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Darksiders: Genesis takes the series in a Diablo-inspired direction

Darksiders has had a lot of ups and downs over the years, in no small part due to the closure of THQ essentially leaving the series in limbo for a while. With the founding of THQ Nordic, the series has been able to continue. While Darksiders 3 wasn’t quite the hit people were hoping for after such a long absence, the series is still carrying on with its latest entry titled Darksiders: Genesis.

Developed by Airship Syndicate, a studio formed by the remnants of Vigil Games (the original developers of the Darksiders series), including founder Joe Madureira, and the makers of Battle Chasers: Nightwar back in 2017, Genesis is a prequel set before the events of the first game that follows War and Strife. It’s an isometric action-RPG (think Diablo) that can be played cooperatively, a definite shift from the usual third-person action games the rest of the series has been. The demo ran us through a snowy area a little ways into the game. The duo is there searching for leads on Lucifer, the villain of Darksiders: Genesis.

The developer running our demo started off by playing Strife, who’s portrayed as a jokey sort of character: the comic relief to War’s serious demeanor, essentially. Strife, being a gunslinger, plays like a twin-stick shooter would. He’s a more ranged character, as such, though he has a few melee skills available. War plays just like he did in the first game, by contrast, relying more on getting right up in the enemies’ faces. You can swap between the two at any time in solo play, which seems like it could potentially help with crowd control depending on the situation.

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Combat looks to strike a good balance between depth and simplicity. Apart from your basic attacks, both characters have a selection of skills they can equip to use in battle at any time. There’s also a state called “hotstreak” that, when activated, makes your character stronger for a limited time. For Strife, that meant his guns could now fire a large, continuous beam of energy for the duration of hotstreak. The meter builds over time in combat and automatically kicks in once full. The developers explained this was so people would use this ability rather than sit on it forever waiting for the right time to deploy it.

As they moved forward they had to navigate a fair amount of rudimentary platforming sequences and some light puzzle solving. One example showed them having to open a door by pulling down a couple of levers. Hardly noteworthy solo, but played cooperatively, one person would have to keep a switch held down while the other pressed onward to pull the switch on the other side of the door so their partner could cross. Simple stuff, sure, but it’s not hard to imagine how obstacles could (hopefully) become more complicated in co-op.

The snowy space soon gave way to a forge, lava flowing below and machines worked tirelessly. It was here that they encountered the boss of the area: Mammon, a demon with a particular lust for coin — as evidenced by the mountains of gold resting in the vault in which he resides. He particularly liked to hide in said gold, as well as summon clones of himself. Once defeated, he dropped a core, an item you can equip to enhance your characters’ abilities. They can drop from lesser foes as well, the developers suggesting you might try grinding certain enemies for better cores a la loot games.

With the boss down, the demo finished. When asked how big and how long the game is, they said it spanned 17 stages across four areas and is estimated to be around 12 hours. At that length, it should hopefully be easy to fit in amid the avalanche of games that are out before the year’s end. Darksiders: Genesis is currently slated to be out later this year on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Stadia.

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