Darksiders has never taken things by halves. From the word go, the series has plunged players into an over-the-top, extremely stylized version of the Biblical apocalypse, with the Four Horsemen stuck in the middle of an epic conspiracy that runs deep between Angels and Demons alike. Thankfully, Darksiders 3 is no exception, once again ignoring subtlety in favor of full-on action.
As with Darksiders and Darksiders 2, Darksiders 3 gives the player control over another of the Four Horsemen - this time, Fury. As users may expect, Fury's main characteristic is rage, with the character ready to throw herself into a fight. And with Darksiders 3, there's certainly plenty of those ahead of her.
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Once again, Darksiders 3 starts alongside the events of the first Darksiders game, rather than acting directly as a sequel to the main story from the off. The Seven Deadly Sins have been let loose through the unleashing of the apocalypse, and Fury is tasked with bringing the seven back to heel by the Charred Council. This, understandably, is no easy task, with Fury having to traverse the near-destroyed Earth and track down the sins.
A focus on the Seven Deadly Sins gives Darksiders 3 some nice subject matter to work with, particularly given the way that the series has adapted similar aspects of Christian teachings. As expected, there's a fairly solid amount of leeway given to introduce this into the wider Darksiders lore, with the Seven Sins given a cartoonish adaptation in line with the overall design of the series.
All in all, this reimagining is done well. The design of each of the Sins is impressive, with developer Gunfire Games managing to capture the idea of each well within their respective character, from the grotesque, many-teethed form of Gluttony through to the shining, pristine look of Pride. Even more impressive is the way that the studio managed to get variety into the figures, with no two looking alike but instead cutting through to the essence of their characters.
Perhaps the best of the bunch is Lust, eschewing the traditional idea of sexual desire and instead delving into ideas of power. It's no surprise that this is also one of the best sections of the game, as Fury makes her way to the coast, and to the bowels of a ship while fighting off some tough enemies and contending with some difficult platforming along the way. It's also one of the more interesting of the boss battles, with a fun mid-fight switch and an emphasis on reaction and defensive nous.
Aside from the Sins, the standard enemy variety in the game is also generally on point, both in terms of visuals and their attack patterns. Players will need to learn how each enemy type operates, and although there are some similarities between certain enemies, generally each moves and attacks in a different way. This means that quick thinking is vital, particularly when waylaid by groups of different enemies.
In general, learning quickly is key, particularly given that Darksiders 3 has moved ever so slightly closer to the Dark Souls model, building on those minor similarities seen in Darksiders 2. That said, Darksiders 3 is both nowhere near as punishing and also does not allow quite as much control over specific attack loops - with the latter not working in its favor during some of the more intense moments.
What this means however, is that the sheer brute force that players used in previous games might not fly here. Although bludgeoning through is an option, it's much better to play each fight carefully, attacking where possible and dodging around enemy attacks at the opportune time. The gameplay mechanics don't work as well as Dark Souls, nor as well as this year's hack'n'slash standout God of War, but there is a clear attempt to have a similar sense of urgency behind player controls.
There's also this major focus on boss battles as the game's standout feature, and the Seven Deadly Sins fill this void well. Players move from Sin to Sin, travelling through maze-like areas that slowly shift into a style of their own. Although these areas form part of a larger world, in essence each is a dungeon to be defeated in its own right, with each Sin being the beast that lays within. From there, it's onto the next one, meeting new characters, unraveling the conspiracy-riddled plot, and upgrading weaponry and earning levels via souls along the way.
As such, it's not just the combat that's taken a turn towards From Software's design, as the core game layout has also seen a shift. There's an interconnectedness to Darksiders 3 that is similar to the likes of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, almost with a feel of a Metroidvania title, with players unlocking quick routes back as they unlock more and more upgrades at the Maker Tree Haven or from demon merchant Vulgrim. Meanwhile, upgrades known as Hollows - awarded by the Lord of Hollows and highlighted by a change to Fury's hair color - give players different attacks and the ability to move around the world in different ways, such as the magnetic Force Hollow.
These striking visual shifts also truly showcase the beauty of the game. Although perhaps held back a little by a reliance on Warcraft-level shoulder pads and cartoonish faces, the game world of Darksiders 3 is fantastic, with an Earth being taken over by the fantastical. This clash of color and grime is quite something, with plenty of variation to be found, from the glorious underwater sections to the giant Maker Tree that dominates the cityscape.
All in all, Darksiders 3 is an interesting game, but it does feel a bit rustic in comparison to the best games of the year. Its world is vibrant, to be sure, but it lacks the depth of rivals such as Assassin's Creed Odyssey or Red Dead Redemption 2. When compared to the former, it also can't quite compete when it comes to how the combat feels, lacking a visceral nature that has taken root in gaming of late.
Because of this, Darksiders 3 doesn't quite reach the heights set by gaming triumphs such as God of War, and it lacks the total control over player actions so apparent in the games it emulates. Meanwhile, other elements do feel a little out of date, if only by a couple of years. The long-winded puzzles, although less jarring than the previous Darksiders games, do still come across as slightly out of place, sometimes even lacking the satisfaction that players should feel after working out the solution.
When it comes down to it the purest gameplay found in Darksiders 3 is still a lot of fun. The unique game world of the franchise retains that over-the-top, knowing gravitas, and causing carnage at the end of the world is still extremely engaging. Although it may feel slightly old-fashioned at times, those who enjoyed the original games will find lots of love here.
Darksiders 3 releases November 27, 2018 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Screen Rant was provided with a PS4 download code for the purposes of this review.