Darksiders Genesis E3 Preview: A Pointless Spin-Off

by David Sanchez June 12, 2019 @ 6:38 am

I loved the first and third Darksiders games. (Maybe I would’ve loved Darksiders 2, but despite owning two copies of that game, I’ve yet to play it. Someday…) That’s why I was stoked to find out that there was a new entry in the franchise in the works: Darksiders Genesis. Sure, it’s a prequel. Sure, it’s a spin-off. Sure, it’s an isometric hack-and-slash game rather than a third-person action-adventure game. But hey, I can get excited about a series I like, right?

The problem with getting excited about things is that sometimes that thing you were excited about just doesn’t deliver. And it pains me to say that after spending 30 minutes with the Darksiders Genesis E3 demo, I’m somewhat disappointed. I say somewhat disappointed because what I played wasn’t exactly bad — it was just okay. And just okay isn’t good enough, especially with a series that has established a certain degree of quality.

Enter: Strife

For the first time in the series, Strife is playable as a main character. He’s not alone, though, because he’s got War by his side. You can switch between the two characters in solo play or have both running around the screen in co-op, which I would imagine is the more entertaining and ideal way to play Darksiders Genesis.

Strife utilizes dual pistols, which deal minor damage but fire rapidly, allowing you slowly but surely hurt your foes. Meanwhile War is more of a melee brawler, pounding the end-of-the-world minions and tearing them apart with his bare hands.

The few cutscenes and dialogue sequences that played during the demo were a bit cringey. The duo engage in some pretty awkward back-and-forth banter, and Strife’s voice and line delivery are kind of annoying, making this protagonist somewhat difficult to like. The game attempts to offer up some humor and lighthearted moments, but the comedy feels forced and out-of-place given the context of the story and, well, the fact that you’re playing as two of the Four Horsemen if the Apocalypse.

Hack, Slash, Hit Levers, Repeat

The bulk of what you do in Darksiders Genesis is take on waves of baddies on an isometric map. It’s fast-paced and slightly fun, but it feels senseless and dull after a while. When you’re not doing that, you’re engaging in a bit of light platforming. There’s even some light puzzle-solving, bringing the series back to its roots following the more action-centric Darksiders 3.

The problem with these puzzles is that they consist mostly of pushing and pulling levers and switches — at least that’s what they consisted of in the E3 demo. These puzzles weren’t very fun, and they were simple to a fault.

In terms of control, Darksiders Genesis feels like what you’d expect a Darksiders game to feel like. You’ve got weak, strong, and special attacks, the latter of which are gained after dealing a bunch of damage to enemies The controls are solid enough, and the combat mechanics make the transition from third-person to isometric viewpoint pretty well. The design surrounding those solid controls is the problem: Nothing feels exciting or unique or even ambitious.

Even the boss battle at the end of the demo was incredibly mindless. I spam attacked my way through it and never encountered any difficulties, even when the boss was spawning smaller baddies and unleashing a barrage of bullets my way.

From what I played of Darksiders Genesis — about 30 minutes — it’s easy to see that there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the game. It just feels a bit pointless. Maybe it can still be salvaged, but as it is, this entry in the series is pretty middling, and that’s a bummer.

Darksiders Genesis is due out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, and Stadia. A release date has yet to be announced.

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