This is a script from the Youtube video below. Feel free to watch the video or read the script.
Hello Horsemen. I’m Kinglink and this is my review of Darksiders 3 developed by Gunfire Games and published by THQ Nordic.
Darksiders 3 is a long-awaited sequel to a rather popular series, Darksiders, no surprise there. It’s interesting to see this game back, even if it’s by a different developer and publisher, with two asterisks there. At the same time, Darksider 3 reinvents itself as more of a Souls-type game similar to Dark Souls and that genre. It’s different, but is it better?
Before we dive into the history here, I do want to say that I officially was part of the original THQ under the Volition branch. I have no connection to this series, but I did work at the same publisher, which should mean nothing in this case but disclosure is important.
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So let’s go back a bit and unpack the history of this series, this is the third game of the Darksiders franchise. The original two games were made by THQ before its inevitable fall. However, Gunfire Games is made by the remnants of Crytek USA. Crytek USA was made by the remnants of Vigil Games, Vigil Games made the original Darksiders. So some people working on this game worked on the original version. Does that mean the entire team is still here? No, and for most sequels, this is not 100 percent true, people leave, change jobs, and so on.
But it seems at least some of the core is still here, Vigil was founded by two people, David Adams is the one relevant here. He also made Crytek USA and made Gunfire Games. So at least the spirit of the franchise is here.
THQ, the publisher, was sold off in 2013, and the rights to the THQ name were bought by Nordic Games, who now is THQ Nordic. So that’s less of a lineage, but I think it may be less important, and… honestly, THQ wasn’t exactly managed well. There are many stories there, some from me, some well known, maybe one day we’ll talk.
Let’s start where we always do, the graphics. And the graphics in Darksiders 3 are pretty good at times. The best area is also the most important, the main character, Fury, one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse.. Where War and Death were over armored hulks where it felt the artist didn’t know when to stop drawing armor, Fury looks rather tame by comparison, yet the design here works better.
Here Fury looks like she has a sensible level of armament that fully covers her body but still makes her look somewhat humanoid and, of course feminine, and the design works better here.
Darksider 3 is focused on the seven deadly sins that have escaped. Each of the sins in Darksiders 3 looks amazing, with a few standing out quite a bit. Each encounter with a sin feels unique and new and you’ll push on to see the next sin, and to see Gunfire’s take on the sin. This was everything from a giant slug type creature sitting on a throne for Sloth, or a beautiful woman for Lust.
While the main characters look good, the one place Darksiders 3 is lacking is the typical enemies that appear throughout the game. While many enemies will look interesting in the video, this is the first time you’re seeing these enemies, by the hundredth or thousandth time you face the same enemy, they can become tiresome as there’s so little variety in each of them.
Similarly, the environments of the game feel like they run together. While there are a few memorable locations, they are the sparks of inspiration in very dull settings. Every location is a bombed out building, a lake of water or lava, or trees. When you start to use the “serpent holes”, which are the portals of Darksiders 3, it’s hard to find the locations you are looking for. A few locations are notable, like the Maker’s Forge, but 90 percent of Serpent Holes look the same, and ultimately the environments do too.
The story in Darksiders 3 is decent. As mentioned before, players take on the role of Fury, the third horsemen of the apocalypse, after potentially having played as War and Death previous. This story takes place before the main story of the original Darksiders game. In Darksiders 3, the seven deadly sins are released on Earth, and Fury has to capture them all.
It’s an interesting story, but the story doesn’t feel like it’s tied as part of the main narrative of the series and it’s just giving Fury busy work, perhaps that’s on purpose for where the story goes, but this game doesn’t feel as connected as the previous two games were. The seven sins storyline though is solid on its own.
Some sins’ stories are stronger than others. Envy is just thrown at the player in the first moments, and the early form of Wrath seems to be a pushover, but other sins are well developed such as Lust, Gluttony, and Sloth.
One solid choice is that Lust isn’t just sexual, it’s desire, and she appears as a woman but taunts Fury with something other than what is normally considered Lust, things like this work at least when the game attempts them. About half the sins are well developed but the other half are just themes.
Along the way, the player meets a couple of interesting characters, the main two that stand out are Uriel and Uthane, both of these characters appear in previous games, but with this being a prequel to those titles, this is their first interactions with the horseman so far. It’s an overall confusing system when the story is placed into the narrative, but both of these characters show up and are interesting even if they don’t stay as a major part of the story.
But the narrative of this game becomes a bit of a mess because of the Darksiders franchise overall. Without spoiling the ending, where Darksiders 3 fits in the timeline of all three of the current games in the franchise is questionable. It’s clear where the game starts, but the final scenes make little sense when combined with the first game’s storyline.
Still the story delivered in Darksiders 3 works well, and unlike the previous games, it stays focused on the sins rather than being sidetracked through additional unnecessary missions to artificially lengthen the playtime. Though, some of the delivery of the story is rough, especially when the “watcher” character decides to talk to Fury. Rather than having these discussions as Fury runs between battles, the game forces Fury to creep around, while having the discussions, and the experience slows down the flow of gameplay for needless exposition that could have been done as simple narration, or a psychic conversation if the game wanted.
The last piece of the story is perhaps the only true issue with Darksiders 3’s story. After the final battle, the game decides to start telling more stories and even more stories after that, as if this added to the world-building, but very little of this feels necessary and the overall extended ending feels bloated. Much of the story was done, but the game kept feeling like it had to add another ending and another, similar to the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, but rather than ending a trilogy here, this is just another of the four games promised, and probably more. It detracted from what was a rather powerful ending with that last boss.
