There’s a lot that Darksiders III gets wrong, but there’s one thing that Gunfire Games deserves a lot of credit for, and that’s what it left out.
My recent return to Metal Gear Solid 2 reminded me how much a single-player game can accomplish when it isn’t burdening its players with pointless side activities. Sometimes, (I might even argue oftentimes,) a straightforward approach is the best approach.
Say what you will about Darksiders III, but one thing that you can’t say is that it artificially inflates its playtime and dilutes its core gameplay with a bunch of secondary garbage.
Structurally, Darksiders III is actually pretty satisfying, mostly because it’s basically just Dark Souls. The level design relies a lot on the shortcut system that Dark Souls popularized: go forward, kill a bunch of bad guys, and almost run out of health items before finding the shortcut that will return you to your safe zone where you can re-up on your necessary potions.
Darksiders II, on the other hand, fell into the open-world trap. Sure, it might be remembered fondly by many for its explorable worlds, but it also strayed pretty darn far from what the first Darksiders set up the series to be, going from a straightforward 3D action game with fun puzzles to a much more open-ended, time-consuming action RPG.
Darksiders III cuts the fat of the previous games—then streamlines it even more. There’s nothing you need to collect besides some of the hidden items that aren’t super hard to find, and there are no other quests besides finding the Seven Deadly Sins and capturing them. It creates a much more focused, immediate adventure that lets the story unfold at a consistent pace without making me feel like I was missing out by plowing through the main narrative, as most open-world games do.
Obviously, Darksiders III is far from perfect, and some might complain that it feels slight for its $60 price tag. I’d say that’s a fair argument. But I’d also say that tossing a bunch of pointless side quests and extracurriculars would just make it feel bloated, not full.