Darksiders Genesis is an unlikely but massively successful spin off from THQ's third person hack and slash series; a loot-tastic and instantly enjoyable romp that absolutely deserves to be considered a highlight of the franchise
There's something wonderful in the simplicity of the design, with a top down view and a pair of immediately capable protagonists that empower you from the outset. This is a game that completely understands the importance of placing mechanics at the forefront. Despite the controls taking a moment of adjustment before they truly fall into place, it won't be long before you're switching between Strife and War with reckless abandon, each offering a balance between ranged and close quarter combat.
Level design is fairly open, with a clear mainline path that provides plenty of distractions to take you away from your primary objective. There's a recurring level of physicality present throughout, with alternate routes accessed by destroying sections of scenery, and plenty of loot filled crates just waiting to be busted open. The whole thing feels responsive in a way that these types of games often lack, and that absolutely extends to the combat.
The enemy specific execution animations are immensely satisfying, but don't expect to wade through hordes of creatures with ease. You can be quickly overwhelmed if you don't make use of your trusty Horseman steed, or accidentally get bogged down in one particular spot. A combination of potions, modifiers, and new moves picked up throughout your travels keeps things fresh. At it's core, it retains the hack and slash sensibilities of the mainline series, but the shift in perspective, campaign co-op, and renewed emphasis on tight combat encounters coalesce into a polished package.
Speaking of multiplayer, the option for local and online play is an extremely welcome inclusion, and something the previous Darksiders games have bizarrely overlooked. When you're dipping in solo, you can switch between both characters at will. Both set ups work flawlessly, and crucially, campaign progress is retained for the guest player whenever they join via the internet. Take notes Ubisoft: THIS is how campaign co-op is supposed to work.
Technically speaking, the game is a looker, and ran well despite the action getting pretty heated. Environmental detail, art design, and of course, the lead characters themselves, have a grim, detailed aesthetic. Although the storyboard style animated cut scenes are visually distinctive, the move away from fully animated cutscenes is a tad disappointing, especially as the character designs are so on point. Fortunately, the voice acting is wonderful, and really adds to the overall production value.
The bottom line is Darksiders Genesis isn't the quick spin off sequel that some darker corners of the interwebz dismissed it as upon its reveal. It's a fully fledged Darksiders game, with satisfying combat, a significant amount to see and do, and an extremely welcome multiplayer option that elevates the whole experience. This one is highly recommended.
Darksiders Genesis launches on 5th December 2019 for PC and Google Stadia, and PS4, Xbox One, and Switch on 14th February 2020.
We reviewed the game on PC, with an advance copy provided by THQ Nordic.