I like to consider myself a fan of the Darksiders series, but I have been playing it exclusively on the Nintendo Switch so far. It means that whilst I’ve experienced both War and Death’s adventures, I’ve had to wait it out to see how the trilogy concluded with Fury’s battle against the Seven Deadly Sins. Well, Darksiders III is finally available on the Nintendo Switch, but it was already a game that was divisive amongst fans – both for its changes to the gameplay as well as the technical issues on other platforms.
How was it going to hold up on the Nintendo Switch then? Well, whilst Darksiders III certainly has its impressive moments, some technical hiccups and frequent loading sequences do tarnish the adventure.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Darksiders III’s adventure takes place alongside the events of Darksiders II, with Fury, arguably the most fierce member of the Four Horsemen (clue is in the name), tasked with taking down the monstrous Seven Deadly Sins. As expected, things take some interesting turns throughout that tie into the on-going war, with the deceptions that caused the apocalypse in the first-place driving Fury forward (and, of course, adding to her rage). There’s nothing too unpredictable here if you’ve played the previous entries in the series, but the narrative still offers enough to keep players invested in the world.
Gameplay-wise, Darksiders III changes things up a little when compared to the other titles in the series. In some ways it’s simpler, especially with the puzzling which is a lot less intricate and demands less thought from the player, but in other ways it’s more challenging – most specifically with the combat.
Whilst the first two games felt like traditional hack-and-slash affairs, Darksiders III’s combat demands a lot more precision and timing from the player. It’s easy to find yourself killed quite quickly if you don’t time your dodges carefully, whilst healing is a lot more drawn out and doesn’t occur instantaneously. You can’t interrupt your own attacks when you perform them either, meaning you might leave yourself vulnerable to incoming attacks from enemies if you aren’t careful. I actually died really early on in what should have been an easy battle because of this, with my experience with the first two games lulling me into a false sense of security.
“Whilst many have argued that its stripped-back approach isn’t as enjoyable as the previous entries in the series, I still enjoyed exploring the world and vanquishing its many nasties.”
This style of combat is fine for the most part, but why fix what isn’t broken? The series’ traditional fast-paced hack-and-slash action was great, so the change here feels unnecessary and more like a detriment to the game. Well, it’s something the developer took on board after the game’s initial launch in 2018, so a second style of combat was added to make it feel more like its predecessors. Faster attacks, easier healing, and, of course, the ability to cancel your own attacks to dodge were added, giving Darksiders III a more traditional feel. I tried both systems and found I preferred playing this way, so it’s worth bearing in mind when you start.
Other than that, you’ve got the typical hallmarks of the series: you’ll unlock new weapons to use, level up and upgrade your stats, and gain new abilities that won’t only be effective at killing enemies but will also help you reach previously inaccessible areas. Much like the previous game, Darksiders III is very open in design, with exploration playing a big role in the experience.
It’s a pretty fun game, really. Whilst many have argued that its stripped-back approach isn’t as enjoyable as the previous entries in the series, I still enjoyed exploring the world and vanquishing its many nasties. There’s something about post-apocalyptic video games that tick plenty of boxes for me, so the mixture of solid gameplay mechanics and an engaging narrative was more than enough to keep me invested in the experience.
Of course, I played Darksiders III on the Nintendo Switch – a console that has had its fair share of sketchy ports in the past. Unfortunately, there were problems aplenty here too, with some of the technical issues causing frustrations during my fifteen-hours or so with the game.
“There were frame rate stutters on a regular basis, which could make combat feel frustrating – especially when trying to nail a perfectly timed dodge or attack.”
In fairness, everything got off to a good start, with Darksiders III’s action staying at a fairly consistent frame rate that was steadily lingering around the 30fps mark. However, as I progressed further in the open world and came into busier battles, things took a real turn for the worst. There were frame rate stutters on a regular basis, which could make combat feel frustrating – especially when trying to nail a perfectly timed dodge or attack. It’s even worse when you’re trying to pull off a precise jump, with the frame rate issues not just limited to combat but exploration too. It’d be more forgivable if they were one-offs, but they occurred so frequently in some areas that it could feel a little unbearable, whilst it also felt like the frame rate crept down to single figures on a few occasions. Don’t get me wrong, it’s never completely unplayable, but you can expect to get very, very annoyed.
There are a lot of loading sequences that break up the pace of exploration too, with some occurring randomly as you simply move between areas. It just felt a little jarring, especially when they’d occur in the open areas where you didn’t seem to be moving between different locales. Oh, and try not to die if you can help it, otherwise you can expect to find yourself waiting for a short while as the action loads back in – it’s easier said than done though, especially with the aforementioned frame rate issues making Fury easy prey at times.
“For all its issues, it is worth noting that Darksiders III is certainly playable on the Nintendo Switch, with nothing game-breaking occurring that forced me to stop playing.”
At least everything looks decent in-game though, whilst the resolution isn’t so low that everything looks blurry either. I was actually pretty impressed with the draw distance, with some of Darksiders III’s more open landscapes looking pretty striking in-game. Of course, it’s not as sharp as it’d be on other platforms and some sacrifices have been clearly made with the texture quality, but it still managed to look pretty good. There were a few visual glitches though, such as a hue of colour covering one half of the screen when some lighting effects were shown or some textures not loading in at all at times. Nothing every looked outright bad though, with it proving to be a pretty game to look at on the Nintendo Switch.
For all its issues, it is worth noting that Darksiders III is certainly playable on the Nintendo Switch, with nothing game-breaking occurring that forced me to stop playing. Yes, the frame rate issues did cause frustrations, and yes, there were times when the game was constantly loading that I found myself thinking I could be doing something else, but I still enjoyed the game itself. It comes with all previously released DLC too, and whilst I haven’t touched it yet, I may dip back in to go through it eventually. Just know that you’ll be playing an inferior version of the game on the Nintendo Switch; not just from a visual standpoint but a technical one too.
Darksiders III Summary
Darksiders III is a pretty enjoyable game in itself, but the Nintendo Switch port has too many issues to make it feel like essential playing – especially since it’s available in a better form on other platforms. Between a clunky frame rate, frustrating load times, and some graphical hiccups, it’s clear that it’s inferior when compared to the series’ previous efforts on the console.
It’s certainly playable though, so if you really want to play through Fury’s adventure in the palms of your hands, you can do so here. Just expect an experience that might impress you at first, but will cause plenty of frustrations the further you venture through the game.
Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC