative for this game was confusing and just nonsensical. You start off following orders from the Council to find out what Lucifer is planning. Along the way you meet up with Samael, another demon, who then asks you to kill other demons so that he can help you find Lucifer. But then it turns out that Samael was tricking you the whole time? And that Lucifer’s plan was already done? I really could not tell you. The story starts out fine but then unravels into this convoluted mess of go get this thing, then kill this guy then report back. I found myself really losing interest in the story and just wanted to get back to slicing up chunks of demon meat.
While we are on the story, let’s talk about the ending. The ending. The ending was terrible! At the end of the game you fight a demon (does it matter who it is? No it doesn’t). To be honest, it is a pretty good boss fight, combat again carrying this game, but what happens after the fight was pretty lackluster. You kill the demon then talk to Samuel one more time to, assumably, go after Lucifer, or confront Lucifer in some way. The whole game builds up to you getting to Lucifer. But that does not happen. You open a portal, watch a thirty-second cut scene that honestly does mean much and then? The credits roll. Such an anti-climactic way to end a game like this. I remember just feeling so deflated when the credits rolled. I wanted something with a little more substance.
Throughout the game my friend and I encountered some bugs here and there, but nothing too bad. One thing that was absolutely horrible was an audio bug that would put on this echo effect cranked to eleven while you were in the hub world in between missions. It was the worst and made me skip through dialogue sometimes. On some occasions it would actually bleed over into some levels. So every sword swing or crate breaking was echoed. It drove us mad sometimes. I did receive feedback from the devs on this, saying they are working on it but my friend and I experienced it through our entire playthrough.