As a huge fan of the Darksiders franchise, I’ll admit I had a healthy amount of skepticism heading into Darksiders Genesis. The series makes a radical shift to a top-down, Diablo-like view.
While this title was developed by a different team than previous entries, I was surprised by how much this spin-off felt true to the series. The “buddy cop” dynamic between the main characters adds more replay ability than ever before. This prequel experience by Airship Syndicate is a quality Darksiders adventure that earns its place in the canon, hinting at the immense possibilities for the franchise…
Darksiders Genesis formally introduces us to the fourth horseman, Strife, making a gunslinger playable for the first time in the series. We’ve seen him (or his guns) pop up in a few places before, but this is where we actually get to play as the final horseman.
It’s unusual that Strife makes his debut in a non-numbered entry. War, Death, and Fury each starred in Darksiders 1, 2, and 3 respectively, telling each of their individual stories around the time of War’s 100-year imprisonment. The expectation, of course, was that Darksiders 4 would follow this format with Strife. While Genesis is great, this could lead to a missed opportunity for a fleshed-out game developed in the previous style.
Strife and War’s story is told through subtly animated comic-style art. Genesis mashes the worlds of games and comics with stunning art that gives the game’s story moments a lot of style. An opening CG cutscene demonstrates the need for a mainline Darksiders 4 featuring Strife. The comic-style art is a high-quality production choice that never feels like it came at the expense of fully rendered animated scene. It’s obvious that Genesis was never meant to be a proper DS4, but the quality feels on par with the rest of the series.
Now, for the characters themselves. Strife is a carefree gunslinger, clever, quick-witted, and always thinks for himself. War, on the other hand, is resolute, stoic and stubborn, always upholding his duty to the Council above all else. The stark contrast between the duo ends up enhancing both characters. The story helps players understand the history between our dynamic duo and leads to the player wanting future team-ups among the rest of the four horsemen.
Having two characters helps the gameplay, too. At first, I was focusing more on playing as Strife. As I later started using War, I realized that he was also a great asset in combat. He is a requirement for a good majority of the puzzles in the game as well.
As I was playing solo, I found that swapping between the two characters — at will! — was easy and fun. There’s a synergy to their abilities, which offers diversity: Strife offering a more long-range, twin-stick shooter style, while War gets up, close and personal with his sword. If you have played previous titles, you’ll notice that War has a number of returning abilities which adds continuity though the series.
While Darksiders Genesis is not Darksiders 4, it’s still a worthwhile addition to the ongoing saga. Top-down style gameplay fits the Darksiders formula surprisingly well, and Strife is given a lot more character by having War by his side. Even War’s character was deepened through his buddy cop adventure with Strife.
I truly enjoyed playing through this adventure with familiar friends and new enemies. In the end, if your familiar with the series you’ll enjoy Genesis, as well. Now we wait for the moment when the paths of all four horsemen finally converge. 4/5 Bibles.