With the story out of the way. let’s talk about the gameplay, and to do that, we have to go back to the history books one more time. Darksiders is interesting as a franchise. The original game in the series had the players playing as War, another horseman of the apocalypse and it plays a bit like Zelda. The second game, Darksiders 2 has players take on the role of Death, and while it still is a major adventure game, it uses an inventory system similar to Diablo and has more of a feel of a looter than Zelda would, at least before Breath of the Wild.
I like this idea, because each of the horsemen gets their own experience, in Darksiders 3, Fury now takes on the gameplay of a Souls-esque game. Darksiders 3 isn’t Dark Souls, but the gameplay here has heavily been influenced by it, though, that could be an issue as well, as it tries to remain accessible while having that major combat system.
I would say that this game probably won’t scratch the same itch as any game in the Souls series. There is an open world map, which allows the player to explore and encounter the bosses with some choice, though some bosses are locked off because of different abilities.
But the minute to minute gameplay in the game feels more similar to a platformer. Players can jump, fly, swing by a grappling hook and more, and each ability pulls the game further from where the genre’s combat seems to want to be. Also, Darksiders 3 feels a bit too easy for much of its gameplay, while still retaining a frustrating feeling.
The difference here is that Darksiders 3 is frustrating from the type of enemies the player faces, and the number of them, rather than the traps or layout of the level. Only twice did enemies jump out at me as I entered the room, but more than a few times I was forced to fight through gauntlets of over ten enemies waiting in a room, before going to the next room and having the same fight with the same enemies.
Dodge becomes a major part of the combat, which is true to the formula, but here it feels more like the game knows that having you fight twenty or thirty enemies makes them whittle down your health slowly and you’ll eventually die whereas this genre usually only gives you one or two hits before the game wins.
At the same time, I do have to applaud Darksiders 3’s version of the Estus flasks. The Nephilim’s Respite is a good item and it works well. You start with only two of them, but as you kill enemies you may see a green symbol fly towards the player, and that’s a recharge for one of your flasks. Not a partial recharge, but you get an additional use of your flask, so drink up when you want.
There are also four different difficulties here, including a “story only” mode, which is something I was pleased with. There’s at least one boss here who’s just annoyingly hard, and being able to change the difficulty works. Also, post-launch (one of the reasons a late review can be better) is that there’s a new combat mode that makes the game feel more like the previous titles, and that’s just more customization for the game’s difficulty.
The other thing that hurts the comparison here, is that the bosses are amazing looking and I looked forward to every fight with them. Except for that one boss that I mentioned, I never had a challenge. Most bosses are rather easy and players will be able to fight their way through them, as long as they remember to dodge.
Another thing that Darksiders 3 does different not just from Souls games, but from almost every game made, is there are several actual puzzles, including rooms that don’t have obvious exits, and parts of the game where the player has to explore an environment to do some task. The game doesn’t hold the player’s hand at all to solve the puzzles, and it creates a rather solid experience, that not many games have. They also don’t just call them puzzle rooms but come as part of the exploration.
Yet, I had to look up two puzzles because the hints weren’t clear enough. Also once you reach the end of the game, some of the puzzles become more annoying and more skill-based. In the early parts of the game, the question is what do you do. Then, later on, it becomes a question of can you execute the entire series once you figure it out, and the controls become frustrating.
For most of the game, the controls in Darksiders 3 are good, but the grappling hook doesn’t always work, and since most of the time you can only target a swing while in mid-air, it can become more frustrating at the end of the game.
There’s more, leveling, similar to Dark Souls, and a few good weapons and form changes, but that just changes the game slightly. Darksiders 3 on paper is an interesting game. The story is very solid and the graphics aren’t terrible, but not great either. It’s the gameplay that I’m not sure about. The adventure is enjoyable, but it feels like Souls fans will hate it because it’s not that hard, and non-Souls fans will find it too similar to that style that they might not enjoy it.
Admittedly, Darksiders 3 should have been a little tighter. It’s an issue with how the franchise has changed genres every game and is trying to cater to fans who have already played two different games, while it explores a new genre.
At the same time, the new genres do make the game more interesting and it allows the player to see the world through a new light, and in that way, it makes more sense.
Darksiders 3 earns a
This feels about where this series has sat, not amazing games, but interesting ones, and they’re worth checking out. Darksiders 3 is currently going for about 20 bucks and that seems perfect for this series.
I’ve tried to take my personal opinions out of this review, but I’ll tell you, I want another Darksiders for sure. Darksider 4 will feature Strife a gun-toting horseman, and I can’t imagine what genre that will take on. Will it be the first FPS, where this series has stuck with third-person views, will it be a Third-Person Shooter or just another odd choice. I don’t know but I am back in this series and I’m excited to see what else they can do.
At the same time, I did see Darksiders Genesis at E3 this year… Ehhhh I’m probably not going to be checking that out, it just didn’t appeal to me that much unlike all three games in this franchise up to this point, and feels more like an offshoot of the series.
But that’s Darksiders 3, I hope you enjoyed this, I’ll be back soon, I do want to give my opinions on the Humble Choice, and we still have many more games coming.
If you have enjoyed this, consider subscribing as always. I honestly don’t know which games to put up this time, but I’ll put Absolver, and Dandara, both have a bit of a Souls flavor but each is very different. Check out Dandara.
Until next time, I’m Kinglink and thank you for watching.