Darksiders Genesis PC Review

Darksiders Genesis' action-packed combat and gorgeous visuals prove that the franchise still has plenty of juice left.

By Woozie, Posted 14 Dec 2019

There’s no shortage of nasty things in Hell and Darksiders Genesis sees you culling a decent chunk of their numbers. Set before the events of the first game, the isometric action-RPG follows horsemen War and Strife as they seek to put an end to Lucifer’s shenanigans at the Charred Council’s behest. Although shifting to an isometric perspective and shorter in length than previous entries, this hunt for Hell’s masters and their minions can just as easily be considered a fully-fledged entry in the series.

War and Strife form a ruthless duo thanks to their complementary fight styles. While the former prefers close-up brawler in which uses his sword, Chaoseater, to dole out fiery justice, the latter relies more on agility preferring to fight at range using his dual pistols. War has access to a few combos, alongside different sword augments that let him turn into a flaming whirlwind, send shockwaves through the ground or steal life from enemies with a channeled attack. Strife’s weapons use different types of ammo, from the infinite standard ammo which fires regular bullets, to the more exotic choices that include arcing electricity ammo and gravity ammo that pulls enemies towards it. When Strife lands enough hits, he has a brief window of firing empowered shots that don’t eat up any ammo, the resulting power trip being the star of Darksiders Genesis’ battles.

Darksiders Genesis, PC, Review, Screenshot

Although explosive and chaotic, combat never overwhelms. Both characters can dash around surprisingly swiftly and can easily be switched between (unless you’re playing co-op, in which case each player gets to control one horseman). Attacks feel punchy and the fast pace of combat keeps you on your toes. The horsemen’s regular attacks mix with abilities like placing caltrops on the ground or summoning blades from below to impale foes, resulting in satisfying visual mayhem that I never got tired of. Minibosses and bosses up the challenge, each bringing new attack patterns to learn and outsmart. War and Strife also have dedicated stylish finishing animations for each enemy type which, even from a distance, are a treat to the eyes after an intense bout of shooting, slashing and dodging.

Aside from the upgrades which you find in levels, Darksiders Genesis lets you purchase more from the hub area in the Void, where your good old pal Vulgrim waits to exchange goods for souls. On top of that, you enhance the horsemen’s abilities using the creature core system. Obtained largely from killing monsters (although you can also get some from Vulgrim), creature cores come in two types, minor and major, and belong to one of three categories (attack, wrath, and health). Each slot in the creature core tree has a category of its own and matching the two empowers the core. That being said, until you get the proper configuration, you’ll likely find yourself using cores that don’t synergize with the slot just to gain access to all of the powerful major core slots, as filling a slot powers up all adjacent ones; some power is better than none.

Darksiders Genesis, PC, Review, Screenshot

While combat is what Darksiders Genesis focuses on, it also uses platforming or puzzle sequences to break away from battles. In several instances, levels open up, letting you ride your horse around. Puzzles often block the way to a level’s boss, requiring you to dispatch specific mobs, pull levers, find crystals and the likes. Platforming also makes use of tried-and-tested methods from ledges you can use to traverse walls, to sticky poles that let horsemen grab onto them. The fixed camera, however, can lead to unwanted deaths. Both War and Strife have three items used in platforming. While the Grappling Claw is available to both, letting them grab objects at a distance, Strife also gains Void Bombs that, on specific surfaces, turn into portals, as well as the ability to controls a ball of energy from specific spots in the world to open up locked doors. War uses his Vorpal Blade to activate mechanisms at a distance and transfer flame to objects, while his gauntlet lets him smash through crystal amalgamations and crash onto specific platforms which then launch him up in the air.

Although it doesn’t break new ground, the platforming is a welcome break from intense bouts of combat; at least until the camera decides to work against you. Darksiders Genesis’ fixed camera has quite a few moments in which it obscures your view, making combat and platforming difficult, even if it highlights the horsemen in blue. A couple of other issues crop up, like enemies occasionally getting stuck on terrain or forgetting to attack if you move backward a bit too much. Sometimes, you’re free to casually dispatch grunts and minibosses from offscreen. The map not showing the characters’ location, although a deliberate choice to encourage exploration, ends up confusing more than it encourages exploration.

Darksiders Genesis, PC, Review, Screenshot

There’s a surprising amount of visual variety in Darksiders Genesis. Throughout its campaign, you visit a plethora of areas that include stuff from burning citadels to frozen mountainsides and acid-filled pools. You even visit a charred Eden filled with mounds of dead bodies and repeatedly return to the eerily blueish Void for briefing and buying items. The soundtrack also maintains a brooding atmosphere, letting flutes, strained violins or choral flourishes occasionally break through silent moments, only to significantly increase intensity during battles. It knows when to involve itself in the action and when to hang back, amplifying the game’s overall mood.

Darksiders Genesis’ writing, on the other hand, is arguably its weakest point. Only War, Strife and Samael’s well-defined personalities stand out, even if the gunslinging horseman’s constant quips often feel forced, failing to land. While you can glimpse some events from before the main game, there aren’t many significant reveals. Your tasks also repeatedly involve finding convenient magical artifacts that always lead you to the next boss you’re supposed to fight, to the point where it becomes laughable how there’s no effort to give searching for the different thingamajigs more context. I’m usually a sucker for Darksiders’ brand of biblical fantasy but Genesis could have done more to develop the lore.

Darksdiers Genesis, PC, Review, Screenshot

Even so, Darksiders Genesis proves that the franchise still has plenty of juice left. Although it brings a familiar mixture of elements to the table, shooting, slashing and crushing Hell’s denizens as War and Strife feel great. The platforming and puzzling come in just enough quantity to provide breaks in between the game’s intense fights, establish a rather consistent pace through its chapters. While its story doesn’t pull everything off and the fixed camera does work against you on several occasions, the 12 hours I spent with Darksiders Genesis were, ultimately, a total blast.

Bogdan Robert,
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): THQ Nordic
Developer(s): Airship Syndicate
Genres: Action-Adventure, Shooter
Themes: Fantasy, Supernatural
Release Date: 2019-12-05

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