Right before E3, THQ Nordic announced that Airship Syndicate (a studio co-founded by original Darksiders artist Joe Madureira) is developing a Darksiders prequel spin-off, subtitled Genesis. We offered some hands-on impressions of Strife, who is playable for the first time, but now we can talk about two other interesting aspect of Genesis teased in the announcement trailer: The co-op, and War as a playable character.
Genesis can be played online, with one player controlling War and the other Strife. That’s how we played it when we visited Airship Syndicate’s studio in Texas, but split-screen will also be on option, with each character getting their own half of the screen.
War plays surprisingly similar to how he does in the original Darksiders, which was an intentional goal from the beginning of development. His design hasn’t changed too much, outside of some adjustments made to account for the new camera perspective, and he is voiced by Liam O'Brien, who has performed War for each of his appearances, even his quick cameo in Darksiders 3.
Along with being able to swing his sword, Chaoseater, for typical combos, War also has access to his Wrath moves, like the one that makes an explosion of swords erupt from the ground. He can also take on his Chaos Form after building up a meter, and it is executed with the same combination of shoulder buttons from his original appearance. You may be viewing him from a new overhead perspective in Genesis, but by most accounts, War feels like he did in the first Darksiders. “We definitely wanted War as an anchor to feel like, ‘Hey, if you’ve played Darksiders 1, he should feel like that when you’re fighting,’” says design director Steve Maduiera (Joe Maduiera’s brother).
Strife and War have specific, defined roles when working together. Strife is good at staying back and picking off enemies with his guns, but War is the brawler who is good at clearing swarms, as as he has wide attacks that can manage groups. Co-op won’t be drop-in/drop-out, but you will be able to change the team dynamic and even switch to playing alone at assorted checkpoints throughout each level.
When playing co-op, you will encounter puzzles that require coordination. Playing an early level, I had to work with Steve Maduiera (he controlled Strife and I played as War) to pull a pair of levers simultaneously in order to open a door. Airship says later puzzles will be more complicated and require items that you acquire over the course of the game.
If you choose to play alone, you can switch between War and Strife with a button press and whoever is not in play will slowly recover some of their health. Puzzles are also changed when playing alone. Sometimes it’s as simple as only needing to pull a single lever instead of two, but sometimes the puzzle has a more dramatic change. In the scenario where we had to pull levers together, for example, I was able to throw a bomb at the lever normally pulled by another player, and had to time my lever pull with an explosion.
Our time with Genesis made it clear this is not Darksiders 4, but I enjoyed what I played and like seeing the direction this new offshoot is going. The action feels like Darksiders and even though the puzzles I solved were simple, I am happy to see them present here. There were only a handful of puzzles in Darksiders 3, and it was a gameplay element I missed.
For more on Darksiders Genesis, head here to read our hands-on impressions of Strife. You can also read a whole lot more in the most recent issue if the magazine, which you can read online here if you’re a subscriber and see some photos from the studio by heading here.