Dark­siders III

There’s no truce with this Fury

EDGE - - GAMES -

PC, PS4, Xbox One

Devel­oper Gun­fire Games

Pub­lisher THQ Nordic

For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One

Ori­gin US

Re­lease 2018

Well, it’s been a while. Not, ad­mit­tedly, as long as the century that War’s soul has spent scream­ing in the abyss: the pun­ish­ment handed down to Dark­siders’ orig­i­nal pro­tag­o­nist for – as you do – pre­ma­turely start­ing the Apoc­a­lypse. But five years is a long time for a se­ries to be sim­i­larly stuck in limbo. Dark­siders was one of the many vic­tims of the fall of THQ, but the brand’s ac­qui­si­tion by Nordic Games (since re­named THQ Nordic) raised hopes of a re­vival. No one quite knew what to make of a hastily as­sem­bled re­mas­ter of the sec­ond game two years ago: was this a fi­nal death rat­tle, or a pre­lude to a proper fol­low-up? While we sense the an­nounce­ment of a third game came a lit­tle sooner than devel­oper Gun­fire Games might have pre­ferred, a warm re­cep­tion bore out the pub­lisher’s de­ci­sion to an­nounce it early.

As one of the founders of orig­i­nal devel­oper Vigil Games, Gun­fire pres­i­dent David Adams has been with the se­ries from the very begin­ning. Even he was sur­prised by the mag­ni­tude of the re­sponse. “It’s re­ally cool to see that we made a fran­chise that ap­par­ently a lot of peo­ple like and were ex­cited to see come back,” he says. De­sign di­rec­tor John Pearl adds: “I re­mem­ber when we re­leased Dark­siders that peo­ple who played it liked it, but it didn’t re­ally get that groundswell of sup­port right away. It got pretty good re­views and sold pretty well, but we didn’t re­ally hear it – I guess so­cial me­dia wasn’t as preva­lent. How­ever, to see that peo­ple have such rev­er­ence for [both games] is in­spir­ing.”

Dark­siders III takes place at roughly the same time as its im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor, dur­ing War’s in­car­cer­a­tion. Where Death was

keen to prove the in­no­cence of his fel­low Horse­man, Fury is more con­cerned with do­ing her job – namely de­feat­ing the phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of the Seven Deadly Sins, which made their es­cape dur­ing the Apoc­a­lypse. “She’s like the good cop, ba­si­cally,” Adams ex­plains. “She wants to be per­ceived as the best and most loyal Horse­man around.” It might have taken all four to re­trieve the Sins last time, but Fury be­lieves she’s more than ca­pa­ble of han­dling the task alone. “She’s like, ‘Yeah, I got this,’” Adams con­tin­ues. “And that’s an il­lus­tra­tion of her per­son­al­ity.” As a whip-

wield­ing mage, the nim­ble Fury will han­dle rather dif­fer­ently from Death and War. And while her game of­fers a sim­i­lar blend of en­vi­ron­men­tal puz­zles, com­bat and ex­plo­ration to its pre­de­ces­sors, the struc­ture of the world has changed sig­nif­i­cantly – par­tic­u­larly from the hub-and-spoke de­sign of the first game. “The world’s a lot more in­ter­con­nected,” Pearl says. “It’s al­most like a big dun­geon. In pre­vi­ous games, you’d go through a dun­geon, get an item or an abil­ity and that would open up new paths. This time, we’re treat­ing the whole world [like that]. It’s a lot more ver­ti­cal this time. You might come into an area and then wind your way around and find your­self back in that same area but from a dif­fer­ent van­tage point, and with some new op­tions open to you.”

If that sounds like Gun­fire has been tak­ing a few tips from Hide­taka Miyazaki, it’s a com­par­i­son the stu­dio is happy to ac­knowl­edge. “I would say it’s def­i­nitely like Dark Souls in [that re­gard],” Adams says. “Dark Souls was how I would imag­ine a 3D

Metroid­va­nia – with­out the gear items and the puz­zle-solv­ing, but with [a sim­i­lar] in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness. So, yeah, all those kind of games have been an in­spi­ra­tion on the lay­out and the world de­sign.” Gun­fire is also aim­ing to ground its puz­zles more be­liev­ably within the game’s fic­tion. Gone, too, are com­bat ar­eas where locked doors bar your es­cape un­til you’ve de­feated a given num­ber of en­e­mies: “A

Dark­siders re­al­ity doesn’t have to be down-toearth or mun­dane, but we’re al­ways look­ing to find a rea­son for th­ese things to ex­ist, to make them feel like they fit in the world.”

Pearl and Adams are keen to stress there’s much more to come from Fury, with a pre­al­pha build barely scratch­ing the sur­face of

Dark­siders III’s com­bat me­chan­ics. Early feed­back has, Adams says, sug­gested that the stu­dio’s plans are fall­ing neatly in line with fans’ wishes, with any causes for con­cern merely a side-ef­fect of show­ing the game off at this nascent stage of de­vel­op­ment. “It’s funny when you re­lease this stuff, es­pe­cially pretty early on, you tend to get a re­flec­tion of what you’re think­ing your­self,” he says. “Like when some­one says, ‘I wish she had more weapons’ – of course she’s go­ing to have more weapons, of course she’ll have more mag­i­cal abil­i­ties. We hear a lot of con­fir­ma­tion of stuff, and we’re like, ‘Cool, we were plan­ning to do that any­way.”

“The world’s a lot more in­ter­con­nected. It’s al­most like a big dun­geon”

Pearl says fans shouldn’t be con­cerned if com­bat with Fury’s whip ap­pears sim­plis­tic: “War started with a sword and then he got a scythe, and then his Chaos form and all that. Fury has her own gear and up­grades that make her more mage-like, we just haven’t shown them off yet”

ABOVE The world de­sign is much more elab­o­rate than even the sec­ond game, Adams says. “You’re look­ing straight up or down and see­ing mul­ti­ple lay­ers of the level above you or be­neath you, or off in the hori­zon. For a guy like me [who] en­joys ex­plo­ration, I love that stuff. Start­ing to make the con­nec­tions about how the world fits to­gether and fig­ur­ing out how to get to dif­fer­ent places is an ap­peal­ing part of the gameplay, and now we can en­hance that ex­pe­ri­ence”

LEFT There will, says Adams, be nods to the two pre­vi­ous games, but Dark­siders III will open with a 2D sto­ry­book se­quence that will fill in the back­ground for new­com­ers.

Sloth is the game’s sec­ond boss: a bloated, lazy bug car­ried on the backs of his in­sec­toid min­ions. De­stroy­ing them makes him more vul­ner­a­ble

BE­LOW Adams says Gun­fire’s big­gest chal­lenge is be­ing good at ev­ery dis­ci­pline: “No one’s go­ing to give you a pass just be­cause you’re do­ing all of them”

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