The hack’n’slash genre is one of the most saturated in the gaming industry. In fact, before the age of open-world games, these games were the dominant force. Popularized by the likes of Prince of Persia, Shadow Warrior, Devil May Cry and last but definitely not the least, Darksiders. These days however, with the exception of a select few (Wang in particular), these franchises don’t get much attention. The last Devil May Cry got a mixed reception, and Prince of Persia has been dead for almost a decade. As for Darksiders, a new title is releasing today.
Say Hello to Fury and Her Whip
Darksiders 3 features the first (and the only) female Horseman of the Apocalypse, named Fury. As the name suggests, she’s a hothead with a special knack for destruction, and in that endeavor her arsenal is also quite unique. She “commands” a whip which acts as per primary weapon, but not the only one. As the game progresses, Fury gets access to four more equally unorthodox tools of destruction.
Each of these melee weapons are accompanied by a “form”. The four elemental forms are characterized by fire, lightning, ice and earth. These forms come with special abilities and attacks that add ample depth to the combat, the kind we’ve not seen in a very very long time. Fire allows Fury to make things go boom, resist lava, and also confers a volcanic jump boost. Lightning lets her glide like Storm from X-Men and shoot lightning bolts. The rest are equally intriguing and I’ll leave you to explore them on your own.
One game-play aspect is somewhat similar to Dark Souls. The main currency in Darksiders 3 are souls, and if you die, you respawn at the nearest checkpoint, losing your precious, tormented souls. However, the mechanics are much more relaxed here. The souls you drop will stay there regardless of the number of future deaths, and can be collected anytime. The checkpoints too are abundant. So yeah, it’s discount Dark Souls in a way- Dark Souls for everyone without the obvious hazards of course.
Darksiders 3 features a fair bit of weapon and armor customization, including upgrades and enchantments. It is quite straight-forward, collect the ingredients, take them to the smith and voila, the next time you smack a demon with that whip it’ll hurt a little more.
Combat is similar to the DmC games with a slew of rather elegant combos. Fury can yield two weapons simultaneously, further adding to the long list of combo-moves. The whip allows for a free-form style of combat, although the game does let you focus on one particular enemy at a time. As for power attacks, you’ve got two. The first one is called Havoc mode which pretty much decimates everything in the vicinity. The other, wrath form is affected by the elemental form Fury assumes. Fire sets her whole body on uh, fire, lightning wrath form shoots continuous lightning bolts, and so on.
The Darksider games have never been much about the story. You just hit everything that moves till there’s nothing left to hit anymore. That’s again true in case of Darksiders 3, but there are a bunch of puzzles here and there that require an appreciable level of head-scratching and rage-quitting.
The story is present, albeit just to keep the game going. It starts off with War apparently betraying the Charred Council by releasing the Seven Sins on the world of men, and since the other Horseman are busy doing… Horseman stuff, it falls to Fury to contain the situation. Just like her brothers she makes an explosive entry and with the help of a few unexpected allies goes on to hunt the seven that plague Earth.
Fury has a furious character (I know, bad pun). She yells and screams as frequently as you’d expect from someone named Fury, but other than that shows a bit of substance here and there. As I said earlier, the writing is pretty average, but passable.
Audio and Visuals
Darksiders 3 looks fairly pretty. The character models are not quite up there, but the environment is pretty detailed with Screen Space Reflections, extended draw-distance and high-quality shadows. Anti-aliasing and post-processing are also present, although the exact effects like ambient occlusion and blur can’t be individually tweaked. All in all, the performance is reasonable and you can easily max out the settings at 4K with a GTX 1080 Ti or a GTX 1060 at FHD.
Lastly, the soundtrack is in-line with the previous games in the franchise and keeps immersion to a maximum. You can’t really go wrong with the music in a game with angels, demons, nephilim, oh and obviously the apocalypse.
Darksiders 3 is a refreshing new entry in the hack’n’slash genre. Fury and her whip are an especially unique addition. Right from her character design (she wears heels) to combat moves, THQ Nordic have outdone themselves. This one definitely goes down as a highly recommended title, something the Souls fans might find interesting.