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Darksiders Genesis hands-on preview: The platforming is legit

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    Darksiders Genesis preview, THQ Nordic and Airship Syndicate present at E3

    Okay, maybe I’m not the most practical choice of person to preview Darksiders Genesis from Airship Syndicate and THQ Nordic. Not only have I not played Darksiders before, but I’ve only played Diablo a couple times in my life. So this preview won’t be filled with comparisons to other titles. However, what I can do handily is tell you if Darksiders Genesis is fun and interesting. And I’m pleased to say—yes, I was genuinely impressed with this one at E3.

    [This E3 preview was played with an Xbox controller, presumably running on Xbox hardware.]

    An agile dungeoncrawler

    The reveal trailer for this game had an emphasis on platforming and swinging around, and what I played on my hands-on preview had that in spades. I was not just meandering from place to place at a brisk walk. I was regularly jumping, double jumping, and gliding to reach faraway places. I was climbing pillars and clinging to edges. I was swinging from conveniently-placed hanging objects.

    In fact, just progressing through the level required a lot of conscious thought. There were several times I thought I was stuck, until I finally figured out there was some sort of acrobatics I needed to perform. Or maybe I needed to throw War’s boomerang-like weapon (Vorpal Blade, I think it was called?) to lock on to just the right objects in order to activate a switch or blow up a wall. What I’m trying to reiterate here is—Darksiders Genesis is anything but a slog through generic dungeons.

    Dungeons & beatdowns

    Speaking of which, the dungeon I went through began in ice but swiftly transitioned to a burning cavern full of lava. It was mostly just set dressing, but it was overall attractive anyway. And I was consistently impressed at how many random optional areas were hidden in the landscape. If you jump around to just the right spot, you can find out-of-the-way treasure and the like. Exploration is genuinely enjoyable and rewarding.

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    The actual combat seems like it will be enjoyable too, though the demo didn’t require any advanced tactics of me to succeed (thankfully). I was able to switch between the horsemen Strife and War on the fly to use. Characters have light and heavy melee attacks and a ranged attack, as well as special abilities. You can also dash. I preferred to just brutalize things with War’s big sword, and his boomerang-ish blade was required to complete several puzzles. There were a few additional special abilities that I didn’t pick up the nuance of during my short time playing.

    The boss at the end was a bruiser with a big gun. I had to dash in and hit him hard when I could; then I hid behind pillars to avoid getting blown away by bullets. It was frenetic and a little heart-pounding, but maybe my heart was pounding just because no one else around me at the moment had bothered to play to the end. In any case, my victory was sweet, and the small bits of dialogue at the end were snappy and entertaining. The character portraits drawn by master artist Joe Mad were of course gorgeous too.

    So what are my final impressions of this E3 demo? Very positive. If you’re down for dungeoncrawlers, Darksiders Genesis should be right up your alley. Sure, there were a couple times I thought I was stuck in a wall but eventually got free; a guy playing next to me was not as lucky. But we can safely assume such problems will be fixed by the time it releases.

    There is good reason to be excited about Darksiders Genesis.

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