As great as it is to see the Darksiders series make its return, I was wondering at what point that Joe “Mad” Madureira would fiddle with it again. Not that Darksiders III was a failure by any means, as it was great. But “Mad” helped put the series on the map to begin with. So he had to come back at some point, right?
And so he has. With the help of his team at Airship Syndicate, he’s jumped in with Darksiders Genesis, which recently came to consoles shortly after its stint on PC for a two-month period. One would think that the game might lose some of its, ahem, steam being on one platform only for so long. But, surprise, it’s still a refreshing hit, and one that fans of both Darksiders and Diablo will want to indulge in.
That’s because it doesn’t use the typical 3D perspective like other games. Genesis is top-down, giving players the chance to play as series favorite War or the newcomer, wise-cracking Strife as they attempt to balance the world for the sake of the Council. That’s not as easy as expected, so they’ll have to travel across a huge number of landscapes, carving up enemies and solving puzzles as they eventually progress to the story’s conclusion, which takes several hours to get to.
One would think the perspective change would be jarring. But, save for some slight moments where you can’t see your characters, the top-down view for Genesis works remarkably well. It really opens up the world you can explore, while at the same time embracing the many themes that made previous Darksiders games work well. And you can keep a close eye on enemies this way, including large bosses that require a greater deal of damage to bring down. As is the series mantra, of course.
There’s also a fun story here, one that shows both the super-serious personality of War clashing with the somewhat Deadpool-esque Strife. They both have their approaches to the mission, and they work, but it’s fun to see them play off one another in an engagingly written style. I think the only downside is that the echoing reverb can make it hard to hear some characters in certain spots. This would’ve been better off being turned down. Or maybe taken out entirely.
As for gameplay, both characters have an immense amount of value. Strife can take out enemies with close strikes, as well as gunfire from his weapons. He’s an overall balanced character that really delivers. But War is no slouch, with better strength through his melee strikes, as well as the ability to grab enemies with a spiritual hand. You can enhance these characters with new moves and options as the game goes on, really opening up to become total bad-asses.
There’s also the ability to have a friend join in, through obelisks scattered throughout the stage. Local is a blast for up to two players but you can also have someone jump in online as well. You’re best off to having friends join you though, as the randos can be pretty unreliable in some spots. Just a word of warning. Hopefully, we’ll see another adventure that opens this up even further. After all, there are four horsemen, right?
Along with excellent gameplay and strong co-op options, Genesis also benefits from a good visual engine. Again, slight camera issues aside, the world looks terrific; and the animations are spot-on. It’s also great to see some variety in each world, along with different challenges to overcome, such as switches to flip or items to use.
However, the map system needs some overhauling. I was confused trying to locate my character within the world, much less where I needed to go next. I eventually found my way by basically wandering around. Here’s hoping Airship has a patch that will clear this up down the road.
Also, not every sequence is animated as beautifully as the start-up one. However, Genesis uses a fun comic book style that, as you might guess, is right up Joe ”Mad”’s alley. I’m happy with it.
Overall, Darksiders Genesis makes for an entertaining spin-off into an already well-established franchise. There are things that I wish could get fixed, like the map and some of the presentation gaffes. But overall, it plays wonderfully, has a lot you can open up with your character, and is a complete blast in co-op, as well as on your own.
Here’s hoping the franchise continues down this merry little road — and with Joe “Mad” in tow.