I can’t believe it’s been six years since we last got to hack-n’-slash our way through a post-apocalyptic title with Angels, Demons, and one of the Four Horsemen with Darksiders II. Now, we get to let our anger out on all the entities that now plague the earth with THQ Nordic’s Darksiders III.
For this installment in the franchise, you play as Fury, the third Horsemen of the Apocalypse and she is definitely a bad-ass protagonist with all the powers she needed stored insider her hilt. When starting you get the sense that Fury just loves to fight and she was born with that instinct, even considering slaying her epic steed just for sport. With this in mind, she was summoned and tasked with the mammoth quest of capturing the seven deadly sins and she has no problem with jumping at the chance.
The core story of Darksiders III involves Fury in her quest to eradicate the sins, but of course there is something much more sinister happening in the background. This is the story that’s been brewing since the first two games and even harkens back to some of the story elements from previous titles. While not a spoiler, there are reasons for her to take on the fellow Horsemen and the evil entity that appears to control them, as Darksider III takes place at the same time as the first game.
As you play and upgrade your character Fury will become easier to use, even if the fighting system has had an overhaul. Combat is much more challenging this time around and it’s recommended if you play for just the story to choose the Story Mode difficulty. Darksiders III insists that you learn the enemies movements and you can just go in and button mash your way to victory, but it will cost you valuable health that you may need further down the line. You need to learn their movements, otherwise each and every single skeleton, Demon, bug, Angel, and monster will end you.
For me this was a very welcome change, similar to a more action focused Dark Souls, with a new timing mechanic initiating a counter move that feels very satisfying to pull off. If you chain the attacks and dodge at the right time your fights will make you feel empowered and godlike. Fury is also able to take on four different forms called Hollows and these different forms give you access to previous inaccessible areas, new weapons, powers, and wrath mode.
Using these forms successfully in battle is essential to your survival as you progress further into Darksiders III. Enemies become stronger, more attack you at once, and new gameplay mechanics are introduced that you need to keep an eye on. Darksiders III ramps up its difficulty in epic style with wonderfully detailed mini bosses and deadly sin bosses. You’ll need to know your character well, especially if you’re playing on one of the harder difficulty modes.
One thing that I appreciated about Darksiders III was the fact that the world feels wide open and organic. Everything is connected, and although fast-travel points are available, I never felt like sections were blocked off just for the sake of being inaccessible. There are tons of treasures to find, many different enemy types to fight through, and minor puzzle segments to break up the gameplay and while it’s not always done successfully, I always found something to like about each gameplay element. This is a world that’s meant to be explored and it is encouraged to go off the beaten path and discover mini bosses guarding loot, perform side-quests, and other activities. The world begging to be explored and it’s fun to traverse its heights and depths in order to progress.
Thankfully, a favorite character has returned from Darksiders II with the demonic merchant Vulgrim. He’s here, as usual, for upgrading your equipment and powers, with you having to pay in the forms of souls. Fortunately, THQ Nordic didn’t include microtransactions so all progress is through your own doing. This was a very immersive experience and once I’d gotten the fighting mechanics figured out, it was much more fun to pull off combos.
My main gripes center around checkpoints being too far apart for my liking and sometimes enemies locking you into a corner. No matter what button you push or what move you perform, nothing can get you out of that corner. Also, there were some framerate issues in some areas and with intense combat, but nothing to be game-breaking. Even with the complaints, I found Darksiders III to be highly fun, addictive, and intriguing to find where the story goes.
The visual style was beautiful with vibrant colors and fluid animations. Environments were sometimes bland and lacked detail, but there were also some jaw-dropping views in the background and things to admire. Musically, the score was epic and fit the action on-screen well and really brought the characters to life.
Overall, Darksiders III is a fun and fast-paced action title with an addictive loot mechanic and intuitive gameplay. If you’re a fan of the franchise or action-adventure titles as a whole, you’ll find a lot to like here. While there were some technical issues and some areas could have used more detail, Darksiders III is a worthy installment and enjoyable to play through.