The Darksiders series has, from its beginning, been one that borrows ideas and mechanics from other games. The first game strongly evoked Ocarina of Time with big dungeons and items that once collected allowed the character to reach new areas. Darksiders 2 seemed to lean more towards RPG mechanics and an almost Diablo esq loot system. This borrowing of mechanics and concepts is not a bad thing inherently. Both games were fun and felt fresh despite following in the footsteps of other titles. Darksiders 3 also does this very successfully while simultaneously feeling incredibly different than both of the games that came before it.
In Darksiders 3 all hell is breaking loose, the Seven Deadly Sins have gotten out, and you playing as the Horseman Fury have been tasked with putting them back in their place. What this concept sets up is a series of boss fights that come at the end of traversing unique areas of a larger world. The different areas the game sets up interconnect on each other via shortcuts that the player will usual stumble across towards the end of traversing an area. Some of these connections require upgrades that the game dolls out at set story intervals, others are just a conveniently placed elevator.
If any of that sounds familiar that’s seemingly intentional. Darksiders 3 is borrowing heavily on concepts from Dark Souls. The combat is very deliberate with animation priority being an actual concern for the first time in the series. Charging into an area and trying to mash through a group of enemies is almost always a recipe for a quick demise and the boss fights require patience, pattern recognition, and some tight timing on attacks and dodges. Healing takes time and captures your character in a specific animation. The combat feels both very familiar (because of the Souls esq nature of it) and very foreign (because the other Darksiders games are very different).
The combat does feel satisfying once you manage to get the flow and timing of it all down. The characters upgrades, or Hollows as they are called, create unique puzzle like elements to the area traversals and come with their own fun new weapons to mix in with Fury’s standard whip weapon. The story itself is straightforward but does have a nice little twist that I didn’t necessarily see coming.
My only knock against this title is really the pacing. The game really feels good once you have acquired all four Hollows. At that point they are all used in puzzles and traversal in really neat and unique ways. The last two major areas of the game felt the best because I was being asked to use Hollows in combination with each other. It felt like just as the game was really getting going in that way I was reaching the last two boss fights and then it was all over. I kind of wish it had front loaded the Hollows a bit more and then called upon them for puzzle solving and traversal for a larger portion of the game.
It is also worth noting here if you aren’t a fan of the speed and animation priority of the Souls like games a new combat mode was added to Darksiders 3 after launch. This mode essentially allows you to play in a more classic Darksiders style where you can dodge cancel in the middle of an animation and heal/use items instantly. If playing a “Souls like” game was an initial turnoff for you this mode likely fixes the things that will most frustrate many players.
Pacing complaints aside I had a great deal of fun with Darksiders 3. The combat is difficult but satisfying and now offers even more options for those that may not want to fight with the initial combat concept. The abilities and weapons granted by each Hollow felt unique and using those abilities in traversal was a blast. Each of the boss fights took advantage of the character traits of the Deadly Sin in creative ways and defeating each was a satisfying and triumphant moment for me. If you enjoyed the first two Darksiders games or are just in the mood for a character action game with a really sassy female lead I recommend giving Darksiders 3 a whirl.
*The Mommy Gamers were given a copy of Darksiders 3 free for review purposes.