After a six-year hiatus, the gamemakers behind the Darksiders franchise have released a long awaited third installment. The first game featured War, one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Game two showcased his horseman brother Death. And now, in Darksiders III, gamers slip into the shapely armor, skin-tight leather and stiletto heels of a third apocalyptic horseperson: Fury*.
*Now if you’re thinking that, with the mention of the Four Horsemen, this gaming tale might have its roots in something biblical, you’re correct. The whole affair is centered around a grandiose war between Heaven and Hell that involves Nephilim and the Catholic concept of the Seven Deadly Sins.
But that set of roots and concepts gets very twisted here, to be sure. In fact, this story of fantastic warfare, angels and demons (and more demons) has about as much in common with the Bible as, oh, the latest alien war flick or superhero movie. Which is, not much.
Darksiders III begins with the clench-jawed and perpetually angry Fury being called before a group of stone-idol, “godly” representatives called the Charred Council. Her brother War, it seems, has set a great end-of-the-world apocalypse in motion. And now the Seven Deadly Sins—Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath and Sloth—have been given fleshly form and set loose amidst the already warring chaos of men, angels and demons.
Mankind is not having a good day.
Fury’s goal? Simply to go out, best the Sins, and drag them back before the Council in an effort to restore some kind of balance to the universe.
Of course, right out of the gate that seems like a tall ask. The world of man is already a savaged, dystopian wasteland of crumbling skyscrapers and smoldering dead and dying. So, balance ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. But Fury sets off to kill and cleave whatever she can and finish the job at hand.
That pretty much sums up the gameplay, too. Darksiders III plays out like a bombastically slashing God of War game mixed with the esthetic grittiness of a Dark Souls title.
There are some environmental puzzles to solve as Fury travels the game’s dank, corrupted, barrier-laden map. But the majority of play is all about slashing, tumbling and viciously ripping apart scores and scores of demonic beasties and monstrous big bosses with a flashing chain whip and other magic-infused weapons.
The action is big, flashy and splashy as creatures are hacked, slashed and decapitated and impaled. In some cases they just burst open like an overstuffed garbage bag full of bloody goop. It’s not necessarily realistic carnage, but it’s definitely over-the-top and regularly gushing.
As Fury decimates her foes, she gathers their souls and then trades those souls with a demonic merchant named Vulgrim. He gives Fury new wares and attribute level-up points in exchange for those quickly gobbled-up spiritual bits. Vulgrim’s locations are also respawning points after Fury is inevitably killed while in battle. (Like in a Dark Souls game, any souls you’re carrying when you die are left behind in a bundle you can retrieve later.)
Other content includes a number of voluptuously shaped women shown in form-fitting armor and outfits. And dialogue is spattered with crudities, such as uses of “h—,” “d–n,” “a–,” “b–tard” and exclamations of “sons of whores!” and the like.
This game starts out asking why “The Creator” constructed a universe teeming with imperfection, misery and sin. It wonders if sin was part of the grand design. Interesting questions. But gamers asking them won’t find any worthy answers here. In fact, they won’t find much of anything other than a flamboyant flail and flog fest in mythical clothing.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.