Darksiders is an action-adventure game that successfully combines elements from series such as The Legend of Zelda and Soul Reaver to take us, literally, to the end of the world as “War,” one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. After being deceived and betrayed, they would have to restore Balance to the Three Kingdoms (Heaven, Earth and Hell).
This resulted in an epic and memorable journey full of platforms, battles and puzzles that boasted a good story and a third-person game with many personalities. Thanks to the studio’s excellent work, the now-defunct THQ did not hesitate to give the green light to a sequel, this time starring “Death,” leaving us to remember a considerably more extensive and more ambitious odyssey that added a multitude of typical RPG elements. Unfortunately, the script hit a considerable downturn and had too much filler (Death seemed more like the errand boy from Heaven and Hell than a fearsome Horseman of the Apocalypse), something that diluted the final result but did not prevent him from being a highly recommended game for any fan of the genre.
After its launch, THQ did not take long to announce its closure, which heralded the end of a series that had left its history unfinished and that had given us such good times. However, good fortune would have it that Nordic Games (now THQ Nordic) do with the license and rescue it from oblivion with the development of its third installment, the title that not only released on PS4, PC and Xbox Ond but now also on Nintendo’s Switch system too.
After incarnated War and Death, Darksiders III puts us in the shoes of Fury, the third Horseman, in a story parallel to that of the second part, just after the Apocalypse and War are unleashed. Be chained by the Scorched Council. Precisely, it is the latter who summons our heroine and gives her the mission to travel to Earth to end the Seven Deadly Sins, fearsome and powerful creatures that have escaped from captivity and now roam our world corrupting everything at their disposal. Step, which poses a severe threat to the Balance.
Unfortunately, this promising premise falls on deaf ears due to a script plagued by narrative problems and inconsistencies that do not know how to take advantage of any of the themes it deals with, completely wasting the opportunity to create a group of charismatic and personality enemies. In the end, it all comes down to getting to Sin on duty, having a brief conversation in which they try to tempt Fury, and beating them well before moving on to the next one, so there is no time to develop them or explore the background. Of none of them. As you can guess, because of this, we will only see them as simple obstacles on our way to complete the adventure and little else. We liked the character of Fury a bit more since she is a fighter with uncontrollable impulses who prefers to let her whip speak for her, but who, deep down, all she seeks is to prove her worth and find her reason for being. The rider evolves a lot throughout her journey. However, this development is not very well carried out, with many incoherent and not very credible reactions that are forcing changes in her personality, not to mention the ease with which she falls into a multitude of cliches.
Now entering its gameplay, say that we are, once again, before an action-adventure full of combats, puzzles and platforms that will take us through an interconnected world that has reminded us a lot of what we saw in the original installment of the series. Now everything is a labyrinth of corridors that we will have to explore thoroughly to find the way and make our way.
At the moment of truth, the main plot is quite linear. We will be taken from one area to another through shortcuts that we will open almost without realizing it, so it is not as easy to get lost as it might seem, mainly if we use the compass that there is located at the top of the screen to guide us and to show us the way to our next prey.
Another thing is that we want to take advantage of the skills that we unlock to do some backtracking and explore previous areas to reach sites that were not accessible at first in search of secrets. This decision will depend entirely on us.
One detail that we liked is that most of the Sins have their theme zone. These act like dungeons, so we will have to go around them a lot, opening paths and shortcuts, solving puzzles, fighting against everything that comes our way and, ultimately, looking for a way forward.
This mix of elements has always defined Darksiders. We have been greatly relieved to see that it has not been lost, as it continues to be as entertaining a formula as we remembered it, especially as we unlock new powers for Fury the puzzles. They gain in complexity, forcing us to make use of all our skills in unexpected and very ingenious ways that will have a good time examining each inch of the scenarios to find the solution.
The problem is that the level design is too irregular and full of ups and downs, with areas that are very well thought out and full of exciting challenges that alternate with others that are as tedious as they are boring to play, something that is especially noticeable in the last dungeon, with some highly debatable design decisions that denote the end of development so hasty that the game must have had.
