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When I heard that there’s a new Darksiders game coming I was quite skeptical of it. After the mediocre performance of Darksiders 3 starring the only female Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Fury, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted anymore hack ‘n’ slash from THQ Nordic. And guess what? I was proven wrong! Darksiders Genesis, Airship Syndicate’s latest outtake on the series did a complete overhaul of the core mechanics, replacing the ‘borderline eh’ hack ‘n’ slash with high-octane, combat-fueled, shoot’em-slice’em gameplay. Let’s see why Darksiders Genesis is a great addition to the franchise.

Story and Writing

Ironically for a Darksiders game, I was seldom invested in Genesis’ narrative, which also felt kind of offbeat compared to the ‘trying-to-be-deep’ storylines of previous games. Set thousands of years before the events of Darksiders (I mean before the time when War waged… ahem war against the Charred Council), War and Strife are tasked by the Council to take down Lucifer who’s out to upset the balance between Heaven and Hell. Typical ‘save the world’ mission in the books of the Horsemen which involves killing waves of demons and monsters standing in their way. Like I said, quite offbeat considering how the previous games were about solving someone else’s mess. But then again, story isn’t the main focus of Darksiders Genesis when the action-packed gameplay is there to reckon.

The witty banter between War and Strife amidst battling often cracked me up since War is just so stoic and a straight-up belligerent gladiator whereas Strife is…. well, he comically calls Lucifer Lucy while slinging to his handguns affectionately named Mercy and Redemption. The complete contrast between the two characters makes way for some memorable moments reminiscent of buddy-cop movies. War naively killing the vibes of Strife’s ‘knock-knock’ jokes, Strife mocking War’s bulky looks saying that he would have a hard time climbing up if he slips and falls down, War chiding Strife for wearing a skull mask oblivious of the fact that the skull is actually Strife’s face when the latter complains that his visor is getting foggy, instances like these during combat or exploratory sequences makes the progression all the more interesting even though the characters appear generic. But sadly, apart from these two, the NPC’s are nigh unlikable owing to how little screentime they have. You might as well see yourself skipping through the dialogues as quickly as possible since they all unfold in comic book style conversations like a lot of visual novels these days.

Gameplay and Mechanics

Now let me flex my fingers as I begin to describe how gloriously fun the combat mechanics are in Darksiders Genesis. The game takes an isometric and kind-of top-down perspective contrary to the third person architecture of previous installments. This means, the two characters you control, War and Strife, appear as teeny tiny Nephilims ravaging their way through armies of copy-pasted enemies straight outta hell. Changing the camera perspective to something out of a Diablo game reduces the effort in detailing the onscreen characters but I doubt anyone would halt their feet to notice that. As a result, you use your mouse or your controller’s analogue stick to aim at the enemies and shoot or slice through them.

Both War and Strife have their unique arsenal of weapons, attacks, horses and retain all their moves from the earlier entries. This brings a completely new dimension to your playstyle if you’re playing solo because you can shoot infinite bullets or lasers from afar using Strife’s dual pistols and if the enemies still able to dodge your attacks and get close, you can instantly switch to War and ravage the souls out of them by smashing them with the mighty Chaoseater.  Furthermore, as you learn new abilities called Enhancements, you gain access to earth-shattering combos like the area denial effect that War causes by thrusting his gargantuan sword into the ground and channeling lightning through it while Strife’s bullets literally become lava. No doubt, they are called the Mighty Horsemen of the Apocalypse, I mean they can literally summon their flaming horses out of the ground at the drop of a hat allowing a rapid transition to horse-based combat if you wish to maul over a wide area, or escape from a fight. The steeds of War and Strife named Ruin and Mayhem respectively can dash through the enemies for short span like a smouldering meteor leaving embers in their wake.

For unleashing such devastating attacks, you need to fill the Wrath Bars below your Health Meter. Once the bars fill up to the brim, its hell broke loose, as the Horsemen enter chaos mode where War engulfs himself and his sword in flames and Strife’s guns turn fully automatic shooting laser beams out of its muzzle. You become an abysmal force of reckoning as you pulverize whoever approaches you, including the various hulking bosses you encounter at the end of each disjointed level.

In addition to this, you get various gears like War’s Vorpal Blade and Strife’s Void Bomb to assist in puzzles as well as shredding through the infernal enemies. This also means that to gain access to certain areas across those scattered levels, you need the right gear i.e. you can revisit older levels when you’ve obtained the requisite tool thus making Darksiders Genesis seem like a quasi-Metroidvania. Each level can be visited from the central world called Void ruled by the trickster Vulgrim, someone who’s clearly got ulterior motives. You can use the souls you’ve harvested in your warpath to purchase Potions and Upgrades from him while his skimpily clad, voluptuous assistant Dis will let you buy new combos and movement abilities.

Speaking of level design, they are reasonably big with optional paths branching out to hidden chests or Boatsman coins. This amps up the exploratory factors and the rewards you get are worth it. To motivate you further there are many side objectives besides the main quest which can be completed by going down these winding paths and fighting whatever powerful demon is out there. Darksiders Genesis’ levels are designed keeping co-op in mind because that’s what this game primarily is. Hook up your bros and make ’em choose one of the Horsemen and ravage through the lands, or solve puzzles which otherwise would have taken time when playing solo (like doors which require you to press two switches simultaneously making you bomb one lever and manually push the other quickly).

All these levels are surrounded by bottomless pits and environmental hazards with area-of-damage effect (like bomb growths). And thanks to the fixed and awkward camera angles, you’re bound to fall in one of these chasms or run into these hazards while leaping from one platform to the other. Since the camera is mostly isometric, the judgement of the right direction to jump especially during pole leaping sequences becomes quite difficult. While climbing up a wall you might feel your character is not climbing straight and will be obliged to press the directional keys but it only makes your character eject back from whatever surface he’s climbing. All you have to do is press the jump button once to climb even if it may appear that he’s not aligned correctly. Furthermore, the camera’s zoomed out making War and Strife appear minuscule men on a vast landscape which means there are many instances when they are obscured by environmental objects in 3D. Though a highlighted silhouette appears around them, it doesn’t prevent the enemy AI from landing a sucker punch at the tightest spot possible.

Visuals, Performance and Sound

Except for the cutscenes, the game utilizes low polygon assets to build the world since you view everything from afar. But that doesn’t deter it from throwing gorgeous splashes of the colourful attacks your characters char the landscape with. What I found interesting was that the background isn’t a static image; there’s something or the other going on like there’s lava flowing, or some creatures are fighting in the blurry distance etc.

Performance-wise I didn’t observe any issue apart from the minor glitches that made my character stick to the side of a cliff instead of falling down due to a misstep. Thank god, the game autosaves quite frequently so I only needed to load my last autosave. And if I were to fall, Darksiders Genesis respawns me back to the point from where I fell, like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Star Wars: Fallen Order etc.

The background score is pretty generic consisting of wild angry chants and….. it’s just not that great, quite forgettable. The voice of the characters also doesn’t feel to carry the weight of their appearance, maybe because all the cutscenes fold in awesome comic book aesthetic, which are actually pretty cool to look but unfitting for a good voice over.


For some, Genesis may appear as a noob-friendly Darksiders, but believe me, this spin-off has its own class and really shines when you’re playing co-op. Like small morsels of food, each level lasts barely twenty to thirty minutes and might act as a great stress-buster after a heavy day. Level designs are varied enough so you won’t feel you’re doing the same tasks over and over again, and once you gain powerful abilities, you can’t help but keep playing. In my books, Darksiders Genesis is well worth a buy.

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