Does the third entry in Gunfire Games’ apocalyptic saga do enough to atone for its sins? Or has its day of reckoning come? Find out in our Darksiders 3 review.
It’s been six years since Darksiders 2 was released. In that time THQ and Vigil Games (the teams responsible for the first two Darksiders) were sold or closed down, which made it seem unlikely that we would ever see Darksiders 3. THQ was acquired by Nordic games and became THQ Nordic, while many of the Vigil team found a new home at Gunfire Games. It only makes sense that Gunfire Games would be the team to develop a third Darksiders game.
Darksiders 3 brings us back to the apocalypse and introduces us to the third horsemen, Fury. A mage who wields a whip as her main weapon and can change between force forms known as hollows. The Charred Council was founded to make sure that the eternal battle between heaven and hell is never won. Whenever there is an upheaval in this balance, the Council brings in one or all four of the horsemen to investigate and exact retribution. Darksiders 3 lets you hack and slash your way as Fury to stop the living manifestations of the seven deadly sins from disrupting the delicate balance between good and evil.
An interesting thing about the Darksiders games is that the stories aren’t traditional sequels, the games all take place roughly in the same time frame. As our story starts we find the protagonist of the first game, War in chains awaiting judgment from the Charred Council for starting the Apocalypse. Fury is unmoved by her brother’s imprisonment and could care less that he was set up, she wants to be the leader of the Horsemen and War is one less obstacle she would have to deal with in her social climb.
Fury has fast become my favorite of the Horseman, her combat style reminded me a bit of Bayonetta and pre-ax Kratos. She is a fun and challenging character to master with plenty of tools of destruction that can be enchanted and upgraded, retaining the RPG feel of the past games. Controlling Fury is very user-friendly and fluid, fights are executed with simple button mashing attacks and dodging. With that being said, the game is quite difficult, you will die several times but it’s oh so satisfying once you finally learn the rhythms of the Sins and which of Fury’s weapons and abilities are needed to defeat them.
Equally important as knowing your weaponry, is becoming one with Fury’s Hollows. Not only are they instrumental in traveling throughout the Darksiders 3 world, but they also give Fury different powers and movements when equipped. I don’t want to get too in-depth with the Hollows here, it’s so much fun discovering their uses on your own. Switching between them is a breeze, which is good as you sometimes need to string them together in battle and travel.
One thing that took me a lot to get used to was the fact that there is no map to give you direction. Instead, a single skull acts as a point of interest on a compass to help lead you to where the Sins are located. This forces you to explore and get lost, which leads to discovering hidden loot or areas that you may have missed. I can understand and respect the lack of maps, but playing under the constraints of a timed embargo really made me long for a map. Luckily, our old friend Vulgrim is back to offer his services of wares, a soul exchange for upgrades program, and Serpent Holes which act as fast travel points to past visited areas.
Another little Darksiders 3 quirk that takes some adjusting to is the sometimes wonky camera angles and tiny FOV. It especially becomes claustrophobic when locking on to an enemy, you can see very little of what’s going on around you.
Now, it could just be that I’m a graphics snob, but the PS3 looking graphics of Darksiders 3 makes me wonder if production on the game started at Vigil shortly after the second game. The artists and level designers have done a fine job of creating a lovely environment but graphically the game doesn’t look up to the current gen’s standards despite the fact I was playing on a PS4 Pro and a 65” 4K TV. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hideous, nor does it detract from gameplay and could probably be fixed with a shiny new 4K / HDR patch in the future.
The musical score is very minimalist but usually kicked in at the proper times to heighten suspense or the threat of danger. The sound effects were very good, I could hear the crack of Fury’s whip as well as the direction danger was coming at me. However, I did experience an issue with the sound where it would break up or becoming static throughout the entire game.
Unfortunately, the sound was not the only issue I had with Darksiders 3. You know, I can look past the frame rate drops and the occasional freezing but for me, the game was nearly unplayable as I began to experience crashes about the time I reached the Hollows. These weren’t just ordinary crashes, what I experienced nearly broke the game for me as once I restarted, I usually lost big chunks of my gameplay, including boss fights. The crashes lessened as I progressed but after backtracking through hours of gameplay, I lived in constant fear that it would happen again. It also appears that the game performs worse on the PS4 Pro than it does a standard PS4.
Even with all of the issues that plagued my play-through, I love Darksiders 3. I had so much fun with it that it kind of breaks my heart because I know that it is so much better than the final score I’ve bestowed upon it. I truly hope they patch the game soon, I would be willing to re-evaluate my score at a later date if the proper fixes are patched in.
The Seven Deadly Sins not only provides super cool boss fights, but it is also the perfect plot point to introduce into the Darksiders lore. Darksiders 3, in my opinion, was the most coherent and interesting story of the three games. Fury is a great character that we not only see her grow physically, but she also showed great character development by accepting the importance of the humanity that she once looked upon in disdain. I didn’t feel the two previous Horsemen showed as much personal growth. The ending definitely leaves the door open for Darksiders 4 starting Strife, but what I want is more Fury.
It’s flawed, it has issues, and it doesn’t reinvent the series, but Darksiders 3 is fun, and isn’t that why we play games in the first place?
Darksiders 3 Review code provided by the publisher.
Darksiders 3 is out November 27.