Darksiders: Genesis Review

Dan Webb

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Darksiders: Genesis was an ARPG. You know, a hack-n-slash loot-em up in the same vein as Diablo or Path of Exile. That's what we initially thought, but when we finally sat down to play Airship Syndicate’s new take on the franchise, what we got was a Darksiders experience with an isometric view that's definitely not a Diablo game. Genesis is a Darksiders experience boasting a new perspective - that’s it. A new perspective that sometimes works and at other times really doesn't.

Darksiders: Genesis sees you jump into the boots of both War and Strife, years before the events of the original Darksiders game. There’s a plot brewing in Hell and it’s up to you, as 50% of the Four Horsemen, to explore the underworld and get to the bottom of Lucifer’s dastardly plan. It’s typical Darksiders cookie-cutter fare, to be perfectly honest. Entertaining, but hardly very gripping.

Like all Darksiders games, Genesis has a bit of everything in there. It’s got some light puzzling, some chaotic combat sequences, a bit of platforming, and a sprinkling of exploration. All of which usually work perfectly from a third-person view, being able to manipulate the camera and all that. From an isometric viewpoint, they do not.

There’s a reason that games like Diablo and its ilk – that adopt a top-down, isometric view – don’t do platforming. It's because it simply doesn’t work. And I mean, at all. The platforming sections in Darksiders: Genesis are some of the most frustrating moments I have ever experienced in a video game. Ever. And that’s not an exaggeration either.

Combat wise, Genesis works a lot like a Diablo game, in fact. The key difference is that it lacks the two real ingredients that make a game like Diablo so alluring – loot; and creating new builds and seeing how they evolve. Darksiders: Genesis doesn’t really have a lot in the way of evolution, with only slightly more combos and attacks on offer as you level up. Diablo/isometric adventure games usually rely on that evolution to stop the gameplay growing stale.

Unfortunately, as Darksiders only has a few evolutions on how things look and feel, the gameplay does tend to get a little mindless. Genesis does mix things up with a good variety of enemies and bosses, though, so that’s something it’s got going for it… although it did have one of the worst bosses I’ve fought in quite some years, which was essentially a big rotating steam valve that spews corrosive gunk.

The isometric view also throws into light more issues with visibility. As often is the case with ARPGs and the like, quite often developers will put scenery in the foreground that fades out when you pass through it. Airship Syndicate does not, instead choosing to make you an luminous silhouette behind said obstructive foreground scenery. Okay, that’s great, right? Well, no. Because while you might be visible, your enemies certainly aren’t, which is a glaring design issue that often has you exercising guesswork in the dark. It’s not like you can just move the camera – one that's described as 'dynamic', but is anything but. A glaring oversight if you ask us. On top of that, Genesis has some serious issues with waypointing to boot, meaning you’ll often just feel like you’re traipsing around in the dark.

Darksiders: Genesis marks the first time in the franchise that we finally get our hands on Strife, the mystery Horseman who’s been kept behind the curtain for three games now. It’s hard to see how Strife would actually work in a traditional Darksiders game, truth be told, what with his reliance on his trusty sidearms, but in Genesis, Strife’s twin-stick shootery goodness is actually one of the things that suits the game's new viewpoint. Strife also provides a direct contrast to War’s hack-n-slash oriented style.

This is probably the only instance where Genesis’ isometric view works perfectly. What Strife’s addition also does is introduce co-op to the Darksiders series, enabling players to take control of the two Horsemen. If you do opt to play solo, you’re not at a disadvantage either, as you’re able to switch between them on the fly, taking advantage of each character's two distinctive flavours of gameplay.

We’re all for new takes on existing franchises – spin-offs, new mechanics, new settings, etc. – but there’s just something about Darksiders: Genesis that doesn’t quite hit the spot. That’s not to say it couldn’t be something greater with a big of jiggery-pokery, but in its current state, Darksiders: Genesis is a shadow of the franchise that spawned it. Genesis isn't a bad game by any means, and certainly isn’t without its enjoyable moments; there's simply a lot about Genesis that doesn’t quite work.

Darksiders: Genesis

Darksiders: Genesis is a neat concept with a frankly bizarre execution. While the isometric viewpoint is cool during certain scenarios – namely Strife’s twin-stick shooter gameplay – everything else doesn’t really fit, especially the awful platforming. It’s not a bad game, it’s just not a very good one.

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The original score is bloody excellent. The voice acting isn’t bad either!


Darksiders Genesis is a decent looking game. Nothing more, nothing less.


The combat works fine, the platforming does not.


At times the isometric viewpoint and gameplay are great, at other times both elements make things so unenjoyable you'll wonder what you did to wrong the developer.


Not bad, but not great. Really grindy, encourages a lot of hunting down collectibles, but it does have some cool mid-mission achievements.

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