Darksiders 3: Rise from the Ashes

Let’s get the ball rolling.

Finally getting through some of these write-ups I’ve been talking about for months and Darksiders 3 is first up on the list. Well, more than DS3, I also talk about 1 and 2 a bit as well since my enjoyment of it is derived off the series as a whole.

Darksiders is a quaint series that hit a rough patch a couple years back, more or less getting canceled after THQ bit the bullet and ending the four-part series that only reached Darksiders 2 in . It’s a series that I wasn’t able to enjoy during launch and only had the chance to get into two-three years ago and just recently, within the last half-year, was my time with Darksiders 3. From what I said a sentence ago, it’s a miracle that Darksiders 3 even came out after the Vigil and THQ fell apart but through some grace of god, the series continued on after the former development team reconvened as Gunfire Games and Airship Syndicate, with the former being responsible for Darksiders 3.

Darksiders was always a series whose gameplay was inspired by many other games. Darksiders 1 in particular has been described by many as a amalgamation of Legend of Zelda and God of War and I can definitely vouch for that experience as it is a very traditional hack-n-slash game that doesn’t reach the combo madness heights of Devil May Cry or the blistering difficulty of Ninja Gaiden. It kept things rather comfortable but still visceral and had a lot of puzzle elements with its dungeons and of course, had you gain some new toys to keep things fresh. There were some minor customization with skill purchasing and weapon levels as well. Darksiders 2 added some more elements to the mix, namely the Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed style of scaling environments, where the prologue of Death climbing up the Crowfather’s Tower showcases this change immediately. The next biggest changes are more RPG elements present in the game with two skill trees, randomized loot, and weapon rarities making it akin to some Diablo II type rpg only in 3rd person action.

Darksiders 3 continues this trend but with another game to be inspired from, the Souls series. Like Death, Fury has an evade button and she is rewarded with a free and powerful attack after a perfect dodge and most importantly, dying leaves a marker where you can return to it, and regain your “souls”. Unlike Dark Souls or Nioh though, dying at your bloodstain before you can reach it doesn’t make it go away, in fact, it makes your bloodstain swell up with even more souls so it’s not as unforgiving. Souls are your singular currency to upgrade your weapons and level up. Once you level up, you can distribute skill points into three stats: Health, Attack, and Magic attack, no more skill trees. Whereas Death gets access to a bevy of weapons depending on RNG, Fury’s alt weapons aside from her whipblade are by her Hollows which are granted to her after certain main story missions like War gets. Hollows not only are the new dungeon gimmicks, passives, but also change Fury’s form and weapons ranging from bolas, spears, hammers, and swords and they are the source of powerful perfect evade counter attacks that deal the most amount of damage to enemies. Like War, Fury has the option to choose enchantments to buff her weapons for additional effects like more invincible frames on dodges, more attack, more meter gain, etc.

There’s a level of consistency in the Darksiders universe that I respect immensely as heavily inspired by Abrahamic descriptions of angels, demons, gods, etc and how multiple other concepts are utilized within the series. Darksiders 1 and 2 did their own things with four archdemons, Death’s rather unique line-up across four worlds, and Darksides 3 is a bit more formulaic as Fury is tasked to hunt down the Seven Sins. The cool other demon that helps you this time is the Lord of Hollows who ends up giving Fury a tool to uncover the conspiracy within the Charred Council, a plot point established way back in the first game, while the initial blame is placed on the Angels. Vulgrim is of course around and one of the DLC reveals that he’s an actual dick than just a conniving merchant.

