Darksiders Genesis is a great new direction for a series known for its many different directions. While its isometric view may conjure thoughts of loot-centric action-RPGs along the lines of Diablo or Path of Exile, rest assured this is a Darksiders game, through and through. It’s an action-adventure complete with hard-hitting combat, dungeon diving, exploration, and more than a few “Press B to Brutally Murder” executions. What it lacks in Blizzard-level polish it makes up for with a respectable amount of content. Most importantly, though, is how Genesis manages to be just as fun at the start of its solo and co-op campaign as it is at the end thanks to a wide variety of enemies, well-thought-out character progression, and smart level design that encourages and rewards thorough exploration of its expansive environments.
As the name implies, Genesis takes place at the beginning of Darksiders lore, centuries upon centuries before the apocalyptic events of the first game. The overarching plot is pretty standard fare and functions mostly just to give the playable pair of characters, War and Strife, reasons to visit a location, kill a big bad demon, collect a magic trinket, turn off a poison faucet, and so on for the duration of its 15-hour campaign and compelling New Game+ (called Apocalyptic difficulty). The real star of Genesis’s story is the dynamic between its two main characters. The witty and snarky Strife is the perfect foil to the straight-laced and duty-bound War, and their pairing immediately brings to mind the dynamic and chemistry of Peter Quill and Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s some genuinely funny interactions between the two, but also some heartfelt moments as they both cope with the guilt stemming from their betrayal of the Nephilim during the War for Eden, along with some deeper-rooted (figurative) demons. These emotional highs are particularly resonant thanks to stellar voice acting from Liam O’Brien and Chris Jai Alex as War and Strife, respectively.