Darksiders 3 rises from the ashes of its franchise, with the original developer THQ suffering some troubles, being broken off into THQ Nordic and other companies, it was quite the possibility we would never see the series continue. Following the tale of the 4 horsemen, Darksiders set up a dark apocalypse-now world, with each instalment focusing on each of the riders as they work parallel to one another. The series never really hit the big time, being mostly a niche franchise, but with fan uproar and well-received reviews the games have continued on.
Darksiders 3 sees you take on the role of Fury, a woman with a temper which some may relate to a female Kratos. As the only horsemen to actually do their job, Fury is tasked with dealing with the 7 sins that are let loose on earth due to the early-apocalypse started by her brother War. If you have played Darksiders 1 or 2 you will know plenty of the story, as they run alongside one another, so it is no surprise when War tells Fury that they were set up. Though the timeline of D3 is somewhat behind the others, as events do lead up to the previous games, being set around the time of War’s 100-year imprisonment.
Heeding the call of the Charred Council, 3 open-maw godlike beings who command the horsemen, Fury sets off to earth to take down the 7 sins. Moving between familiar locales, water dungeons, because we always need water dungeons, crypts and more Fury will make use of both her athletic talents and that of her whip mastery. Along the way, we will meet up with Vulgrim who once again acts as our store and levelling up merchant. The Lord of Hollows will also act as our quartermaster, giving us new weapons and abilities as we progress.
While D3 mostly follows the same plot of the other games, Fury has a more structured approach as she is taken a direct order from the council to detain the 7 sins. While War and Death do their own thing, uncovering the conspiracy and cleaning War’s slate with the council. Along the way Fury will also struggle with an internal conflict, as she figures out that not everyone has to die, sometimes talking can be beneficial.
The main story will last you around 15 hours, but that will change drastically based on which of the 4 difficulties you choose and your general aptitude with combat and puzzles. Like the previous games, there are plenty of collectables and side-paths to take, from items that increase your power to little objects that unlock achievements. There are only 2 choices in the game that really make any difference, making replays rather pointless, though some may want to play through once or twice to see those outcomes, or merely look up a video.
After the backlash of the insane RPG jump and loot-hoarder mentality of Darksiders 2, D3 throws away the concept of random items and gear, shifting to more of a Darksiders 1 approach to gameplay and progression. As you defeat enemies you gain souls, which you spend on consumable items, levelling up or enhancements to your weaponry. Items come in forms of healing or buffs, increasing your damage, defence or ability gauges.
Levelling up takes an increasing amount of souls, a level will reward you with 1 attribute point which can be used to increase your Health, Strength or Arcana damage. Health goes up around 20 or so each time, with Strength going up around 5% per time, Arcane goes up at a faster rate of 7%. Strength affects your base damage, whereas Arcane affects your counter hits and gauge attacks. The progression slowly lowers the amount they increase, from the % lowering to 4 then 3 as you gain higher stats.
Similar to the previous games, Fury has her own transformation in the form of Havoc mode, where she gets bigger, redder and more dangerous. While in this form she is invulnerable, regains health and can attack in wider areas, dealing more damage. You will need to build this havoc gauge through dealing damage or using consumable items.
Alongside Havoc mode, Fury can also unleash a Wrath attack, which is an attack that cannot be blocked and deals a good amount of damage. Wrath attacks will also change based on Fury’s secondary weapon, from engulfing herself in flames to sending out whirlwinds to hit all enemies. This gauge builds alongside the Havoc gauge, being increased with damage or item use. Combining the two gauge abilities allows for easier combat, though cannot be relied on for whole bosses.
As you progress through the game you will obtain new weapons, or hollows, as a reward for defeating the sins. These will be equipped as secondary weapons and through doing so will change Fury’s wrath attack and her traversal. Walking on fire or water, flying and magnetism are the tools of Fury, allowing her to get to previously inaccessible locales. This approach to progression and traversal feels very reminiscent of Zelda, as you are given the tools to progress within a dungeon. While it is refreshing to gain a new hollow, it can be a pain having to backtrack to the previous locations to find the areas where they were required.
Sharing another similarity, D3 has an almost rogue-like, not gonna say souls-like, approach to death and healing. When you are defeated your souls are dropped into a floating ghost, which will stay in the location of your death to obtain later. These ghosts seemingly never disappear, even after dying several times, so it isn’t much of a hassle. Your main healing also comes from your Nephilim’s Respite, a charged item that heals 2 or more times, increasing charges with collectables. The Respite will also recharge with enough enemy kills, or to full on death. Besides the charged item, you can also use health shards, though those go on cooldown after use whereas the Respite does not.
Fury brings a new set of combos to the table, similarly to her brothers. Rapidly pressing the left click will have her attack normally, holding it down will release a rotating quick attack around her and delayed presses will result in different combos. Mixing in a left click with her whip, Fury can utilise her secondary weapons with the right click, for fast hits or holding down for charged attacks. Sadly the whip doesn’t feel or look too dangerous or impactful, making it one of the least exciting weapons of the horsemen so far.
The music within Darksiders 3 keeps very close to the themes at play as well as the areas in the world. From heavy metallic tunes for war, choirs and strings to coat the larger and more grand scenes to sombre tracks that accompany sadder moments. Sadly, the mixing is a bit off at points, especially in some later levels, as ambient noises and combat overshadow the soundtrack far too much.
Difficulty in Darksiders 3 is several notches higher than the previous games, though this could be more due to how Fury plays than her brothers. She lacks any form of a block, relying on relentless attacks in hopes of a staggering effect or waiting for her opponent to strike so that she may dodge. Plenty of the enemies and bosses are immune to stagger, so it is mostly a waiting game to dodge out of the way of attacks to then return the blow. While the game is a hack n’ slash, the importance placed on dodging and waiting does slow down some more climactic battles.
Darksiders 3 feels very similar to the 1st game, which released back in 2010, though sadly that similarity also bleeds into the style, gameplay and look of D3. In plenty of areas, D3 feels like it should have released 8 years ago, with very archaic looking environments, outdated graphics and old-school gameplay mechanics. There are plenty of pushing block puzzles, gathering 3 swords or hitting buttons to open doors, match the colour puzzles and more that all feel like they belong in the 2000s rather than 2018. While this feeling of nostalgia, as well as a nod to the past, may appeal to older gamers it will most likely put off newcomers and the younger generation.
D3 surprised me with its amount of bugs and glitches, for a smaller world that is mostly linear in design and controlled environments. I was able to fall out of the world in several places, have the game crash completely, enemies become invisible beside their weapons, getting stuck in terrain, enemies freezing in place and some puzzles completely breaking and requiring a game restart. I would have expected plenty of these bugs to be in a free-roam world, not a constrained world.
Overall Darksiders 3 gets an 8/10, it is a fun hack n’ slash experience with plenty of nods to the 1st game while removing some of the controversial mechanics of the 2nd. The story has several threads and doesn’t feel too stagnant, with plenty of hooks and twists to intrigue the player, but still falling into some traps as we know plenty of outcomes due to being set before the other games. There are too many bugs for my liking, alongside the difficulty feeling a bit unfair in some parts. Progression is solid, if a bit small in comparison to D2, and can feel somewhat pointless as the levels get higher but the bonuses get lower.
Darksiders 3 is developed by Gunfire Games, published by THQ Nordic and runs on the Unreal Engine.