by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Slick as can be
Game designer Rich (Richard) Vorodi had presented his game before, and he knew we would like what we were about to see. How I know? Most game developers get a little nervous showing off their game to the press. It’s often one of those rare moments that they will receive critique from complete outsiders during development. But Rich knew he had nothing to worry about. Darksiders III looked polished and slick as could be.
Once again, players take the role of a Nephilim Horseman, or Horsewoman to be precise. Fury is perhaps the most independent of the four Horsemen and while she’s ready to bidding of the Charred Council, she likes carrying out her missions along the margins. Her task is to hunt down the Seven Deadly Sins and, as Rich put it, “box the escapees back up”.
For the Gamescom demonstration, Gunfire Games walked us through the capturing of Envy, a crow-like shaman with admirable magical powers and an outright evil plan to make mankind “her playthings”. Through the interaction with The Watcher - the council’s ghostlike and ever present watchdog - it was clear that Fury had little love for the council, humanity, or The Watcher for that matter. Still, she had a job to do and taking down Envy would be a good place to start.
We found Envy hiding in what looked like an old, overgrown and mostly collapsed hotel lobby. The fight highlighted some of the verticality aspects of the combat sessions as we saw Fury jump to platforms along the outside of the space, or rope-jump to them when they were too far away. Speed was of the essence as Envy looked to be conjuring up some sort of disaster while hovering in mid-air, unreachable from the floor of this makeshift arena. Stopping her before she could cast seemed to be paramount. Combat was both fast and, as you would expect from Fury, furious. Only the climbing sessions were a bit calmer, only to turn into blissful chaos as Fury brought Envy back down to the floor.
Darksiders III does away with any and all maps. There’s no minimap in the corner of your screen, and pressing M will not reveal a map of the area either. “We don’t think maps are fun,” Rich argued. “Instead, we’re giving players a sizeable, visual point of interest on each map that will help them find their way around.” The area where we found Envy had a giant, hard to miss tree smack in the middle of it. Another map, we were told, had an equally giant church to use for navigation. Compared to Darksiders II, the maps are much smaller than before if you’d look at them top down, but they will be both deeper and higher so that the actual playable area works out to be about the same.
Aesthetically, Gunfire Games is aiming for a world that blends modern day Earth with the fantasy setting of the Darksiders universe. Combined with the vertically designed maps, you get some pretty impressive scenery this way. Looking down a rocky, overgrown chasm to see the remnants of a city street down below is quite the sight. There were areas where I truly felt the Earth had swallowed the city whole, and others where I felt completely immersed in Darksider lore.
Six more to go!
Envy proved to be beatable, but the other six deadly sins won’t go down without a fight. Darksiders III impressed with incredibly smooth gameplay and ditto graphics. It also sports top notch voice acting, with Fury and The Watcher’s dialogue an absolute highlight. Rich did not want to spoil too much of the story, but he did hint that our independent Fury may turn out to be something of a defiant Fury instead. “The Fury you start out with will evolve, and not be the Fury you end up with,” he said about her personality and allegiances. Intriguing? Definitely.