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[Interview] Darksiders Genesis devs on origins, story, gameplay, Switch version, and more

Posted on December 7, 2019 by (@Oni_Dino) in Interviews, Switch

Darksiders Genesis is being developed by Airship Syndicate, a team of former Vigil staffers who worked on the series previously. What’s it been like to return to the franchise and have original artist and creator Joe Madureira be involved?

Madureira: It’s been awesome. Although honestly, the team at Vigil created Darksiders, but I will steal the credit. (laughs) It was really cool. Whenever you create anything that resonates – it was the same thing with Battle Chasers – you put it out there, and so many years went by, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get to work on it again, and when I did it was so cool. Seeing those characters again and being in that world and at that time I didn’t know that we were going to do Darksiders again either. We were watching the development of DS3 – our good friends at Gunfire were doing that one, so we were kind of cheering them on from the sidelines, not knowing that midway into development on that we would be starting this game. It was really cool I think. The whole team was super excited. This series, it’s not like a blockbuster, but it does have this following of loyal, hardcore fans. Within our own team there are fans of Darksiders, and you’ll see some of the most amazing artists on the planet on ArtStation or whatever doing Darksiders fan art. It really resonated, so for us, it was really cool.

Will the Switch version be the same as on other platforms?

Stefanelli: Content-wise, 100% the same. And certainly, it is a different platform technically to work on then some of the others, so we’ll up making some concessions, but the team is working really hard right now to make sure that it’s as good as it can be.

Are you targeting any particular frame rate / resolution on Switch?

Madureira: The highest possible.

Stefanelli: I mean really, that is kind of it – do what we gotta do to make it feel good, and we’ll see where it comes out in the wash. It’s what we had to do on Battle Chasers as well, and Battle Chasers was a unique challenge because the Switch had just come out, and Unity was brand new on Switch. I think we were one of the first two, three games that were of a decent size – maybe even period – that were trying to come to the Switch based in Unity. We’ve gotten a taste of what the transition is like, and we’re getting a lot of help on it too, so hopefully Switch players will be happy with it. It’s really cool being able to bring a new Darksiders game to the Switch. We’re excited about it.

Madureira: Plus it’s portable for God’s sake. That’s so cool.

Stefanelli: It’s still difficult to try and put a game that is visually… even though it is an isometric camera, the art team still puts a lot of love into the art, right? It’s still high-fidelity stuff. So there is a challenge making sure that it runs the way it needs to on the Switch, but we did start that process much earlier on this project than we did on Battle Chasers.

Do you see Genesis as a one-time thing, or is Darksiders a franchise Airship Syndicate would like to continue working on?

Stefanelli: I don’t know. I mean it’s certainly a possibility for us working on it. As for whether or not there will be future Darksiders games in this vein, I think that our audience is going to decide that for us by buying it. If it sells really, really well, you can bet that there will be.

Madureira: And THQ obviously.

Stefanelli: Yeah, of course. They will probably make the decision based on how it sells.

Now that Darksiders is exploring a much different genre, do you foresee the franchise continuing to experiment with different gameplay styles?

Stefanelli: Personally I would be surprised if it branched out much more, but first-person shooter? It’d be awesome.

Madureira: A Strife first-person shooter is a no-brainer.

Stefanelli: I think for Strife to get his own standalone game, at the very least, it’s going to have to be a first-person shooter of some sort.

Madureira: I will say the Darksiders franchise always makes bold moves. I mean after the first one, we completely changed the main character of the game.

Stefanelli: Added loot. Bigger dungeons.

Madureira: Added loot and crazy traversal. And now we’re doing this. I think it’s possible. Why not? If it makes sense for that game and that character and there’s a market for it, I think THQ’s probably crazy enough to try it. I will say they’ve been super supportive and will try it if it sounds cool. That is literally how this game came to be.

The last game you worked on was Battle Chasers: Nightwar. How was the reception on Switch? How did the game do from a sales perspective on Nintendo’s console?

Stefanelli: I mean again, going back to voting with dollars, it was our number two platform behind PC. It raced past PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Madureira: We actually have so many people that bought it again on Switch. They were like, “Hey, I already finished on PS4.” Or like, “I was halfway through it on PC, but I started over because I bought it on Switch.” It’s almost unanimous that if people own a Switch, they got the game again.

Stefanelli: I think it was one of our highest Metacritic… well, I don’t know about highest, but the reviews on it were really, really good. And the one benefit that the Switch version had due to the delays was that along the way, we were fixing a lot of things – primarily in some of the design things like the balance, and some bugs too, but a lot of it was the feedback that we got from players on design. We were patching the game and making things quality of life, and reducing the grind which was probably the number one gameplay complaint. By the time it hit the Switch, it was like a special edition practically. I think that benefited it.

Is Battle Chasers an IP Airship Syndicate would like to work on further in the future?

Madureira: Yes.

Do you have any final words you’d like to share about Darksiders Genesis?

Stefanelli: I will say that I know the Switch is a unique platform to develop for, so just for me personally because I love the Switch and I think in the last year most of the games that I’ve beaten were on the Switch, I’m really glad that we get to put games on the platform. I enjoy it, and I get total credit with my kids for putting games on the Switch.

Madureira: Ditto. What he said.

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