Ahh, Darksiders 3. I’ve taken my sweet time getting to it but I’ve got there in the end. Darksiders III is the return of a series beloved by a relatively small but passionate fanbase, a series that always managed to punch above its weight. The original Darksiders riffed heavily from the 3D Zelda games and was a decent impression of its dungeon-delving, gear-gated formula, if not nearly on the same level as much of Zelda’s finest. Darksiders 2 leaned a little more into some light action-RPG fare, delivering a pretty intoxicating mix of pseudo-open-world adventuring, loot gathering and leveling up.
Evidently a series not content to sit on its backside, Darksiders 3 pulls off its own trick, eschewing the previous two games for a Souls-ish interconnected world with more deliberate combat and a fairly linear structure. It’s the third rework in three games, although it’s beginning to look a whole lot like Darksiders is a franchise far more comfortable with cribbing from its peers that forging its own path.
Despite that, what we have with Darksiders 3 is a passable rendition of what’s currently in vogue for action games. It’ll never challenge you as certain other games of its ilk will but there’s a certain thrill to this slightly barebones jaunt through a post-apocalyptic world. Darksiders 3 is a game that moves at pace. You won’t be butting your head against a rock-hard boss for an entire afternoon. It’s always onwards and upwards in a quest to destroy the Seven Deadly Sins, while fans of succinct experiences will be please it clocks in about 14-16 hours.
This time around the protagonist is Fury, a new member of the Four Horse(wo)men of the Apocalypse crowbarred in. In events that run parallel to the prior two games once more, Fury has been ordered by the Charred Council to take down the Seven Deadly Sins. She’s a much nimbler combatant than Death or War, capable of quickly rolling around enemies, leaping into the air, and generally being an immensely irritating and stabby fly for the poor cast of demonkind. Fury’s much weaker for it though, and if you’re not careful she can be killed off in rapid time by some of the more powerful foes. The one downside to all of this is Fury is, sometimes, a little too agile, leading to some erratic camera management during some of the more hectic fights. When Darksiders 3 reins in its ambitions a little then it really does work though, and there’s a certain joy to be had in picking apart a group of demon soldiers.
Progression in Darksiders 3 is fairly by the numbers. It’s a mix of the aforementioned combat, some light puzzle-solving and a smattering of platforming, even if the puzzling and platforming is miraculously uninspired at times and rarely poses much challenge whatsoever.The real meat is in the combat but it does all help to provide a varied campaign that moves at a satisfying clip. While a lot of the enemies feel familiar there’s a decent mix of encounters and types, each demanding to make use of a growing toolset of abilities. They’re also broken up by the Seven Sins boss fights, most coming with their own gimmick. Greed, for example, has giant piles of treasure which he leaps onto, hurling objects at Fury. A few, like Wrath, can be pretty bog-standard damage sponges with easily telegraphed attacks. Each, in theory, ties into their relevant sin, such as Sloth who is carried atop a throne by little big minions.
All in all, Darksiders 3 feels like an incredibly safe game. There’s precious little to elevate Darksiders 3 to the level of the previous two games, let alone its peers in 2018. It’s a game that offers few surprises, few challenges, and few moments of greatness. What it does, it does to a satisfactory level and never kicks on from there.
But there’s something about Darksiders 3 that still sort of works though. It’s a B-tier production, without a shadow of a doubt, but it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t actually come along all that often these days. Fans of the series will no doubt get a kick out of the continuing story and there’s just enough here to help Darksiders 3 stand out and make for an entertaining playthrough. It’s no God of War, but it’s not the harbinger of the apocalypse either.