Darksiders 3 opted to strip itself down a bit when compared to what Darksiders 2 offered, but after spending time with it, the game’s relatively straightforward experience can grow on you if you’re into challenging games that don’t hold your hand. If you wanted more of what you got in the last game though, you will be let down, because this sequel leans more towards a Dark Souls-lite experience than a new Darksiders one.
You can check out my full review below in video form, the script is also embedded after it if you’d prefer reading the review.
Hey now fans of the apocalypse, Matt Heywood here to review Darksiders 3, or what I like to call, a game from another era that’s easy to love and hate at times.
If you’re expecting a more grandiose experience than you got in Darksiders 2, or an open world action-RPG that has close to 100 hours of content like some of 2018’s best reviewed games, then you’ll be a bit disappointed in the more streamlined experience that Darksiders 3 offers. But I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not, because I do think there is still room for a 20+ hour third-person action-RPG in today’s gaming landscape, even though games of that nature don’t really get made these days.
Darksiders 3 definitely feels like it’s from the last era of consoles, and that’s mostly because of its gameplay, and not because it has really crappy, outdated looking visuals. I wouldn’t say it has graphics that will make your eyes drool, but they’re not dated looking either. The world of Darksiders 3 is just kind of bland looking without a ton of detail and color, but again, its visual polish isn’t why it feels like an older type of game.
That stems from the gameplay, which features a linear world connected by tunnels and crevices that become accessible as you earn more powers, which in turn unlock new traversal mechanics so you can progress to new areas. There are a few puzzles to solve to get to new areas too, but I wouldn’t call this a puzzle heavy game in the least. They might make up 5-10% of the exploration gameplay.
Speaking of exploration, there isn’t even a map in this game, so again, it’s a bit stripped down in geographic size when compared to Darksiders 2, or even the original. At first, not having a map concerned me, but over time I actually found the game’s compass, which always points to your next closest boss target, to be wildly effective in leading me around this game’s mapless levels. In fact, I started to appreciate not having to check the map for my next destination, because it kept me focused on the action at hand, and not becoming a cartographer.
This also allows you to explore more freely, and while I wouldn’t say there are tons of hidden paths to track down, there are a few and plenty of pickups to look out for, so the game’s minimalist approach to navigation ends up working very well for the overall design of the game’s world.
While Darksiders 3’s different approach to level design and objective seeking stray from its predecessors, its biggest change is in its combat, which for all intents and purposes is as brutal as it gets. I don’t know if its on Dark Souls’ level, but it has to be close, because this is not a hack and slash type of game. While there is plenty of hacking and slashing with Fury’s various weapons and powers, it must be done with care or you will die often.
This too frustrated me greatly when I first started playing, because you will die against tutorial style enemies if you don’t strategically approach them. Plus, the difficulty scales, so even when you start to get overly powerful, you can still get your ass kicked by a random nobody bad guy.
Like the map issue though, I actually started to appreciate the attention to detail that the combat requires. Once you start to learn each enemy types attack patterns, you can start to see the brilliance in the focused combat gameplay. The hacking and slashing becomes more of a ballet of attacks and counters, so with some patience and practice, the at times punishing gameplay does get a bit rewarding. Plus, with each new Hollow form Fury gains you get even more weapons and powers to try out, so there’s also variety in how you go about hacking and slashing.
This is even more evident in the game’s bosses, which are modeled after the Seven Deadly Sins. Each boss not only looks unique, but their attack patterns are also wildly different. In fact, you will more than likely face each boss multiple times as you try to figure out how to beat them. Some will make you want to punch your own face because they seem invincible at first, but in time light bulbs start to go off, and you figure strategies out, which can lead to feelings of great satisfaction.
Earlier I prefaced that Darksiders 3 is a game that’s easy to both love and hate. You may be wondering what I hated, and I can tell you without skipping a beat that this game has severe checkpoint issues. They’re too spaced out, especially for a few of the bosses, which then leads to you having to backtrack through large sections of a level to get back to a boss that just kicked your ass and probably pissed you off in the process. That cycle of pain is beyond frustrating, and at times it nearly led me to quit.
I hate going up against a tough boss, getting my ass kicked, and then having to replay 5-10 minutes of a level just to get my ass kicked again. It’s a horrible game design mechanic, and one that only tarnishes Darksiders 3’s overall gameplay package. It’s a waste of a gamer’s time, and doesn’t add to the challenge at all, so I don’t understand why the checkpoints had to be so spaced out.
They’re by far the worst aspect of this game, and can ruin it depending on how you deal with gamer rage and stress. Sure the game’s camera is kind of crappy and lazy, and the platforming feels clunky at times, but for all intents and purposes, Darksiders 3’s checkpoint system is its biggest negative by a mile. I can handle the combat difficulty and the learning curve it provides, but I can’t stand stupid game design, and that’s what this game’s checkpoints are.
Darksiders 3 may not have lived up to the hype I built up in my own head for it, but it ultimately provides for a different type of gaming experience in 2018. You don’t need 60 plus hours to invest into it, you don’t have to worry about beating 500 side quests, you don’t even have to pay too much attention to the story because it doesn’t add much to the franchise’s lore until the end. This is just a game meant for gamers who like challenging third-person action-RPG style gameplay, and a relatively straightforward experience.
Darksiders 3 earns a 6.9 out of 10 review score from Team EB. I wouldn’t say it’s a game that you must rush out and play, but if you’re looking for a satisfying experience that is a bit rough around the edges, and doesn’t require too much of your gaming time, then it’s worth considering.
Thanks for watching, Matt Heywood here signing off for EntertainmentBuddha.com, where we make you a better geek, one post at a time.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”