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Review: Darksiders Genesis – The Horsemen ride again

Horsemen, ride!

Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

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If you know nothing about the Darksiders franchise up to this point, take a pew and watch this recap from The Ashen Hollow. Now… forget everything, as Darksiders Genesis is really a prequel to the events leading up to War stupidly breaking the Seals and bringing Hell to Earth.

Right, now we’ve got that out of the way, how does the fourth installment in the series hold up? Gone is the behind-the-shoulder camera of the series, opting for a zoomed-out, overhead view that you’d be forgiven for making comparisons to Diablo or even Torchlight. Let me stop that train of thought in its tracks, as it’s unmistakably Darksiders, just from a different perspective.

Horsemen, ride!

Darksiders Genesis - The Horsemen
Image: KnowTechie

There’s loot, sure. There are demons to slay, sure. There are even gems to socket… It’s still Darksiders’ blend of tightly-timed swipes and blows, with dodging, powers and a new co-op mechanic. Yes, I said Horsemen, as you can team up with a buddy in split-screen goodness, fitting for the arcadey feel of the latest game, or in online co-op using your full screen. Horsemen, ride!

That top-down mechanic was born of a real-world constraint – how to develop a full Darksiders game with a team of nine. Well, nine at the start, Airship Syndicate now has about 30 on the team.

It’s also a view that works perfectly with Strife’s weapon set, dual pistols. Fans of the series will recognize them as Mercy and Redemption, the handguns that War, and later Death, had as secondary weapons in the first two installments.

Aiming feels like most dual-stick shooters, and I’d recommend a controller for this one – while you can play with keyboard and mouse, it doesn’t feel as natural.

Choices, choices

darksiders genesis gamepaly
Image: Amazon

Okay, since you now have a choice of two horsemen, which to pick? I’ll be easier than you thought, as while they both play differently, it’s down to a personal choice of style. Neither Strife or War works out as more powerful as the other. Strife is your typical ranged character, stay on the fringes of packs and you’ll be fine. War is, well, War. If you’ve played the first game, you know how he handles, and he’s even voiced by the same actor. How’s that for continuity?

The dialogue between the pair is fantastic, often better than the story dialogue that moves things along. That’s fine by me, and I look forward to playing more co-op to hear the rest.

Hack, slash, shoot; tonight we ride!

Darksiders games Genesis
Image: KnowTechie

If you’ve played any of the prior Darksiders games, Genesis will make you feel right at home. It’s got the same fast-paced combat of the prior games, relying on tightly-timed combos to learn. The timing of these always takes a little time to get used to as a player, but the first time you pull off a slickly timed combo you’ll feel like a badass. Heck, every time you pull one off after that you’ll still feel badass. That’s just how becoming one of the Four Horsemen feels like.

Combat is generally well-balanced, and I haven’t found any spots where I died and had to restart as yet. That’s also helped by the fact that in single-player, you can carry on as the other Horseman if the one you were using goes down. It’s almost an extra life and should get you through any situation. In co-op, you can revive your partner if they go down, but you still need to stay alive yourself to do so.

For the most part, even the bosses can be tackled fairly easily. Some are easier with one of the two Horsemen, but only just. It does feel like some of the waves of small enemies only serve to extend the boss battles slightly. Not that it should put you off, I mean video games have been doing this since the beginning.

The simple environmental puzzles aren’t as involved as some of the prior games, but that might be just because the top-down perspective gives you an easier view. Keep your eyes open constantly though, as there are tons of new paths or hidden items lurking just off the main path. Some of these you need new equipment to get to or open up, like swinging with the ghost grip.

With a total playthrough of maybe 15 hours, it’s not the sprawling adventure that the first two games in the series brought. Then again, it doesn’t pretend to be, and it’s refreshingly fun to play from a different viewpoint.

I know this isn’t Darksiders 4, not really. Airship Syndicate is working on two new projects though, so fingers crossed that another game in the behind-the-shoulder third-person perspective is coming?

Until then, Horsemen RIDE!

Darksiders Genesis is now available on Google Stadia and PC with console releases planned for February 2020.

A sample unit was provided for the purpose of this review.

Editors’ Recommendations:

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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