The Darksiders franchise has prided itself on its third-person action adventure formula since the original release back in 2010, but with Darksiders Genesis, the series goes back to the origins of the long-running story and flips the perspective to a top-down, Diablo-esque action game. Don’t be fooled by the new look, though, as Genesis is a true-to-form Darksiders experience, albeit with a few new tricks and ideas.
Acting as a prequel to the entire series, Genesis sees War and Strife tasked with killing a handful of powerful demons who are causing problems in the Balance – you know, the whole light and dark equilibrium that needs to be maintained. In typical Darksiders style, you’ll meet some despicable, colourful characters and find out more about the ever-expanding Darksiders world.
The change in camera perspective is a brave and bold move from developer Airship Syndicate, as it will catch some longtime fans off-guard, but that said, it’s one that works. Shifting the camera angle to something more in line with classic dungeon-crawlers does showcase the game’s beautiful level design; and the inclusion of co-op is a no-brainer given the Darksiders lore and growing roster of starring Horseman throughout the years. How exactly this would be achieved is the question, and Genesis does a great job at allowing you to switch between franchise stalwart War and the gun-toting Strife on the fly.
Obviously this mixes up the gameplay variety, giving you close, hard-hitting combat when utilising War, and more long-range, quicker attacks when switching to Strife. Swapping between the two is seamless and provides some strategy to how you take on certain enemies. If your style is big and powerful, War will be your go-to, and if you’re a long-range specialist, Strife delivers the goods – but you’ll need to capitalise on each one’s strengths to succeed.
Of course, you can play Genesis co-op too. Instead of switching between the two Horsemen, you can rope in a friend and play through the campaign together. While changing between War and Strife as one player does give you more variety with combat, playing co-operatively with a friend is by far the better option and highlights the importance of the duel heroes and abilities the game has to offer.
The dynamic combat isn’t the only great thing about having two protagonists, though, as one of the best features of Genesis is the back-and-forth between War and Strife. The polarising personalities of the two characters provides some hilarious dialogue, with Strife’s sarcastic and humorous tone always at odds with War’s stoic demeanour. It adds a bit of levity to the serious business of hunting down demons, and showcases another side of the Darksiders writing team.
Though it is a different set-up than veteran Darksiders fans are familiar with, Genesis does deliver a hard-hitting and important chapter in the franchise that will convert even the greatest skeptics. While the core third-person action formula will (likely) still be a staple for the future of the series, Genesis is a great experiment that tests and stretches the license to great effect.