There was a point in time where Darksiders 3 might have never seen the light of day. In 2012, THQ went bankrupt and the Darksiders developers Vigil Games went down with them. Thankfully the Darksiders IP was bought off by Nordic Games, and the franchise was revived.
I was a huge fan of the first two Darksiders games and felt they were extremely underrated. Now 7 years since the last game in the series was released, Darksiders 3 is finally here, but does is live up to the first 2 games?
For those who are unfamiliar with the first two Darksiders games, they borrowed heavily from games like Zelda, Metroid and God of War. They had that hack ‘n slack combat with Zelda-style dungeons, and even though they seemed to be emulating more successful franchises, they still felt like a unique IP.
Darksiders 2 raised the stakes and included a much more in-depth loot system with tiered gear and a much bigger world with many interconnected areas.
The biggest surprise with Darksiders 3 is that it didn’t exactly continue the same formula of its predecessors. It went in a different direction, but it still followed the theme of emulating another successful franchise. That franchise this time being- Dark Souls.
A Dark Souls Clone?
I’m sure most people are familiar with the Souls genre and what they entail, so I’ll spare you the details on how they’re played. The thing with Darksiders 3 is that it emulates it a little too closely, so it almost feels like just a clone of the Souls games.
It also makes me think- don’t the developers have an original bone in their body? At least the first two games felt unique enough to not feel like clones, but Darksiders 3 simply doesn’t feel like a Darksiders game.
Some of the dungeon-like puzzles remain, but they are few and far between. I only really remember one area that felt like a proper dungeon (in the underground Catacombs area), and the remaining puzzle areas just seemed like they were scattered lightly throughout the rest of the game.
I really missed that element of the series and it was just an afterthought here. At least the Metroid elements have remained, though they might not be as pronounced as in previous games.
Of course, taking on the Souls genre would require one main ingredient- extremely challenging combat. Does it at least deliver on that front? Sort of. If you play carelessly, or just button mash, you’ll still end up dying quickly. But Darksiders 3 is nowhere near the level of difficulty of the Souls games.
To be fair I did play it on the Balanced difficulty, which would be considered Normal, so I can’t really complain about it. But it does lack a lot of the depth of play-style, weapon choice and character development (there’s only 3 stats to upgrade) of the Souls games.
Due to that reason (and a few others), Darksiders 3 really feels like a watered-down version of Dark Souls. If you’re going to replicate another genre, either change it up and make it your own, or simply do it better, and I believe Darksiders fails at both.
But that doesn’t mean Darksiders 3 isn’t fun, it still does a good enough job of being a solid action game, it just doesn’t stand above many others.
But even though I’m being a little harsh on the game, I actually still managed to enjoy it and have fun pretty much from start to finish. I even went through all the trouble of finding the remaining humans and undiscovered areas once I was nearing the game’s end.
Darksiders 3 is a lot more linear than its predecessors. As I mentioned before, this game copies the Souls genre in almost every way, and that includes the level design.
So while it’s not completely linear, as there are multiple paths to take, it certainly does not contain the huge, sprawling areas of Darksiders 2. At least there is that feeling of satisfaction of unlocking shortcuts back to previous areas so you don’t have to replay certain sections again.
There’s maybe one semi-hub area after you’ve reached the ‘safe zone’, but you rarely go back there as the whole game still feelings like its one, long connected level. The different areas are still fun to traverse through, but they do lack the complexity of the Souls games.
Even though there are different types of areas, like the lava-filled Catacombs, the ruined city above, the sewers, and even an underwater cavern area, there’s just a certain dullness to the visuals.
I know Darksiders has always had a slightly more ‘cartoony’ style, there’s not a whole lot that is visually pleasing. In fact, this game looks like it’s 10 years old. I know this game may not have had a huge budget, but it doesn’t make it any less of an eye-sore.
I do think the design of the main character, Fury, is done well. Her suit of armour, along with her awesome whip, makes her look ready to kick butt. But it’s her hair that steals the show! It’s got this wave effect to it and it does look impressive.
Even better is when you acquire new abilities (known as Hollows), they are usually tied to a particular element like fire, ice, etc., and Fury’s hair changes to the colour of that element. It’s a rare visual treat in the game.
Also on the plus side, each area has a decent amount of replay value to them, in which you can eventually reach areas inaccessible to you once you unlock certain abilities. I always enjoyed this in Metroid-inspired games, and Darksiders 3 was no exception.
The actual storyline of Darksiders 3 is good, a little bit simple, but it gets the job done and gives you enough purpose. The thing is, the storylines of the first two Darksiders were intertwined, whereas the in this entry, it feels more stand-alone.
The storyline still runs during the events of the first two games, but it feels like just a side-story in relation to the whole series. It’s almost like it’s there for the sake of being there.
Even still, at least it’s not confusing and vague like most other Souls-inspired games. In Darksiders 3, Fury must simply hunt down the 7 Deadly Sins that have been released upon Earth. Each of the Deadly Sin bosses I think are represented well, and their overall design suits their associated sin.
Fury herself isn’t the most likeable character, but at least her banter with her Watcher companion was always amusing.
While I’m still on the topic of the game’s visuals, I thought now would be the best time to talk about a glaring issue with Darksiders 3- all the lovely bugs you’ll face. No I’m not talking about the bug enemies you’ll have to slay, I obviously mean the glitches that plague this game.
These glitches come in both the form of visual and audio and can get very distracting throughout the course of the game. As you move the camera around, you’ll notice some surfaces appear as plain white, then the actual surface appears quickly. Considering you’ll be moving the camera around a lot, you’ll notice this visual torture regularly.
There are also some problems with the audio. As you approach some sections, the Makers Forge being one of them, the audio sounds jumpy, but luckily it only last a couple of seconds. It still tends to happen with every session I had with the game.
There were actually a couple of incidents where the sound actually went silent, and there were annoying ‘pop’ sounds coming from my TV. When I went to the home screen of PS4, the audio problems remained. It wasn’t until I quit out of the game, that the audio problems disappeared, and I had to return back and redo certain sections again.
Darksiders 3 Review Summary
While it seems like I’ve torn this game apart for its lack of originality and technical issues, I still felt that same addiction you feel when playing these type of games. There are other games out there that do it better, but because Darksiders 3 is a more toned-down version, I didn’t feel the tension as much and was able to relax more and simply enjoy the action.
Exploring each area also still carried that same satisfaction, with items being scattered all over the place to collect. My favourite part of Darksiders 3 was spending my souls and getting stronger, as it was always satisfying jumping back into the action and destroying my enemies.
Also back-tracking and using my new abilities to reach new areas was always exciting. I can never get enough of it. Even though other games may do it better (just like the combat), it’s still good enough to be enjoyable and I certainly did enjoy my time, even though it is the weakest Darksiders game in the series so far.