It's been over 6 years since Vigil Games' incredible post-apocalyptic franchise last saw a new release. This time around, Gunfire Games has taken the reins so does this new studio have what it takes to reinvigorate the series?
I'm a huge Darksiders fan. I got into the series a bit late as I picked up the original a year or so after it came out and it absolutely blew my mind how good it was. A year or so later, I picked up the sequel along with a brand new Wii U on launch day and although I didn't have as much fun with it, I still thoroughly enjoyed the epic adventure with Death. So, you can imagine my excitement when they announced that Darksiders III was releasing. Now that I've played through it, I'm a bit disappointed but I still can't deny that the adventure was definitely a memorable and addictive one.
Darksiders III stars Fury, yet another horseman of the apocalypse. Her sharp tongue and fiery attitude make her a perfect anti-hero; a lot like her brothers War and Death. As the story unfolds, you'll meet plenty of characters both familiar and fresh while Fury's journey helps shape her into a more well-rounded character. Meeting all of the new characters is exciting because each one has a strong personality, striking appearance, and spot-on voice actor. Because of this, watching the cutscenes play out is a joy and I didn't feel like skipping any like I usually do in games like this. Along the same lines, the boss fights are incarnations of the Seven Deadly Sins and although they're not as cartoonish as you'd expect, their sinister attitudes make beating the crap out of them all the more satisfying.
Controlling Fury in Darksiders III is intuitive and fluid. As you progress, you'll acquire new abilities and forms. Shifting between these forms is crucial for making progress as they allow you to leap to higher ledges, walk on water, travel up wind gusts, and roll around on walls like Samus Aran. Each form has a distinct secondary weapon and you can also throw a boomerang-like blade that you can infuse with each of the forms' elements in order to solve puzzles as well as use Fury's whip sword to swing from certain installations. Even though all of this is handled well, War and Death had much more comprehensive move sets and traversal options open to them so controlling Fury may be fun but it unfortunately pales in comparison to the gameplay featured in the previous 2 games.
Meet the bosses: Seven Deadly Sins
The boss fights in Darksiders III are incredible so watch me beat their devilish asses in the following YouTube videos:
The combat in Darksiders III basically involves whipping enemies then timing dodges in order to avoid damage. If you manage to dodge at the right moment, you can cause some extra damage to your foes. Meanwhile, you can enter 2 different more powerful states whenever their appropriate meters are full. The first one corresponds to your current form and the other is basically an all-out Super Saiyan mode that allows you to recharge health and unleash all hell on your foes. It's satisfying stuff but what's even more rewarding is the character growth system. You can level up by gathering enough souls which allows you to spend points on base stats, improve your weapons to be more powerful, and hone Enhancements that you can equip to your weapons to give them some extra oomph.
One of the best aspects of Darksiders III is its large and interconnected world. It reminded me a great deal of how the environments in the Dark Souls series are structured. You'll unlock shortcuts, solve puzzles, discover secrets, and even find powerful guardians that you can kill for rare items. Each environment is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth so you'll see many familiar sights yet everything is now destroyed which is nothing short of engaging. Taking advantage of machinery in a dilapidated refinery and traversing sprawling underwater areas feels great. When you factor in the rewarding goodies just waiting to be discovered, you're looking at one satisfying game world.
Unfortunately, in its current state, Darksiders III is full of bugs and performance issues that frequently get in the way of the gameplay. For starters, you'll find the action regularly stalling so it can load and you'll witness plenty of texture pop-in and many more graphical oddities. When it comes to glitches, I experienced more than I'm willing to write about but allow me to explain a couple of stand-out bugs. Once, I fell through the floor but the gameplay seemed unaffected so I moved around a little then the camera jumped back up and I was playing normally again. Finally, near the end of the campaign, I activated a key piece of machinery then died. After restarting at the checkpoint, I couldn't activate it again and I never figured out how to get past this part. If I ever do, I'll definitely let you know.
If Darksiders III spent a bit longer in development then it would have been almost on par with the previous games in the series. Its action is intense and the characters are phenomenal but the amount of glitches is definitely hard to ignore.
- + Solid action gameplay set in a memorable and large interconnected world
- + Fantastic cast of characters and bosses
- + Rewarding character growth and exploration
- - Tons of performance issues and bugs; some of which may be game-ending
- - Core gameplay simply doesn't live up to its predecessors