Darksiders fans have been quite vocal about getting another entry in the series so the news of the third chapter in the Darksiders saga was met with a lot of praise among the fans. Darksiders 3 continues the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first game had War in the lead role followed by Death in the second game. Fury is the lead protagonist of the third chapter in the Darksiders saga picking up the story that runs parallel to the events of Darksiders 1 and 2.
Darksiders 3 fails to innovate on its gameplay mechanics, often providing an experience that is hard to distinguish from others in the same genre. The good thing about the previous games was that each entry feels distinct and unique on its own. The first Darksiders was a Zelda clone, but albeit one that managed to offers its own unique twist on the formula. The story was decent and the lead character War was well-developed so he quickly gained a lot of fans.
The second Darksiders offered a more open world and improved combat, but the story suffered as a result. The gameplay was better this time, and the new powers of Death were interesting, but the writing was a step back. It had a bigger budget but failed to meet the sales expectations of the publisher THQ, leading to the end of the series for good, or was it? Darksiders 2 launched back in August 2012 and it took almost 6 years for the new Darksiders to get released. It is such a long wait to see the story continue, but the only question left now is finding out if the new game is good.
Darksiders 3 will let you take control of Fury. Those who have followed the story across the series will know that she relates to War and Death. Fury’s main weapon is whips but she can equip other weapons like swords or daggers. Fury can also make use of her magical powers to unleash brutal damage on her enemies. She is powerful, quick, and has elemental powers from the Lord of Hollows. This adds a certain dynamic to her combat letting you combine different powers together to chain combos and punish the enemies. The combat relies on precision and dodge is essential to killing a group of enemies, thus keeping the battles interesting.
The story begins with an introduction to the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. They are War, Death, Fury, and Strife in the world of Darksiders serving under the Charred Council. The story begins in parallel with the events from the first Darksiders when War gets imprisoned and charged with treason by the Charred Council who accuse him of starting events that can lead to the apocalypse. If you play Darksiders 2, you will know by now that Death was trying to clear the name of his brother so he remains absent in the opening scene. Strife is busy with some other matters so only Fury and War are present in the prologue.
The Charred Council tasks Fury with finding out the Seven Deadly Sins who have escaped to Earth during this time. Fury has to travel there to find them before they cause further damage to the world. The Charred Council doesn’t trust Fury though and calls out on her unpredictable nature. To resolve this issue, they task a female Watcher to keep a closer eye on Fury. This Watcher will act as a companion to Fury and often makes comment on the story events. While Fury acts like a complete badass, the Watcher offers an interesting parallel to her personality and behaves like a helpful sidekick.
Darksiders 3 takes a more linear approach to level design with less emphasis on exploration. The bigger issue is the difficulty curve offered by the game, which can feel unforgiving even if you play on the default Balanced difficulty. Even a small group of enemies can quickly end your life by attacking one after another. The dodge mechanic is a lifesaver during this situation and timed dodge moves can often lead to a counterattack that can disrupt the enemy. Learning the combat in Darksiders 3 will take some time because there is no proper tutorial, and the game doesn’t take the time to explain everything clearly. It is more of a trial and error in the beginning.
Normally, it is easy to just say that if a game is difficult, it is more of a souls-like experience. Darksiders 3 does take some inspiration from the Souls series with its gameplay mechanics. The combat is difficult, but it is more dynamic and faster paced. Movement feels rewarding and button mashing gets punished. It is a hack-and-slash game that requires carefully timed dodge moves otherwise each enemy strike can deal a large amount of damage. Boss fights are a nice change of pace from the default enemy design. They revolve around an attack pattern so you will have to figure out their weakness first. I was getting old-school vibes from most of the boss fights in Darksiders 3.
The resemblance to Dark Souls is not in the difficulty, but rather in the progression system and item usage. You collect souls to exchange them with a merchant and gain attribute points once you meet the level up requirement. You can spend these points to increase HP, Attack or Arcane (Magic). The other customization that you can do is in upgrading your equipment which requires some rare items and souls. Thankfully, fast travel makes it easier to travel between the various levels so if you are in the mood to farm some souls, it is possible to travel to a place where it is easier to farm them. If you die while carrying souls, they keep floating there for you to come back and pick them up. Unlike Dark Souls, they don’t permanently disappear with multiple deaths.
Visually, Darksiders 3 does look pretty great on the Xbox One X. It has a rather clean image quality but the performance is a headache. Randomly and often, it can drop leading to a sudden stutter that feels terrible. The game does target 30 FPS but never manages to maintain it smoothly, which is why the performance can feel uneven. This is a big deal since Darksiders 3 is an action game, and the frame rate drops randomly when there is not even much going on the screen. I hope this gets fixed in a future update since it will greatly improve the experience.
Darksiders 3 Review (Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: Xbox One
Game description: Darksiders III is a hack and slash action-adventure video game developed by American studio Gunfire Games and published by THQ Nordic. It is a sequel to Darksiders II and the third entry in the Darksiders series. The game was released on November 27, 2018 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[
Final Score - 7/10
Darksiders 3 manages to stick to its old-school roots but it comes at the expense of a game that fails to innovate and offer anything exciting. The difficulty curve can also feel relentless at times, and the game lacks some technical polish. If you can overlook these issues, it is a decent entry in the Darksiders saga.