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Darksiders: Genesis Review: 2 Guns

/ May 11th, 2020 No Comments

Darksiders: Genesis Review

Darksiders is a series that possessed a lot of potential and tremendous upside after a solid initial outing. However, the sequels stemming from the original haven’t delivered on the promise of the series. Darksiders: Genesis is a sequel and a spin-off that changes up the format from 3rd person action to 2.5D dungeon crawler hack-n-slash.

Let’s avoid lengthy suspense, Darksiders: Genesis slaps. It is a great spiritual sequel to a series that lost its way since the first entry. The combat is fun with a good amount of depth, and the story has all the grandiose ideas tempered with a sense of humor making it more palatable.

Lucifer Gon’ Plot and Scheme

Lucifer has conspired with hell’s masters to infiltrate Eden. Strife and War are put into an alliance of convenience with Samael and Vulgrim. Acting as hit men for the demons, Strife and War must venture to the far corners of hell to kill its masters, gain their treasures and figure out how to stop Lucifer.

Darksiders: Genesis Review
Even if you form a temporary alliance, it doesn’t stop your “ally” from cutting deep.

The secret sauce for Genesis’ story is the interplay and dynamic between Strife and War. War acts as the anchor for the story putting over the severity of the mission and stopping Lucifer. Strife is a pinch of salt in a dish highlighting the other flavors. His cavalier manner and penchant for jokes and sarcasm provide a delightful contrast to War’s dour and stern demeanor. It is like a buddy cop movie with an apocryphal twist.

Darksiders: Genesis Review
The interplay between Strife and War is a delight.

Solo Bolo or Co-Op for Dolo

Darksiders: Genesis puts you in control of Strife and War of the Four Horsemen. You can either play co-op with friends or ad hoc with someone controlling Strife or War, or more likely go solo switching between Strife and War. 

Unlike most co-op games, Genesis may benefit from playing solo. Moving between Strife and War is easy allowing you to build the switch into your combos and combat. Playing by yourself doesn’t put you at a disadvantage with an insanely steep difficulty making it a joy to go solo.

Combat for its part is very hack-n-slash-y, which works well for the 2.5D presentation as the camera doesn’t become an issue when dispatching enemies. A cool trick is the silhouette it displays when a character or enemy moves behind cover. 

Darksiders: Genesis Review
Switching from 3D to 2.5D was the best move for the series.

Strife and War play very differently with Strife being more nimble and dexterous with more ranged combat options. War for his part plays similar to the first a Darksiders as a more stoic, lumbering character favoring his giant broadsword and power to get rid of enemies.

Strife gains different ammo types and War gains different power attacks throughout the game. These can be switched during combat allowing you to change strategies mid-fight. Strife’s ammo is much more dynamic and useful as he builds up his special meter with consecutive attacks. War’s attacks are cool, but you will find your bread and butter attack and use it continuously.

A nice thing Genesis does is build the complexity of combat out slowly allowing players to engage more casually just mashing buttons or purchase move upgrades to play more skill based combat by executing stronger, more complex moves. It is cool to be able to play through the game simply hacking and slashing or pushing yourself to execute the more input heavy moves.

Darksiders: Genesis Review
Boss fights are a chaotic, but a great challenge.

In terms of customization and upgrades, Genesis has a simple to grasp rune upgrade system. By defeating demos you gain their crystallized essence and you can slot those essences into different runes to activate upgrades for War and Strife. This includes stat improvements, passive bonuses, and more. How granular and complex you go is up to you, but slotting in these essences effectively will make Strife and War more fearsome in battle.

Darksiders has always balanced combat with puzzles and Genesis is no different. However, unlike the previous games, puzzles are more straightforward. You’ll use the tools you find like War’s glaive or Strife’s portals to crack the solutions. Despite not being crazy brain teasers, they help add variety to gameplay and break up combat in an effective manner.

Wait, isn’t this a hack-n-slashy, dungeon crawler-y deal, what about the loot? Good thing you asked! Genesis has a ton of loot  hidden across each chapter. This loot includes keys to unlock secret doors, passive upgrades, and more important means to purchase upgrades or new moves. Tracking down loot is worthwhile and makes exploring in the game satisfying.

Overall

Darksiders: Genesis is a rebirth for the series. It takes the cores of what made the first Darksiders work and builds on it in smart ways, mostly importantly by changing to a 2.5D presentation with a dungeon-crawling/hack-n-slash style of gameplay. If you’ve given up on the series, try out Genesis. It’ll change your mind.

Darksiders: Genesis was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the publisher.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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DARKSIDERS: GENESIS REVIEW: 2 GUNS

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall81%

GAMEPLAY9

This is the strongest the series has been in terms of mixing combat, puzzle solving and exploration. It truly is a joy to play.

GRAPHICS8

Darksiders: Genesis is strongest in terms of its level and character design. The 2.5D graphics can look a bit zoomed out on Switch, but the animations help sell the action well.

SOUND8

The game is anchored by strong voice work, which gives weight to the action.

STORY7.5

Whether you’re deep into Darksiders lore or haven’t ever played a game, Genesis does a good job of contextualizing everything. The plot to stop Lucifer’s machination is fine, but the dynamic between Strife and War is gold.

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