[Interview] Darksiders Genesis devs on origins, story, gameplay, Switch version, and more
Posted on December 7, 2019 by Oni Dino(@Oni_Dino) in Interviews, Switch
THQ Nordic surprised fans right before the start of E3 by revealing Darksiders Genesis. This new game, developed by Battle Chasers: Nightwar developer Airship Syndicate, is completely different from what we’ve seen from the series before. The team has made a top-down action adventure that introduces the horseman Strife for the first time.
Earlier this year, we spoke with Airship Syndicate president Ryan Stefanelli as well as CEO / Darksiders co-creator Joe Madureira about Darksiders Genesis. We were able to learn more about how the game came to be, what fans can expect from the story and gameplay, and how the Switch version is shaping up. You can find our full discussion below.
Genesis is unlike any other Darksiders game we’ve seen so far. Where did the inspiration for the project come from?
Stefanelli: It was in some ways by necessity, because when we were given the opportunity to potentially work on another Darksiders game, we had to say, “Okay, what can our team do?” And it’s a relatively small team by comparison – Darksiders 1 and 2 were both 100-person teams, and Gunfire managed to do a lot with 40 or 50 on Darksiders 3. We’re less than half of that again.
When we started thinking about it, we knew it still had to be an action game though. And rather than just trying to do a third-person game that would be scaled way back, what we decided to do was try making it something that was isometric, and we’d seen a successful transition – or at least there was precedent for it with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, going from Tomb Raider to isometric and it was one of my favorite XBLA games. So I thought, “Hey, you know what? We could probably do our own version of that.” The games really are not similar in feel at all, but just conceptually – a third-person game, you can translate that. Who says it can’t just be what amounts to a fixed camera? And so we pitched that to THQ, and they liked the idea, and we started work on a prototype, and it ended up being fun so we went from there.
When did development start? When did the initial idea first come about? Is this something Airship Syndicate approached THQ Nordic about, or was it the other way around?
Stefanelli: Development started pretty much right when we finished Battle Chasers: Nightwar, which was also published by THQ. We needed something to move the team something on to, and that ended up being it. And it all kind of happened organically, too. It was just me talking with Reinhard (Pollice), who’s the director of business development at THQ, and I remember… sort of the funny way it really happened is, I was talking with him on telegram, and I just said, “Hey, what if we did Darksiders, but isometric? Kind of like Guardian of Light.” He was like, “I love that game. Give me a three-page pitch.” We did, and later we signed it.
In terms of his actual character, how does Strife differ from the other horsemen?
Madureira: Gameplay-wise, he’s a gun-slinger, so in this particular game, it’s more on Strife. War is the swordsman, Strife brings the guns to a knife fight. He’s more like a twin-stick shooter and War plays just like he did in DS1 – lots of huge sweeping arcs. He’s good at handling lots of enemies whereas Strife does really awesome single-target damage, and you kind of want to keep him away from enemies.
Personality-wise, too, he’s also kind of a little more humorous. War takes his duty as a horseman extremely seriously. They haven’t actually been horsemen very long in this story. This is right after they kind of become horsemen and wipe out their own kind, the Nephilim, as referenced in the second Darksiders game. We kind of touched on that stuff more. But having two stoic, serious characters together would be no fun, so we gave Strife a little bit more of a sarcastic personality. He enjoys killing. He likes the dark side of being a horsemen, and he especially likes getting under War’s skin, and you get to see that relationship grow. They still don’t really trust each other. They question each other’s motives, so it’s a lot of fun. So Strife really kind of shakes up the team dynamic a little bit.
We definitely like the energy of that back-and-forth. I think in the end of the story, you’ll realize they really do care about each other – it’s just that, just like any siblings, you can’t really admit that kind of thing.
Darksiders Genesis is a clear departure from the main series in terms of its gameplay, but what about its story? Is the narrative connected to the storyline of the main Darksiders games, or is it largely self-contained?
Madureira: Basically, after the war in Eden, the horsemen kind of like disband. Death is kind of on his quest to carry the souls of the Nephilim to be destroyed. He takes them in DS2 – so there are cool references to moments that happen in the other Darksiders games. But then War and Strife are called back by the Charred Council, because after Eden is destroyed, humans are kind of given a new home. Lucifer’s already got a plan to corrupt the humans or destroy the humans in their new home, so he sends War and Strife to sort of figure out what’s going on. You run into Samael actually – he’s a big part of the story as a returning character, and Vulgrim is also back. He’s like under attack by one of Lucifer’s super powered demon lords and becomes an ally for the horsemen, and basically you’re sent to check out each of these masters that we call them – Lucifer’s trusted minions basically – and find out what’s going on, and kill them along the way, too.
This is before a lot of the politics of the Charred Council and heaven and hell come into play. They really are like the council’s enforces – go here, kill this guy. I think in our teaser trailer, Strife gives you a little taste of that. In the full trailer, he actually walks in and sentences this guy to death, and just takes him out right then. But the teaser doesn’t show the full scene.