Reviewer's Note: This game was reviewed on PC, but will be reassessed on Xbox and updated if there are any major issues or changes with the Xbox version.
Darksiders Genesis is a different sort of take on the lore that began with War’s journey to undo the apocalypse. Where previous games in the series feature an over-the-shoulder third-person camera, Genesis is played from a fixed, isometric camera angle that will feel like older PC Action-RPGs. Genesis introduces Strife, the fourth and final horseman, as a playable character for the first time, and this time he shares the spotlight with his brother War. The visuals and lore of the series are intact, and fans of the series will appreciate the additional backstory added by Genesis, despite its flaws and shortcomings in some minor areas.
Genesis is an isometric twin-stick action game, borrowing elements from games like Housemarque’s Alienation and Bizzare Creations Geometry Wars. There are also a healthy amount of simple-yet-satisfying platforming elements and puzzles throughout that space out the combat sections, although the combat does make up the majority of the gameplay. Players can pick this up on their own or with a friend, as both Strife and War are playable and have unique abilities required to progress through the game’s levels. Strife is a gunslinging, fast-talking ranged warrior - best suited to keeping his enemies at a distance in order to blast them into oblivion. War, on the other hand, loves to be right in his enemies face, hacking and slashing enemies to bits. None of this combat is groundbreaking, but it is executed quite well and there are enough enemy variations to keep you on your toes as either Strife or War.
The horsemen have been tasked with stopping Lucifer, the demon king, from executing a new plot to upset the balance in the world. The investigation is not overly complicated, as players will meet up with Samael and be sent on multiple missions to either acquire relics or destroy larger Master Demons of hell. While predictable, like much of the Darksiders games before it, the story is presented well and features good voice acting across the board. Even little characters like the “Fleabag” enemies encountered through some of the earlier levels have fun quips that sound great and are bound to make you chuckle.
Another strength of the game’s story is the relationship between Strife and War. The two are very different; War being the stoic, duty-bound soldier who never cracks, and Strife being quite the opposite: fast-talking, sarcastic jokester who never seems to take anything seriously. Throughout the game, the brothers grow closer and warm up to each other in a surprisingly natural way, and it’s quite fun to see War finally make a horrible pun later in the game.
The game grants you souls as you kill enemies, open chests, or complete quest objectives, allowing you to purchase upgrades from series mainstay shopkeeper, Vulgrim. These range from new creature cores (used in a grid to power up your horsemen and customize passive abilities to your liking) to potion upgrades and even new elements for your weapons. You can also unlock and upgrade combos with your souls at Dis’ shop, making your hits harder and your guns faster.
Single player mode allows you to swap between the two horsemen at any moment, meaning you can soften enemies up as Strife, then swap over to War, close distance with a charge attack and finish your foes off with a powerful combo attack. In multiplayer, the combat gets even more hectic, however. The number of enemies increases to keep the challenge up for the two horsemen, who can simultaneously work down a single, stronger enemy, or focus on two separate groups of smaller mobs. Either way, the game still keeps both players on their toes, and if one of you should fall, your remaining teammate will be able to pick you back up for a short period of time before you bleed out.
Co-op is not perfect, however, as playing in local split-screen means that some UI elements will get cut off, including quest notifications. You may only see ¾ of a notification until you open up the map to view your objectives fully. This won’t happen online, as both players have their own full screen to deal with, but it is a shame that a game that is so fun to play in co-op has issues with something that would seem so simple. The game also lacks a dynamic split-screen like many of the Lego games have, so even standing right next to each other, each player gets half of a screen for their health and wrath information.
There are only a few minor gripes I have with the game, all adding up to a bit of an annoyance while playing through. The biggest issue I had is that scenery will sometimes block the camera, resulting in a view that is simply blue outlines of your character and enemies. This wouldn’t be a huge issue if it didn’t happen much, but it seemed to happen in most of the levels, and in multiple places, this made it much harder to see and fight enemies or even determine if I was about to fall off a cliff or not. There are also some inconsistencies in what you can and cannot move over or past, like a barrel on the ground that in one spot is easily destroyed but in another has a hitbox larger than you would expect and that will completely halt your movement.
Despite its flaws, Darksiders Genesis is a very fun game that brings a decent amount of lore and character to the franchise. Being able to play with a friend as one of each horsemen is a boon to an already entertaining experience, and one that will be sure to please fans of the series and newcomers alike, and should especially please fans of co-op games yearning for something to play with a fellow horseman.
Darksiders Genesis: 8 out of 10
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