‘DarkSiders III’ Review

The Horsemen Cometh


Fury in DarkSiders III | Photo by: THQ Nordic

Chuck Sipps, Arts and Life Editor

“Darksiders III”(DS3), developed by THQ Nordic, is a throwback to AA games of yore. It ranks somewhere between the AAA titles gamers have come to expect and the A games we’ve come to know from smaller development teams. It is a perfectly adequate game that scratches the Metroidvania itch for those gamers who don’t own a Switch to play the genuine article. Unfortunately, DS3’s simplistic combat and story prevent it from reaching the heights of both its predecessors or the games that its mechanics mimic.

The storyline is set in familiar territory for gamers. The Apocalypse has come early to planet Earth. Someone somewhere broke the sixth seal, tricking one of the four DS3’s Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Fury, Death, War, and Strife), War, into coming to earth far too soon. Humanity is not prepared to fight their part in a three-sided war against angels and demons. The Horsemen Fury is called before the Charred Council, a trio of ancient beings tasked with maintaining The Great Balance, informed of War’s “betrayal” and tasked with recapturing the personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins who were released thanks to War’s actions.

DS3 actually serves as a prequel for Darksiders 1 and 2 (DS1&2), with the events of DS1 actually being the most recent. In DS1 players control War, who was released from his eternal prison 100 years after he triggered the Apocalypse. In DS3, we are in the very early days of the Apocalypse. The problem with this, at least from a storyline perspective, is that the audience knows much more about what is going on than Fury. For example, we know War was framed, we know who framed him and we know the Charred Council has been corrupted. Despite this, the writers treat each revelation as significant, though it just doesn’t land for the audience. It would be as if George Lucas tried to shock the audience during the prequel trilogy that Anakin Skywalker was actually Luke’s dad. Yeah, we know George. Plus, they reuse a twist that anyone who has played the first game will see coming from miles away.

The first thing that jumps out when you start playing DS3 is that graphically it leaves a lot to be desired. The graphics are reminiscent of a PS3, though a PS3 rendered version would probably look worse. As you go along, the style of the game becomes more apparent and you stop focusing on the substandard graphics, although it really is jarring at first glance. The world is set up as classic Metroidvania; basically you see sections of the map you can’t reach because you lack the proper equipment to get there but eventually when you do have the item, in DS3 they are called Hollows, you can return and access those areas. For example, there are thick spider webs that you are unable to cut through, but they can be burned away once you receive the Flame Hollow.

DS3 has many minor problems that don’t seem so bad on their own but when looked at as a conclusive whole detract from the experience. The world feels hollow as it is sparsely populated with the same enemy types popping up over and over again. The game experiences frequent hiccups and will freeze for up to 30 seconds waiting for the rest of the map to load. The same voice actors are recycled for multiple characters. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but certain voices used were so distinctive it almost appeared as if the game wanted you to think they were the same characters in disguise. While that did turn out to be the case once, there were at least three other confusing occasions where it wasn’t.

The combat is also pretty limited. While the Hollows unlock new weapons and you gain new combos as you progress, you never really need to do more than button mash and evade. The game’s difficulty modes feel a bit broken as well. As you advance the game’s difficulty, your enemies won’t become more cunning or diabolical. Instead, your enemies’ attacks inflict significantly more damage. For example, if you get hit twice by a lowly grunt it can nearly deplete your fully upgraded health bar.

The greatest sin that DS3 commits isn’t what it is, but what it isn’t. In the original ‘Darksiders’ after defeating the final boss, the seventh seal is broken, prompting War to promise to bring the true Apocalypse to the angels and demons who have ravaged the earth. Behind him, his fellow Horsemen appear and the scene is set for the Four Horseman to ride once more. Unfortunately, rather than deliver on the game that was promised way back in 2012, THQ Nordic seems content to recycle the same experience over and over again. 

“Darksiders III” is awarded 666 potatoes on The Sipps’ Potato Scale.