After releasing on PC late last year, Darksiders Genesis has now brought its top-down Diablo-esque adventure over to the Nintendo Switch. It changes things up from the typical Darksiders formula, with more of a focus on dungeon-crawling-style gameplay with a co-operative twist as opposed to the third-person puzzle-adventures we’ve been on previously. It’s a change that works well really well for the most part, though a few performance issues on the Nintendo Switch can make it feel like the inferior console to experience the game on.
Darksiders Genesis takes place before the action of the previous three games, so anyone new to the series should feel right at home. Players lead War, the protagonist from the first game, and newcomer Strife on a battle against Lucifer, a demon king that has threatened to upset the balance of the worlds by granting power to his demonic army. The concept alone is a bit run of the mill, but some behind-the-scenes grudges held by The Horsemen and the comedic (though sometimes cringe-worthy) interactions between War and Strife manage to keep things fresh and interesting throughout.
Darksiders Genesis’ gameplay sees you switching between the two heroes as you battle your way across a variety of levels that are packed full of enemies to kill, platforming segments to traverse through, and puzzles to solve. A balance of the two characters works nicely in combat, with War offering slower attacks that dish out heavy damage and Strife fast-paced combos that aren’t quite as powerful but allow you to act quicker – he also has a gun to dish out some ranged attacks too, which can keep you out of the way of any immediate danger. Each character also comes with additional abilities which can really pack a punch (both visually and from a damage-dealing perspective), whilst their ever-charging battle meter allows them to temporarily unleash a whole world of hurt to their enemies in a new enhanced form.
There’s a whole lot to love in combat and it’s where Darksiders Genesis is really at its best, with the satisfying blend of each character’s capabilities ensuring that each showdown with enemies isn’t only action-packed but full of style too.
Players are able to improve both characters’ abilities by equipping Creature Cores, which are dropped by enemies randomly. These don’t only increase your stats but also equip each character with buffs, which can also be enhanced by collecting more Creature Cores of the same variety. There’s plenty to play around with through the Creature Cores thanks to the variety on offer, whilst the fact you can mix-and-match means you can put together your own ideal build for both War and Strife. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an overly deep system, but it works.
There is one flaw though: the random nature of obtaining the Creature Cores. There’s no guarantee than an enemy will drop a Creature Core, so there’s a bit of luck involved as to how many you’ll get and of what variety. It means you may have to replay levels and grind to find them at times, which could break the pace of the game. It’s a little annoying, but by no means a game-breaking flaw.
Whilst Darksiders Genesis’ combat is brutally satisfying throughout, its platforming and puzzling elements were a little underwhelming. It’s not that either aspect is particularly bad, but instead a bit fiddly. The platforming for example felt clumsy thanks to the demand for precision and the somewhat obstructive camera in-game, which is something that’s made even more difficult when playing on the Nintendo Switch’s small screen. The puzzles on the other hand just felt a little bit too simple in design, whilst the fact that you’ve got to use both characters’ capabilities to solve some of them just made them a bit more awkward when playing in single player.
Of course, you could always play Darksiders Genesis in online co-op multiplayer. This is undoubtedly the best way to experience the game and I had a hell of a good time working through the story with a friend – there’s a big emphasis on co-operative play that’s not always present when playing in single player, so you won’t get to experience some of Darksiders Genesis’ finest moments unless you’re working through it with another player. The action of the game just suits co-op play perfectly, and honestly, it’s one of the most enjoyable co-op experiences I’ve had on my Nintendo Switch for some time.
Despite this, it can be a little difficult to recommend Darksiders Genesis on the Nintendo Switch after comparing it to other platforms. Whilst it’s an undoubtedly attractive game that’s full of impressive sights, it’s harder to appreciate it all on the Nintendo Switch thanks to some sketchy visuals. I primarily played through the game on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode, and whilst it is certainly playable, it did mean having to deal with slightly blurry visuals, some frame rate drops during busier areas, and a small text and HUD size. The mini-map is hard to follow too, though in honesty I think that’s more to do with an in-game design issue as opposed to a Nintendo Switch one.
It’s not an absolute game-breaker and I managed to play through the game on the Nintendo Switch’s portable mode just fine – you just won’t have as good of an experience as you would if you played on a different platform. It’s certainly something that’s worth considering if you own other consoles or if playing in handheld mode isn’t too big of a deal for you.
Darksiders Genesis’ satisfyingly brutal combat and enjoyable co-operative action come together nicely to make for an exciting take on the Darksiders series. Sure, it has its flaws with the random nature of the Creature Core system and the finicky platforming, but neither of those issues stop it from being fun to play – especially with a friend.
It’s just a shame that the game’s performance on the Nintendo Switch is a little underwhelming, particularly when playing handheld. It’s not a broken mess by any means and it’s certainly playable, but Darksiders Genesis is nowhere near as impressive on the Nintendo Switch as it is on other platforms.
Developer: Airship Syndicate
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC