I’ve now played all the games in the Darksiders series, and I have to say it’s one of the more interesting ones out there. The plot line deals with the 4 horsemen maintaining the balance between the forces of good and evil, with humans stuck somewhere in the middle. Each game in the series emulates a particular genre, and focuses on a particular horseman. For the most part, this works, but emulation is not replication.
The first game dealt with War and was in line with the Zelda series in terms of open world, unlocking skills, and world traversal. It was the most puzzle focused of the series, and had the cleanest of plot lines. Ironically, in terms of timelines, its the last one – setting the stage for all 4 horsemen to come out and play.
The second game dealt with Death and was a mashup of God of War’s combat with Diablo’s itemization. Worked well enough, and the plot line really expanded on the world.
The third dealt with Fury and tried to be more like Dark Souls, but instead focused on parry attacks. The world building was ok, Samael in particular was top notch, and the end scenario was unexpected given the character growth. Looks amazing, but the gameplay got dry pretty quick.
Finally, the 4th game deals with Strife and is more in like with a twin-stick shooter (since Strife has guns). Well, the game is actually a duo-game, since you can freely swap to War (melee focus) or play local coop. There’s some exploring and puzzle work, and some backtracking if you want to unlock everything. Even an arena mode to test your combat skills.
The only downside I have with this game is the locked in camera angle. If you’ve played Diablo, you know that there are somethings that you simply cannot see due to the world geometry. Which, fine in a 2D world (Diablo has no vertical portions). Darksiders has a lot of vertical aspects, and some portions are really hard to figure out without trial and error. Main game, no real issues. Exploring the world, painful. There’s one set of puzzles in the Void (SW portion) that requires accurate platform jumping and is so poorly executed that I’ve rarely been that frustrated. We’re talking Tidus’ Chocobo Race in FFX levels of frustrating. Thankfully, it only provides an achievement – entirely skippable.
The story line isn’t very good – you’re basically chasing Lucifer and aided by Samael along the way, but never get to see behind the curtain as to why. Meh. The combat makes up for it, as it can be a ton of fun to take out wide piles of various enemies with your skills. A fully upgrade Strife is a walking death dealer – and the arena really shows that off. The bosses all have some interesting mechanics, though often pad the length with spawns of trash to clear. Knowing when to dodge/parry is key to survive.
The really interesting bit here is the skill orb system. Enemies have a chance of dropping a skill orb, and the more orbs you get, the higher their level (up to 3). There are ok skills and amazing skills. +3% to special attacks is meh, but having chain explosions upon death of an enemy is like setting fireworks. There’s a slotting mechanism too, where you only get the level bonus of the orb based on the slot. So a level 3 orb in a level 1 slot only gets level 1 bonus. Further, slots have a type (attack/wrath/health) which when matched with the right orb provides a % bonus to that stat. That makes an insane difference.
By the end of the game I had a few decent skills, then I decided to clear out the arena levels (20 + 1 infinite). Clearing that ended up maxing out most of my orbs so that by the time I was at the infinite stage, I felt like a god. I really enjoyed the min/maxing portion – it didn’t feel tedious. It would be something entirely for Diablo 4 to emulate this system – with some further refinement it would bridge the gap between Path of Exile’s massive tree and D3’s simplistic slotting.
The Darksiders series has never been a AAA series, and I am just fine with that. Genesis does a solid job and providing non-stop fun, and that’s all that matters in the end.