Darksiders Genesis is a twin-stick shooter, where you play as two of the Four Horsemen. The first is Strife, with this being the main character and with this game being the first game where you’ve gotten to play as him. War is the second main character, who’s also from the first game and its remake. Darksiders Genesis is a prequel to the first game, like a super prequel. The first Darksiders game was based on around current year, whereas this game, which barely touches on humanity, seems to be set in our more primitive years, not so far back that it’s cavemen, but instead when everyone was still tribal.
You, as Strife and his brother War, are sent off to serve the balance of all things by The Council to… ummm… keep the balance of all things. Apparently Lucifer has been fucking about doing who knows what, and you need to go cunt punt him. It’s good fun. Now, neither of the brothers have a choice, but they both agree to go regardless. Strife agrees cause he likes to kill shit, War agrees cause he’s all about doing his duty to maintain the balance and to suck The Council’s metaphorical dick. And I say metaphorical, not because he wouldn’t actually suck their dicks, but because they’re giant stone statues of skulls filled with fire, so they actively have no dicks… I hope.
Anyways, as the two of them go to Hell, they come across road blocks, and as per usual, the main character, or in this case characters, absolutely must meet Vulgrim, the soul collecting demon, a staple of the series. He, like always, offers solutions to your woes and oh so much more, for the price of some souls, all the souls, those delicious, delicious souls. He constantly lets you know what you can collect for him so he can help you find little ol’ Lucy. Every level has something to obtain or kill in order to appease Vulgrim to continue the level which, I mean, makes sense. After all, how else are you going to progress a game level to level without collecting or killing something?
Now there are sixteen levels to traverse through, a few of them are outright boss fights, most of the rest are just levels where you collect stuff. Bosses usually are literally just that, nothing else. You just go in and fight the boss to the death. The other type of level has you fighting through hordes of various types of enemies. Later on those same enemies change elemental type, while it continues to add upgraded versions of the previous enemies, as one would expect. Each level also has a few different types of collectables as well: boatman coins to buy stuff with, trickster keys to open trickster doors, chests with items and souls, abyssal armor pieces to get a new look, and lastly, upgrades for both your health and wraith, which is what this series of games call magic.
The two characters play differently, Strife uses guns as his main weapons, whereas War uses his big fuck-off sword. They both have weapons that effectively act kind of like the other’s main weapon, though they aren’t as strong. Strife has a small sword, and War eventually gets his Vorpal blade which they call a crossblade but it’s more like a chakram mixed with a giant manji throwing star. Strife is also faster and more dexterous, allowing him to dodge and he fires two guns at the same time to do some serious damage, even if his sword is relatively weak. War, on the other hand, is a big hulking brute. His sword does tons of damage, and thanks to its size, he can block attacks, however, thanks to his own big size, he can’t dodge.
The controls are pretty tight, even on a controller, which is how I played it on the Xbox One. Shooting was good at close range, but the further you get from enemies the harder it is to aim, granted that’s just how twin-stick controllers are. Blocking, parrying, and dodging were all great. You parry by blocking just before you get hit after you obtain the counter attack ability since you don’t start with it. If you have trouble trying to parry you sometimes get monster cores which you can equip to an equip tree, some of them can give you longer periods of time to be able to get a successful parry. At max I believe you get a full extra second to get a successful parry, which doesn’t sound like much but it really is, and it’s a fucking godsend.
Each boss gives you a special monster core one hundred percent of the time, and you can equip a handful of them. The rest you obtain from standard and elite enemies in the level and they’re dropped at random. All the cores level up, thankfully the boss ones require you to obtain only three of each boss’s core to max it out to level three, the others though take a bunch more, I believe forty, I think going from level one to two and from two to three are twenty of the same monster core each. The cores can also upgrade your other abilities, and they usually upgrade your attack, health, and/or wrath power.
There are some issues with the game though, all of them about fragments of the controls. The game is set in a isometric view, which makes some of the platforming sections a pain simply because that angle makes it hard to see where you’re going to land sometimes. It’s especially bad when you have to jump from land to a pillar, all the pillars you have to jump to tend to be above reset pits. I call them reset pits instead of death pits because you lose some health and respawn back where you fell from, or at least close-ish to there. Now those pits CAN kill you, but you have to fuck up a lot for that to happen. There’s also a specific maze called the Leviathan’s Maze which is in Leviathan’s Landing, the hub location for the game. It is all platforming and many of the platforms are really small making it really hard to make the jumps and the reset points are at the start of the section, of which there are three. I spent over six fucking HOURS on this, and still haven’t managed to get through the third and last section. Those are the only two real issues with the game, landing on places, and getting to the pillars, that’s it.
The cutscenes are mostly just scenes where you can see the text next to a picture of the person talking that you tap ‘A’ through to get to the next conversation piece. The conversations are basically visual novels during those bits. That being said, they are all voiced, though, at least for me, the further into the game I got the more of a gap that showed up between the text popping up and the voice starting. At the start everything was in sync, later on the gap just grew more and more. This might have been due to me playing for exceptionally long periods of time.
Overall, I really liked the game, and that’s saying something considering I don’t tend to like twin-stick shooters, though that might be cause they’re usually a lot harder. The great thing is you can change the game’s difficulty on the fly through the level select menu. The game even tells you what power level you should be for that level, which changes based on the difficulty you choose. This makes sure you know when you’re strong enough to be able to beat the next level. Shit is fantastic.
Darksiders Genesis was developed by THQNordic
Point of Sale: Steam, Switch, X1, PS4, Stadia, I’d link but Stadia’s such a piece of crap that won’t let me even get to the gamestore.
$30 on Steam, $40 on everything else including Stadia, so says the internet.
A review copy of the game was provided by the devs
darkmikasonfire awards Darksiders Genesis the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.