Those ‘old style’ action games that were commonplace about a decade ago are more of a rarity these days. On this generation of consoles Nier: Automata has really made a huge impact for a genre that was the go-to. Having never played the previous entries I wasn’t too sure what Darksiders actually was but after having played Darksiders III I’m glad there are other developers keeping these kinds of action games alive.
Since I haven’t played the previous games I was a little lost when it came to the story. Outside of the fact War and Death were the previous two protagonists I went in with no knowledge. Nobody to blame but myself but I’m going to mention in advance I recommend catching up if you want more than the basic idea of what’s happening. In this third instalment our protagonist this time is the Horseman Fury. Tasked with hunting down the Seven Deadly Sins you will spend the majority of the time tracking them down and fighting them. Other story elements reveal themselves as the game progresses but the real fun lies in the fights.
Combat is hack and slash styled. At the start you will only have Fury’s whip at your disposal, all combos are performed off one button but you can vary moves by spacing presses. After you progress you will unlock ‘hollows’ that allow you to take on an element with unique abilities and a secondary weapon alongside it which can be used with a separate button. As an example of what they offer; the first hollow grants you duel blades and a third jump with fire based special attacks. The second hollow grants lightning infused attacks with a spear and the ability to glide.
Each hollow also has unique Wrath options. Wrath is essentially an upgraded state Fury can enter after maxing our it’s bar for massive damage increase. There are others that you unlock as the story progresses with their unique uses. Hollows can be switched on the go which is very useful and allows you to mix up your abilities on the go. Fury also has a type of ultimate ability called Havoc mode in which she enters an invincible state, rapidly gains health and deals high amounts of damage, allowing you to turn the tide in a losing battle.
While the combat system is well done the enemies themselves can be quite annoying. Fighting groups can be made a bit annoying since perfectly timed dodges allow you to perform a counter attack however it lock on to the enemy that attacked you. Which is all good but if you’re surrounded performing a counter just usually lands you a hit to the back of the head. It also appears there’s some sort of power scaling since you never really get stronger than your enemies. Fury will always die in a few hits and this isn’t even on the harder difficulties.
Upgrading damage also seems to have minimal effects. I wouldn’t really have gripe with it but it’s almost to the point you never feel like you’re getting stronger and really downplays the fact you’re supposed to be a feared Horseman of the Apocalypse. While it’s good that the game punishes you heavily for getting hit I would at least like to feel like I’m getting stronger when I upgrade damage. Especially since you have to farm currency by collecting clusters of it from bodies or defeating enemies.
Darksiders III’s world is semi-linear but it allows backtracking and some amount of exploration. Various checkpoints scattered around allow you to fast travel back to previous ones in areas you want to re-visit and you’re not always required to head straight to the next boss. Each area has its own theme such as the run down, overgrown city that you begin in or the insect infested tunnels that lead out from the subway. Exploration of these areas is definitely encouraged as it can lead to hidden resources for upgrades or humans to save which kind of act as collectibles while providing rewards as incentive every so many.
Outside of exploring these areas for loot and hidden areas you’ll be slashing your way through enemies to progress to the next area most of the time but in some cases you’ll have to solve some environmental puzzles. Usually they involve using your hollows to interact with specific things like burning webs with flames to trigger a switch and hitting another before the flames reach said switch. Others are more simple like feeding a bug colour coded ‘fruit’ that makes it explode and capable of destroying certain obstacles associated with that colour. Even though there isn’t a massive amount to the exploration, the fact it’s there when the game could’ve easily been way more linear is appreciated. There are a few things that bothered me though like the game having to stop and load the next area I was entering way too often and at times I would get stuttering which got worse upon entering combat.