Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Gunfire Games
Three games into the Darksiders series (or four, if you want to count Genesis, which I can?t say that I do), I?ve noticed a pattern: I start playing the game, I?m indifferent to it at best, then I come back to it later and enjoy it. That was the case with the first Darksiders, it was the case with the second, and, now that Darksiders III has arrived on the Switch, it?s the case for the third game as well.
That said, in this case ?enjoy” encompasses a wide range of responses. In the case of the first Darksiders, I liked it because it was a near-perfect blend of God of War and Legend of Zelda that I still remember fondly. In the case of Darksiders III, by contrast, it means that I liked it because it provided some moderately fun hack & slash gameplay — but there?s very little chance it?ll stand out in my memory years from now as a classic of the genre.
A big part of this is because of what my colleague Tyler noted about the game back when it first came out on PS4 and Xbox One: it?s very one-note. The main character is one of the four horse(wom)en of the apocalypse, Fury, and as you can probably guess, her defining trait is that she?s angry all the time. And that?s literally all there is to her.
To be fair, the original God of War games showed you can get a fair amount of mileage from a character whose sole trait is unrelenting anger. But at the same time, a half-dozen or so God of War games later, that well is pretty much dry. Fury is fun to play as smaller chunks, which is how I ended up playing Darksiders III, but it also makes it feel like a bit of a slog at times.
The game also isn?t helped by some questionable design choices. First and foremost, there?s no map of any kind; in its place, there?s a compass pointing above you in the general direction you have to go. Consequently, the game simultaneously feels very linear (since it?s always funneling you towards your next point) and very confusing (since many of the locations tend to look pretty uniform, it?s easy to wind up backtracking unintentionally). I would have thought those two traits were mutually exclusive, but apparently not.
The other big annoyance is the few-and-far-between save points. Darksiders III is very stingy about letting you pick up wherever you last left off, and it?s not always clear when the game has saved your progress, or when you?ll come back to it and discover you?ve lost about fifteen minutes. If the game was insanely fun, that may not be an issue, but as I said above, there?s a lot of mindless hacking and slashing here, so adding more of it isn?t a huge mark in the plus column.
I realize this review can basically be boiled down to ?I liked Darksiders III, and here?s several paragraphs on why it wasn?t that good” — and even I see the contradiction. But honestly, the game is so shallow that that?s really what you need to know about it. Darksiders III is fun in small bursts, but also very shallow, and the more of it you play, the shallower it feels.
THQ Nordic provided us with a Darksiders III code for review purposes.