Before we begin, I want to let you know that I truly, genuinely wanted to like Darksiders 3. I loved Darksiders, I liked what I played of Darksiders 2 (should be finishing that one up next month), and I had very high hopes for the third installment of this series. Sadly – almost heartbreakingly – I was disappointed. If you, oh Darksiders fans, still managed to enjoy this title, I applaud you; try as I might, I simply was not able to eke out more than an ounce or two of fun.
The game-play for Darksiders 3 feels slow and sloppy. The targeting mechanism is atrocious; you have to keep the left trigger pressed the entire time you want to focus on a single enemy. This throws off the rest of my playstyle way more than I anticipated, and even when I was able to get used to – and past – this annoyance, the targeting itself is flawed. I would finish off an enemy who was directly in front of me, then, instead of aiming at the one next to him, the marker would swing to a beast too far away to be an immediate threat, leaving me vulnerable to attack and having to abandon targeting altogether. While this might seem like a minor annoyance, when you’re surrounded by five creatures who are all trying to claim your life, and you’re watching that health bar dwindle, it can mean the difference between victory and having to fight your way through the area all over again. There’s nothing I hate more than repetition, so I try to be victorious as often as possible, and I’d like the game’s mechanics not to fight against me in this goal. Aside from the technical flaws (there are also glitches galore, but we’ve covered that, and they remained prevalent throughout my playthrough), the puzzles are often monotonous. There aren’t many head-scratchers in Darksiders 3; they decided to rely more on repetition and time trials. While I do appreciate my progress not being overly hindered by excruciatingly long puzzles, I’d at least like the ones that exist not to break up the flow of the game and hold some level of enjoyment. I will say, the battle mechanics, aside from that pesky targeting flaw, are quite fun. I love dispatching my enemies with Scorn in the extremely satisfying hack-and-slash way this game allows. I will note, this is one of the very small handful of things that allowed me SOME measure of joy while playing this title.
As far as difficulty is concerned, Darksiders 3 has a few options to choose from, though I will tell you, because of some of the faulty mechanics and glitching, even Story can pose a challenge. As I’ve said previously, I play any game I’m going to review on the Easy setting to speed along my progress and provide my feedback in a more timely manner; this method didn’t seem to help me much this time around. D3 is only around fifteen to twenty hours long, and yet it took me what felt like (and turned out to be) ages to get through it. Now, I may not be the most skilled gamer out there, but I’m not among the worst, so this was infuriating at times. A glitch in the middle of a battle would result in having to redo an entire area multiple times. This happened, as you’ll recall, in the very beginning of the game against Envy, and continued to be an issue for me throughout the various areas and against a few more of the Seven. I found myself baffled at what was apparently a poorly timed jump or move, when, at least on my screen, I should have been spot on. Couple this with the extraordinarily short “tell” times of attacking enemies, leading to MANY ill-timed evasive maneuvers, and you end up with a cluster-F of frustration, instead of an enjoyable challenge.
The plot behind Darksiders 3 is actually rather good; I enjoyed the story and the twists it took; there is even an element of decision making involved. It’s hard to talk on this topic too much without giving anything away, but in short, you (Fury) are tasked with retrieving the Seven Deadly Sins and restoring balance to the world. Along the way, Fury is faced with the idea that she may not be as independent as she thinks, but simply someone else’s pawn. I don’t have anything negative to say about the storyline, truthfully. It goes along with the first two games; there are interesting developments that will have you raising an eyebrow, and maybe smirking a little, as Fury is knocked down a peg or two. (I found it extremely difficult to like our anti-hero; she just isn’t for me.) Darksiders has always been pretty good at weaving an exciting tale, and they haven’t lost their touch. I would argue that having a main character who’s got some sort of likeability would have been a plus, but hey, it worked out.
The graphics in Darksiders 3 are a disappointment; I felt very much like I was playing a remastered version of a 2011 game. The various areas all sort of blend together, as there is no much tonal difference between one place and the next. Everything seems so washed out and grey, with a small splash of color here and there. I will say, the character concepts are amazing, but the execution just isn’t there. With the technology we have available, if I’m going to pay top price for a game, I expect top-notch graphics. We aren’t even talking Red Dead Redemption 2 status, but come on; a little effort would have been nice. I feel, and I think most would agree, this is not an area you can afford to be lacking in this day and age. We’ve had exceptional developments in the world of graphics, so much so that it is expected a title will meet, or at least come close to these expectations. I would argue that the sound department got a little closer to hitting that nail. The various sound effects, from simply traveling through your environment to the unearthly screams of the creatures around you, are all very crisp and satisfying. As it should, the score really amps up the anxiety of a serious battle and helps set the scene when the graphics don’t quite do the job. The voice acting is also spot-on; I never left a cutscene cringing or thinking the character felt disingenuous. All-around satisfied with this department.
Darksiders 3 is another much-anticipated disappointment for me in 2018. I would put it up there with Agony on the scale of how much I was looking forward to playing it, and how angry I feel now that I have. There’s nothing worse than waiting six years to be let down. Don’t get me wrong, Agony is still probably the worst title I’ve played this year, but Darksiders 3 isn’t nearly as far behind as it should be. I’ll never flat out tell you not to buy a game because everyone has different standards and there were plenty of people who did like this title, but don’t pay sixty dollars for it. Please.