I was lucky enough to play an early preview of Darksiders Genesis in London, UK in October last year on an Xbox One. I recall it being like a slap in the face as I didn’t expect to see the game at the event I was attending and also I have played through and finished the entire Darksiders series, so to see a Darksiders experience play out like this was both pleasantly surprising and refreshing. This time however I am reviewing this game on the Google Stadia platform with a download speed of 300mbps. The enjoyment of reviewing titles on Google Stadia is not only the new enjoyment of the game, but also how it presents itself streaming down from the cloud.
Newcomers should not dismiss Darksiders Genesis, as the story presents itself in this game before the events of the very first Darksiders title. The team at Airship Syndicate and THQ Nordic have opted for a top down dungeon crawler type experience this time around, which comes across as a very brave move steering away from the style of the previous three titles. Being a massive fan of the Diablo games and titles similar to this, I was fascinated with the prospect of a world of Darksiders in this genre and was extremely intrigued as to whether they could actually pull it off.
As with a lot of games of this style, you’ll enter in with a cutscene giving you the backstory of what is about to take place. You have the option to skip at this stage but I’d advise not to, as you’re going to rip out what appears to be the start of a solid storyline straight away from the gameplay element. The beauty of this game is hardcore Darksiders fans will want to see how the story pans into the previous titles and newcomers will have the option of picking up those games at a later stage should they want the story to develop further for their own peace of mind.
The story here has you taking control of War and newcomer Strife as they set off under command of the Charred Council to have a chat with Lucifer. Lucifer has been causing all kinds of chaos by granting his chums magical powers that are causing a nuisance to everyone else. The aim is to take these down with the help of returning characters Samael and Vulcrim. The opening cut scene is short but sweet and gives you enough understanding to grasp the concept of what is occurring.
If you have played the Diablo titles before or anything similar to these games you will feel right at home as you enter the world on a stallion equipped with magical powers at your disposal. You’re dropped into an area that looks similar to the Grand Canyon and you are sent on your merry way to attempt to locate Lucifer and his mates. You’ll see from the get go that War and Strife have some humorous conversations and the art style of the characters on screen is presented in almost comic book style visuals and they are beautifully put forward.
You’re almost straight into combat and by god is it satisfying, you genuinely feel like you’re inflicting some real damage on the enemies as your progress through the areas, picking up any loot they may drop along the way. War and Strife obviously have differences in type of combat. War carries a gigantic sword and you’re instantly want to get in the face of your enemies as your hack and slash your way through the hordes. It is insanely satisfying as you hack some of the stronger enemies, dodging their attacks and then tapping the B button to drag them towards you only to rip their limbs off or put a bullet between their eyes. Strife opts for more of a long distance approach, you’ll be able to pick the hordes off with your guns whilst slashing with daggers for close range combat should you wish. I was mesmerized at the use of colours as your fight with the enemy, a mixture of neon tones with blended in loot drops it is really well constructed in this respect.
The obvious outlook on a game of this calibre is the chance to develop skills and different types of magic as the more you progress the stronger the enemies. This keeps the game from becoming stale as there is always something new to get your hands on and play with, eventually you’ll find a setup that you’ll enjoy using the most and more than likely stick with this approach as did I. I actually found the game world a lot bigger and immersive than I initially expected it to be, which filled me with delight as you could go back to areas and see if you had missed anything before. What I did find quite helpful is the fact you could summon your stallion at any given moment if you wanted to travel from one area to the next quicker than on foot. There is also magic powers that will allow you to essentially teleport from zone to zone. It really puts this aspect of the game into your hands, you make the choices, you call the shots.
I am not going to go into the unique special powers of the characters because I do feel with these game types some things are best left to be discovered by the player. What I will lead on to say though is they combine exceptionally with the long range or close quarters combat and brightens up the whole experience. It is greatly fulfilling. There is so much attention to deal with all of the elements of combat here, they haven’t just slapped a Darksiders theme on a dungeon crawler with four buttons to play with. I enjoyed intentionally attempting to chain attacks together as not only was it incredibly rewarding it was visually stunning and forgiving at the same time. If you tire of using these methods of combat you can also use the stallion and their special abilities to fight against the gangs of beasts. They have absolutely nailed it here and I can’t think of an area of fault with these aspects and Google Stadia appeared to handle exceptionally well with so much going on at once.
The longevity comes in with the fact that you can choose to play this alone, with a local friend on the same machine or online co-op. There is some considerable replay value with an option in the game called Creature Cores. With Creature Cores you will collect these as you defeat specific enemy types for the first time. You can collect purple and orange ones, purple for minor enemies and orange for bosses and mini bosses. You then plug the cores into nodes and link them all together in order to gain more powerful attacks, better health, quicker dodging and suchlike. The clever part about these nodes is they gain more and more experience as you keep slaying the enemy type specific to the cores and nodes allowing you to boost your character and try and max your levels.
What I did notice later on in the game is that I unlocked the chance to replay previous levels I had beaten on any difficulty which was fantastic if you really enjoyed a particular section or wanted to rinse some more experience on a stretch that was worth it. There is also an Arena Mode which allows you to fight endless hordes of enemies before finally unlocking an endless battle mode. Don’t worry if you want to go off on a tangent and play these, all the accrued experience filters into the main game. If you feel like you want a real challenge you will also unlock Apocalyptic difficulty, this mode will really require more tactics than just going in all swords blazing. You’ll have to utilise health potions and use abilities at critical moments. I found myself attempting the harder modes further on down the line as I had grown so used to what I was battling on an average difficulty.
There are very few criticisms from me here but I did find myself getting lost quite a bit as the game doesn’t really give you a nudge on where you’re expected to go. Sounds like a harsh criticism but the levels can be absolutely huge which is by no means a complaint as bigger is always better, but for a newcomer this could bore them. I wish I could comment on the co-op element of the game but I am yet to try it and I can imagine it works as well as it should do, I can imagine you’d wanting to play the full experience with someone you know rather than a random. But as I said the longevity is surprising here as there is so much to see and do that I’d love to come back and play this with a mate all over again.
Performance wise on Google Stadia on my connection it ran spectacularly well as I imagined it would be quite a demand on the cloud with so much on screen attention. There was minor frame drops but it was almost barely noticeable and did not hamper the gameplay whatsoever. Graphical detail is stunning to say the least along with all of the sound effects that ties in with the game. I enjoyed this as much as I did Diablo III and that is a masterpiece in my eyes. Whilst the story isn’t the strongest point here it ticks absolutely every other box it needs to and the gameplay makes up for it. For its £34.99 price point it is a must buy in my eyes and I wouldn’t have been downhearted if I had paid £59.99 for this, it is a stunning depiction in the Darksiders universe.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Google Stadia code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Darksiders Genesis Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
Darksiders Genesis, a title that literally came from nowhere is surprisingly an incredible spectacle in the dungeon crawler, top down hack and slash universe and a must buy!
- Longevity is huge here with co-op modes and creature cores adding hundreds of hours of gameplay.
- Levels are huge with lots of hidden loot stashes.
- Combat elements are rewarding and satisfying.
- Performs exceptionally well on Google Stadia.
- The story is fairly weak but doesn’t hamper the game.
- Camera angles can be a little frustrating but a rarity.
- I now want to buy a copy for Xbox its that good!