It is a real shame, but this tarnishes much more than we would like the whole, since of the 12 hours it lasts, half are not up to the task, with very unoriginal puzzles that abuse repetition of elements and mechanics ( the vast majority usually include in the equation an insect that we have to feed so that it explodes or sets something on fire).
Something similar happens with the combats, the hack and slash, offering us fast, agile, surprisingly challenging, and relatively satisfying battles. With one button, we will use our lethal and effective whip. At the same time, we will do the same with the secondary weapons that we have equipped.
You cannot do joint combos, so the fact that we make one chain of blows or another will depend on the pauses we make between the presses of the button and whether we keep it pressed or not at a particular moment.
We have no shield, so our primary defensive tool will be the dodges, which can unleash a powerful counterattack if we manage to avoid an attack at the exact moment to parry. This is much more difficult to do than to say, as the timing of enemy movements is a bit “strange,” and there are some problems with the collision boxes and the invincibility frames of the dodges. Because of this, avoiding enemy hits is less intuitive than you might initially expect, so we’ll need some practice and patience to get right to it and machine all the patterns well.
However, the real problem lies in its null depth. We have spent the entire game on the complex without using any of our secondary weapons since hitting the attack button to perform the basic combo of our whip was enough. We had enough to finish everything since it is the fastest of all, and that gave us more reaction time to dodge, so it has been the most effective and valuable of all.
This also means that no enemy forces us to do anything other than hit and dodge. Hence, the maximum difficulty involved in mechanics lies in learning the movements of each of them nicely to avoid their blows.
The bad news is that everything we just discussed also applies to the final bosses, with a few very few exceptions in which they do try to do something different with dire results, as is the case with the second phase of Gluttony. Despite this, confrontations like the one in Lust have seemed very intense and entertaining, so once again, we are faced with a section full of ups and downs.
On the other hand, the inclusion of specific details that draw directly from the Souls series by FromSoftware and that are marking the structure of the adventure, such as a very similar system of checkpoints and progression, has caught our attention. Killing enemies and using particular objects will give us souls that we can invest in these checkpoints to buy items and level up our heroine, which will allow us to raise our three main statistics (Life, Attack and Arcane) according to our preferences.
The death system has also been replicated, so if we are killed, we will return to the last checkpoint and lose all the souls we carry, forcing us to return to the point where we were eliminated to recover them. In addition, we will also have a bottle that we can use to heal ourselves and recharge with the green souls that enemies sometimes drop. Of course, there are objects to improve their number of charges and the healing they give us, although these are usually well hidden by the scenarios.
They are small details that impact our journey and our playstyle, although we can assure you that at the moment of truth, this installment still feels like a true Darksiders.
At the graphic level, it is evident that we are facing a medium budget production, with some models, scenarios and effects that fail to stand out at any time and that are limited to fulfilling their mission without great fanfare, the animations being the best here both of Fury as of the rivals we will face.
Probably what has hurt us the most of all this has been the more than evident downturn that the title has hit at an artistic level, with designs of enemies and uninspired scenarios, without personality and very unattractive on a visual level, except for some particular areas, which makes the exploration less attractive, since almost all the places we will visit are very similar and even, in some instances, “ugly.”
On the other hand, the sound we liked thanks to its fantastic soundtrack, full of very epic, cinematographic and high-quality orchestral themes that know how to create the perfect atmosphere for our adventures.
Darksiders III is a game with as many hits as misses, preventing it from going further and keeping up with its predecessors. Despite this, its peculiar mix of action, puzzles and platforms continues to work very well, resulting in a surprisingly entertaining adventure that manages to overcome its defects to offer you a good time without any pretensions. If you liked the previous installments, which are incredibly original and appreciate what it proposes, you would probably enjoy it without much effort.
We prepared this review with a digital review key for the Switch version of the title provided by Evolve PR.