DARKSIDERS III [Review]: Hell, Fire, and Heels.
Is Darksiders III truly worth the trip to hell and back? The protagonist of Darksiders has always been an embellished stereotype designed to fit into this imaginative world. This game is no exception. You play the part of Fury; a horsemen of the apocalypse. The big difference? Fury is a female Nephilim, adorned with fitting armor, long floating hair and spiked heels to stomp her foes back to oblivion. This choice fits the flow of combat perfectly. The agility Fury displays during combat emphasizes her elegance when dealing death to all who oppose her. Having the main character as a female is a nice change of pace for a typically male driven franchise.
As a fan of the franchise, I can say that Vigil Games follows the old anecdote “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it”. Darksiders III brings more of what made its predecessors great as well as some of the frustrating boss battles we all loathe. We find ourselves traversing seven realms, each reigned over by one of the seven deadly sins. These physical manifestations consist of Envy, Sloth, Avarice, Lust, Gluttony, Wrath and Pride. Each boss has a unique attack pattern, which you must adjust your methods of attack to defeat. The Boss fights can be monotonously frustrating at times. For anyone not accustomed to the relentless abuse old school games (like Mega Man) dish out, this game will push all your rage buttons, with each and every battle.
For me, the most frustrating boss was Sloth. Facing an army of armored carapace creatures, while Sloth sits back, taking pot-shots at you, was absolutely terrible. This is only the first stage of this multi-staged encounter. The boss battles are long and tough. That being said, when you grind your teeth for 40-minutes and finally achieve victory, the sense of accomplishment is satisfyingly sweet.
As we can expect from a Darksiders game, the level design is diverse from area to area, all themed around the boss’s archetype. Each area is full of hidden passageways to explore. As you progress your character, you gain abilities that allow you to access hidden areas of the map you could not explore previously. This gives each level a sense of replayability. Many adventure games employ this mechanic, which builds a greater need to explore. Exploring the macabre world of each sin is half the fun. To find a door or puzzle that is seemingly impassable creates a challenge that easily taps into our completionist mindset most gamers adopt. The levels are fun, addicting and a bit cartoony.
The art style of Darksiders has always been on the cartoony side. In an era of ultra-realistic gameplay, does this art style hold up? Sadly, with Vigil Games following the anecdote I mentioned earlier, not much has changed in terms of visual fidelity. The graphical capabilities of current gen definitely surpass the earlier entries. Compared to other releases this year though, Darksiders III seems out of its league graphically. Rough edges, partial pixelization and the cartoon style color palette are tough things to look past when comparing today’s standards.
Darksiders III is a fun game with elements of a bygone era in gaming. The puzzle mechanics shine due to its superb level design. Though frustrating at times, the boss battles provide enough difficulty to make players earn the sense of accomplishment. Too many games guide players along with handholding. Darksiders III takes the players hand, and drags them kicking and screaming into the flaming abyss to only reach the other side punished, burned, and a bit scathed. 2.75/5 Necronomicons.