Darksiders Genesis Preview - E3 2019
We play through a demo of the new spinoff action title
When THQ Nordic began teasing a new Darksiders-related announcement for E3 2019, some fans were confused. After all, it was less than a year ago that Darksiders 3 made its debut. But alas, the publisher had a new trick up its sleeve. As franchises often do, this IP is hoping to branch out, and with the help of developers Airship Syndicate, Darksiders Genesis is going to offer a new way to experience the franchise. We had a chance to play through a couple of demos for the game at E3 2019.
We had a choice to play a Dungeon Demo and a Boss Fight Demo, and went into the former first. Players assume control of a new Horseman of the Apocalypse called Strife, as well as War, with whom fans of the series will be familiar with. For the entirety of the dungeon demo, we stuck with controlling Strife. This new character is clearly trying to show everyone he has an attitude problem. During the brief dialog, he behaved nonchalant to War's concerns about their situation. During combat, he'd constantly exclaim phrases like "Headshot", "That was easy", "Dude", and so on. It seemed OK in the demo, and hopefully the developers' attempts to make this character sound cool won't become grating over the course of longer sessions.
Strife had a few standard abilities, such as dash, light and heavy melee attacks, jump/double jump/glide, and special abilities. While Genesis uses an isometric camera perspective, it's no Diablo - this is an action game through and through, more akin to Shadowgrounds but with emphasis on melee combat. We'd hack and slash away at some creatures, and also used Strife's pistols to deal damage from afar. After shooting for a while, he entered a brief overpowered mode that allowed him to fire much more quickly. Enemies display health bars, so you know which ones are close to being stunned; when they are, you can perform stylish instant finishers.
We ran around the dungeon level for a while, taking out foes big and small, finding a few optional paths that contained chests, grabbing souls and collectibles. The level design was mostly straightforward, and presented a couple of easy puzzles that required levers to be pushed. We also did some basic platforming, like scrambling up ledges and beams, jumping across gaps and between wooden poles, and so on. It was all fairly standard stuff, but it was well implemented and controls felt satisfying and responsive. We came across an occasion where a Soul door blocked the way forward, until we had defeated a few large waves of foes. Here, Strife used his cunning to stay out of the way of enemy projectiles, jump and hang in the air to deliver some death from above, and used his special abilities, such as temporarily transforming into a huge beast.
With the dungeon cleared, we switched to the Boss fight demo. We faced off against Mammon, a Lord of Hell, who was living in a room filled with gold coin, reminding us of the scenes from Aladdin or Scrooge McDuck in his bank vault. As the battle began, this allowed the boss to dive under the surface and appear elsewhere. Things started out fine - Strife delivered solid damage and kept dodging the boss' ranged energy spheres. After depleting a certain amount of his health bar, things got more chaotic, as he spawned a magic coffin that began producing skeletons for us to contend with. The upside is that they dropped some healing items, but they also kept coming until the coffin was destroyed, which took a fair chunk of damage. While busy with the fodder, the boss also spawned a magic book that kept firing magic spells at us. With so much chaos in the room, we weren't able to keep up and were defeated.
For the second attempt, a better game plan was formed. After dealing an initial chunk of damage to the boss, we began to focus on eliminating the coffin and the magic book as priority targets. With those cleared, we re-focused on the boss, but he had more tricks. He spawned a mirror, which created multiple versions of himself. Now, we were facing off against numerous copies of the boss - and while the duplicates fell quickly, it was quite chaotic, and Strife took a lot of damage. But fret not - as mentioned, players can also switch to War at any time. With War, the controls stay the same, but he obviously has his own style of fighting, animations, and special attacks, as well as his own health bar. It was a challenging encounter, but eventually we prevailed.
Darksiders Genesis was a fun and engaging demo. The gameplay seemed fairly polished, and the pieces are clearly coming together for this spinoff. The spirit of the Darksiders franchise makes an effortless transition to the new perspective, and fans of both the series and similar top-down action games should keep this title on their radar. While no specific launch date has been confirmed as of yet, the title is planned for release this year on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.