We're pretty big fans of the Darksiders franchise here at Nintendo Life. These games may pilfer their core mechanics from all over the shop, and make no attempt to hide the fact in the process, but they're pure comfort food; cosy, familiar, resolutely old-fashioned in how they go about their business, and for the most part a lot of easy-breezy fun to boot.
First released to fairly average reviews back in 2018, Darksiders III sees the series stripped back to its basics, removing a lot of the faff introduced in part two for a much more streamlined and basic affair. You'll do combat with all manner of demonic beasties, solve a bunch of pretty simple puzzles, take on some bosses and engage in light platforming action — there are absolutely no surprises in store here. It's the very epitome of a safe, straightforward adventure that serves up exactly what fans of the series will likely expect, a light-hearted action adventure with plenty of character in the form of its sassy cast of Horsemen and demons.
Unfortunately however, as far as this Switch port goes, any easy-breezy gaming comfort you were hoping to derive from this particular adventure is undercut by some pretty consistent and frustrating technical issues. Yes, the graphics have taken a big hit, as expected, in an effort to keep things slick but persistent frame rate issues remain. Painfully long loading times occur after every death, there are frequent full-on pauses during the action and everything from grappling around levels to battling beasties is rendered a chore as a result.
But let's rewind a little here and work our way to the bad stuff shall we? Darksiders III puts you in the steely shoes of Fury, one of the last Nephilim — and a bit of a grump — as she sets out to take down the Seven Deadly Sins in exchange for the promise of a position as leader of the Horsemen. Things get underway pretty quickly here with a boss battle in the first five minutes against Envy and, over the next thirteen hours or thereabouts, you're pretty quickly funnelled through the rest of the Sins as you puzzle and platform your way across cities and swamps, festering pools, bonelands, lowlands and more.
As you blast through skeletons, sycophants, sloth bugs and spidercrabs, you'll earn orbs that can be used to level up, purchase blacksmith materials or grab a few shards at Vulgrim's store. It's all very straightforward stuff, Fury only has three branches to pump points into — health, strength and arcane — and the game's various shards see you gain health and fortitude, max out your fury gauge or temporarily put you into frenzy mode for some short-lived damage boosts. Simple.
Fury starts out with a whip as her only weapon but, as she gathers hollows from defeated foes, she'll gain access to the flaming Chains of Scorn, an electric lance, a force move that allows her to blast obstacles out of her way and a nifty ice-stasis attack. It's pretty much everything you'd expect to find in a Darksiders game and the more powers you have at your disposal, the more fun the combat, puzzling and platforming becomes. Or at least it would do if those aforementioned technical woes weren't here to ruin the pain party.
For the first few hours the frame rate issues aren't too bad, there aren't a ton of enemies onscreen at any one time and the game just about gets away with it. However, once you hit the Bonelands — roughly four-ish hours in — things begin to fall apart. With more enemies present at any one time, the frame rate really begins to falter and it affects the flow of action quite badly. Fury's dodge move, a fundamental element of the combat which sees you counter with a furious riposte if timed correctly, becomes a nightmare to pull off, swarms of enemies encircle you as the game stutters and struggles to keep up and, in all honesty, the whole thing turns into a bit of a mess. We even had one boss fight, against Avarice, that totally bugged out on us, our huge foe completely paralysed in the middle of the arena as we pummelled him to death. Not ideal.
Platforming, which often involves quite precise jumps and some swinging around with your whip, also suffers and we constantly failed to make it across gaps and chasms due to the frame rate slowing down and making it feel as though we were trying to walk and jump around in sludge. Death is accompanied by loading times that can run close to a minute and sprinting around in later levels often sees the game fully stop, throw up a loading bar and sit there until it's managed to catch up to your antics. In short, this is not a good port, it doesn't feel good to play — it's worse in handheld than in docked — and, for the price, we just can't see how anyone who has access to any other means of playing this game would choose to go with this subpar Switch version.
Beyond the Switch-specific technical snafus, Darksiders III also has a fair amount of shortcomings of its own. As much as it's a generally pleasant game to just zone out to, this third entry waters the franchise's core elements just a little too much for our liking. Even with a full set of abilities unlocked and ready to rock, the combat here is repetitive and rather messy stuff. Locking on to enemies is a pain and the camera often works against you to obscure incoming attacks. Platforming can be frustrating at times, too — we absolutely loathe those buggy, unresponsive platform creatures — and overall the whole endeavour just feels like a step back from the tighter action, exploration and puzzling found in its predecessors. Even the story, which is usually a high point, feels tired this time around and Fury makes for a pretty one-note protagonist.
Overall then, Darksiders III on Switch is a poor version of a distinctly average entry in the series. If you absolutely must have it, and can deal with its technical shortcomings, you will at least be rewarded with all previously released DLC for your troubles. However, we'd advise, where possible, to skip this particular port and pick this one up on some other platform.
Darksiders III on Switch is a poor port of a distinctly average entry in the series. Constant technical issues make fighting and platforming more frustrating than fun, long loading times follow every death and the further along you get, the worse these issues seem to become. It's a shame as we're pretty big fans of the series in general, but if you have any other means of playing this one we'd advise you give this clunky version a miss.