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The RPG Files: Darksiders 3 Review

By Christopher Coke on December 03, 2018 | Columns | Comments

Darksiders 3 Review

It’s been a week to the day since I offered my first impressions piece on Darksiders 3. I’ve spent a lot of time with Fury and thinking over my experiences and my opinions have changed. The Darksiders of yesterday is all but gone but is that a good thing or bad thing? Read on to find out.

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When I think of Darksiders, I can’t help but think of other games. Darksiders 1 was a clear homage to The Legend of Zelda. Darksiders 2 took inspiration from Diablo’s in how it handled loot. Initially, my first few hours in Darksiders 3 told me that it was hemming closer to something like Metroid but now I’m leaning another way. If Darksiders 3 is taking inspiration from only one game, it’s Dark Souls.

I could sense a little bit of that in the beginning. Fury has a bevy of attacks and these expand as you open up new weapons throughout the game but she’s a glass cannon. Battles can quickly get chaotic if she’s facing more than a pair of enemies at the time (which she frequently does) and it doesn’t take more than a few good shots to bring her to the brink of death. Add to that the fact that you collect souls for XP and drop them when you die and… yeah. It’s not hard to see which game the developers have been playing (even if collecting souls is a mainstay of the series).

In general, I don’t mind this style of game. There’s something to be said for cranking up the difficulty and really putting your player to the test. At its best, Darksiders 3 does this, leaving you feeling like a force to be reckoned with. At its worst, it’s just plain unfair.

A lot of this comes down to a camera that too often gets hung up on the scenery. I died a frustrating amount of times because I was being attacked from multiple angles and just dodge out of the way because of the camera-position. There were times I’d slam my buttons, knowing which way I was trying to dodge, and not because there was some piece of terrain I couldn’t see.

That’s not to say it’s all bad. Most of the time the camera does its job just fine and it’s genuinely fun to cut your way through a pack of demons when all goes right. The game starts as a button masher but opens up with a number of combos that have you launching enemies into the air, slicing them with your whip until you’re surprised they’re still in one piece, and rocketing to the gut of another just to keep your chain going.

As you go, you’ll unlock new weapons that expand Fury’s attack, each representing Fury’s scorn. Her first weapon, the Barbs of Thorn is your whip. Later, you’ll find the Lance of Scorn and Mallet of Scorn and others that each offering their own unique playstyle. I’ve always enjoyed combat in this series and Darksiders 3 is no exception. Mastering these weapons is a lot of fun… except the Mallet, whose slow pace just seemed at odds with the fast-attacking enemies littered throughout the game.

Each of these also unlocks colored doors, which I’d only first glimpsed last week. It’s clear that these harken back to the days of Metroid in how they block of passageways early in the game that you’ll need to come back to. I loved being able to go back and explore and find new things in the wonderfully interesting world Gunslinger Games has created. It’s old school, which really does exemplify so much of the game.

In a lot of ways, Darksiders 3 is a game out of time. It’s not some sprawling open world or game as a service you’ll need a raid team to work your way through. Even though Gungslinger Games would love you to believe it’s bigger than it is, Darksider 3 is a game about spaces. I’d call them levels even if each came with a loading screen. Coming from the scope of Darksider 2, it’s an obvious rollback. In some ways, it’s even more constrained than Darksiders 1 as many of the Zelda-like elements have been left on the cutting room floor. It’s simpler, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing.

Boss fights are also distinctly old school, usually progressing in set stages with clear telegraphs. Once you learn the pattern, the door unlocks and you can make your way in to hack and slash. Growing up on games where this was every boss fight, it actually made me feel a bit warm and fuzzy, even as I was fighting a giant, hedonistic insect.

But on the other side of that, too much has been simplified. Where is the gear, Gunslinger Games? You can upgrade your weapons and stats but there’s virtually no gearing up at all, which is a tremendous disappointment. Why all the narrow corridors when the camera can’t keep up? Why do so many fights consist of closing the gap and mashing attack? There should be more to it than this, there was more to it than this.

Closing Thoughts

Darksiders 3 is a game many of us expected never to have. I was excited when the game was announced and knew it would probably be a day one purchase for me. So, I’m happy it’s here and can honestly say I had a lot of fun playing through it. I just wish they’d had a little more time or funding to expand and polish what’s here. If you’re going to mimic a game like Dark Souls, you need to have a camera and combat mechanics to do that justice; and, as a sequel to Darksiders 2, there’s no avoiding feeling like it’s a downgrade in some ways. Darksiders 3 is a fun game but it’s inconsistent and, sadly, that’s probably what it will be remembered for.


Score: 6.5/10


Good

  • Beautiful art-style
  • Imaginative enemies that can be quite challenging
  • Combat can be a lot of fun and quite rewarding
  • Metroid-like elements are a lot of fun

Bad

  • Smaller game world, narrower corridors
  • Camera gets hung up in the world
  • Battles can feel unfair at times
  • Too much has been simplified - where is the gear?
Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.