The Darksiders series is one of my favourite hack and slash action RPGs around. I have played the first and second one a couple of times especially since their debut on current consoles. The series has been known for its gorgeous art style, great combat and of course epic boss fights and deep RPG mechanics. Darksiders III, however, dropped much of that in turn for a rushed, watered-down experience that I hope Gunfire Games learn from. Its a boring game with very little depth. No loot system, a linear skill tree, and a boring world to explore with not much else to do other than press forward in hope that it gets better.
Developed by Gunfire Games, the Darksiders III development team is made up of a number of original Darksiders members. The series went off the radar after the second game released back in 2012 and when THQ Nordic was formed, they revived it and made this. Darksiders III takes place at the same time as the first two games. You play as Fury, another member of the Horseman of the Apocalypse as she is sent by the Charred Council to go and kill the Seven Deadly Sins. However, there is a lot more going on than it seems as there is a bigger plot behind all this that gets revealed during the game.
Familiar characters are met along the way which you will remember from past games. However, they play no real significance in the experience and are more of a stationary asset than anything else. Uthane returns as a Maker in the game to upgrade Fury’s whip using materials she finds across the world and War and other characters pop up every now and then too. Fury, on the other hand, is a pretty cool character. She is one-dimensional but delivers a pretty badass performance as she goes about her quest to slay the sins. She can get a bit too much at times as anger and “I don’t care about no one” attitude gets tiring after a while.
The first major issue with Darksiders III is the lack of dungeons. The first two games were known for their Zelda-esque dungeon experience. You would explore the giant open world, find a dungeon, kill a bunch of enemies, find a key and kill an epic boss. Darksiders III, on the other hand, now has an interconnected world with enemies and bosses put into it. It works for the first few hours of the game but after a while, you realize that you are just exploring the same boring world to track down a sin, kill it and move onto the next.
The lack of direction was a big issue for me as I would have loved to spend time exploring a dungeon, doing puzzles and learning new abilities all to face down with a boss. The Seven Deadly Sin fights also offer nothing to write home about at all. They are bland and over before you could even get into the action. The sins, however, do deliver a memorable appearance as they all look great and have their own unique personality and fight arena. Again, the first handful of them is great but after a while, you could not care less about who they are and why you are killing them.
When it comes to the world of Darksiders III, it is pretty average. You travel along a linear path with a few interconnected areas here and there. Many areas are locked out by paths that need you to have specific abilities to get through and a few platforming puzzles here and there. The world is great when it tries to deliver this post-apocalyptic vibe but a lot of the time I just felt that compared to the first two games, its creativity was lacking. There’s only so much city ruins you can explore before they start to all look the same.
Darksiders III’s combat has also been dumbed down for a more ARPG approach. You can still tell it is a Darksiders III game but instead of giant combos decimating dozens of enemies, you now get swarmed by only a handful that can kill you in a few hits. You need to lock on, approach carefully, time your perfect dodges to perform a more powerful attack and unleash your attacks carefully. This moment-to-moment combat is then backed by an XP system that sees you drop your souls when you die and you have to return to the spot to collect them again.
If you die again on the way to collect them, they do not disappear. It is a pointless system in my books as I kept asking myself why drop them in the first place when there is no real consequence to it? These souls are then taken to Vulgrim to purchase items and level up. Sounds pretty familiar right? The combat works and while it is much simpler than its predecessors it looks great and feels great too. It is not as hard as other ARPGs on the market but there is a handful of harder difficulties that will increase enemy health, damage and align the game with other hardcore RPG titles.
With that being said, I wish I could tell you there was actual mind and wisdom behind the difficulty as there is not. Much of the game is all about enemies spamming attacks which stagger you into a corner. When you die it is most likely from something really broken and it becomes frustrating that there was no real way to block or counter powerful attacks other than just dodging them and attacking back. Most of the time a dodge would just open you up for another powerful attack while you are trying to perform your counter attack. This is no Dark Souls or Bayonetta as there is very little polish behind it all. It could have been great if there were different ways to get around combat. Like its open world and story, the combat just falls under “pretty average”.
Fury does grow throughout the game learning moves and abilities thanks to the elemental weapons she gets from bosses. These elemental abilities offer new weapons and ways to get around the world. She can cling onto walls and burst into the air like a reversed meteor. These weapons then add another layer of attacks to combat but again, they are just another few combos you can perform that require no skill at all.
Everything Darksiders III tries could have been done better. Its mechanics and features never fully evolve into anything great and while Gunfire Games was trying to bring the series into a new genre, they should have paid attention to what makes a good ARPG experience. Its story is pretty basic, its combat is simple-minded, and its world is bland. Nothing about the game improves on the past great entries rather it is a giant step backwards in an attempt to make something new. If it ain’t broke, right?
This review was based on a review code sent to us by THQ Nordic
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: Xbox One X | Price: R999