The story of Darksiders is a funnily convoluted one, all because Darksiders 1 is the latest game in the plotline, but not for the reasons you think. Darksiders 1 begins with the sudden start of the apocalypse and a mysterious force between the armies of hell and heaven, has the Horsemen to War sent to Earth alone. War is knocked out by Straga, sent back to the Charred Council and as the Earth is being ravaged by the end war, War is locked up. It’s not until later that War is set free and sent to investigate what really happened on the ruined Earth and it’s between War’s imprisonment and mission, that’s the real start of Darksiders 1, that Darksiders 2 and 3 take place. Darksiders 2 takes place during the imprisonment of War where Death sets off to distant worlds alone, without his full powers bestowed by the council, to prove War’s innocence. There’s even a level where Death travels to the Earth during the end-war to recover an angelic artifact. Meanwhile, Fury is sent after the escaped Seven Sins on the ruined Earth after the war during War’s imprisonment as well, hell we even see him chained during the prologue. Darksiders 2’s ending has Death sacrificing himself to bring back most of humankind at the Well of Souls after defeating Absalom, but at an unspecified time later, Darksiders 1’s ending brings back Death after the seven seals are actually broken. Darksiders 3 happens a lot closer to Darksiders 1 where the ending has Fury lead the remaining few humans left on Earth to a safer Haven as the Makers fend off the Destroyer’s Hordes. Fury requests for Ulthane to help War if they should meet to which he accepts and does. Darksiders 1 picks afterwards in War’s mission and the finale has War defeat the Destroyer, become free of the Council’s power, and breaking the 7th seal to wage war upon the heavens, hell, and the council with his fellow horsemen.

Fury as a character is markedly different from her first appearance in the Darksiders prequel comics and this was a large point of contention that was part of the reason why the game’s marketing wasn’t as successful as it could have been. Many complained her appearance didn’t match up to her original rendition and was made “safer” for SJWs. What didn’t help her case was that her attitude was flippant and angsty, to the point where people thought it was a showcasing of “strong female lead”. I can safely say that while I didn’t care for either side about her previous incarnation’s attitude and appearance, Fury gets the most development among the horsemen. While it’s a sour point that her horse dies really early, Fury gets shit on constantly by the Council and by basically every other character while War doesn’t really interact with many characters aside from Samael while Death practically gets to kill anyone that looks at him wrong aside from the King of Bones. Fury’s development from hating and being angry at everything changes by the time the final boss reveals themselves and Fury has a change of heart to become the guardian of the remnant humans and leads them away from the Maker’s keep as it comes under siege. There’s one particular scene where Fury is shown an illusion of her brothers bowing to her as she becomes the next leader of the horsemen. Fury seems to buy the whole thing until they kneel and seeing this absolutely enrages Fury who breaks the illusion and her dialogue seems to suggest that being the one to lead is something she still desires but having her brothers kneeling to her was something that crossed the line. The Charred Council, despite being mediators have been pointed at as the conspirators behind the mess of things that War figures out by the end, and something that Fury knows about.

Now these are all favorable points but the game itself is a bit, under par. The gameplay itself doesn’t have much issue but Fury’s limited moveset leaves a lot to be desired as she is a lot less fun to play than her brothers. When the game was released, many criticized that the gameplay was stilted due to healing item use-animation and being unable to cancel out of attacks with dodges and eventually a “classic” game mode was added that fixed those two issues to make it play more like the other games. From wonky cameras, repetitive combat, relative lack of customization, the game is carried entirely from the setting and characters which is still slightly weaker than before but in the end, I didn’t hate the experience. I didn’t like it enough to play through the whole thing a second time but saw it as a proper entry into the series for the plot’s contents and development. It isn’t the best endorsement, especially since I got it for free. By the time I finished DS3 though, Gunfire announced that DS3 had reached their sales goal and had what they needed to proceed with the series. I will also note my appreciation for using the sin of Lust as something unique to the usual sensational and overly effeminate portrayals its personified as in damn near every other instance.

It’s up in the air if I end up getting Genesis or not but since it’s another prequel, I probably won’t unless it goes on sale. I’ve been hearing talk about when it came out about it having a lot less customization than other games of its genre but I’ve heard that it’s more or less Darksiders 1 in a different perspective as you still have skills but very limited customization. I’m mostly holding out for a proper Darksiders 4 but the next game we’ll talk about is also related the people responsible for Darksiders. We’ll get into it more next time.

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