Back in 2012, THQ released one of their final titles as a publisher, Darksiders II from Vigil Games, before the studio shuttered their doors and sold off their properties later that year. With many fans and critics being left impressed by the number of improvements that the second Darksiders made upon its predecessor, many were curious as to which team would wind up with the RPG IP. Along with a significant number of previous THQ properties that were acquired over the past five years, one of the first franchises that Nordic Games, now known as THQ Nordic, acquired back in 2013 was Darksiders, which was one of the first key factors that led to this relatively unknown publisher becoming one that fans have started to keep an eye on during this console generation. Both of the original titles received remasters in 2015 and 2016, but it was the developer behind the remastered sequel that drew some attention: Gunfire Games, a studio that had primarily worked on VR titles, but had started to gather some key members from Vigil Games as of 2014.
This tie between Darksiders and some original Vigil Games members led to plenty of speculation that the oft-discussed future of the fantasy RPG series could come to fruition, and back in May of last year, THQ Nordic confirmed the rumors with the announcement of Darksiders III from Gunfire Games. This marks not only the first non-VR or remaster title from Gunfire, but also one of the first major new releases from THQ Nordic based on one of the properties they had gained ownership of in recent years. In the months to follow, the first trailer and gameplay would show some promising footage, presenting fans with a new protagonist, Fury, and the rare opportunity to get excited for a new release in a series that easily could have stayed dead, from a noteworthy number of developers who worked on the entries that made it so memorable. There’s been little to dispel this excitement, as new trailers look to legitimize this third entry by not simply making callbacks to the originals, but by evolving the core mechanics and plot to attempt to stay relevant in a rapidly-changing industry.
Yet, there’s still plenty of reason to be cautious about the newest Darksiders as well. After a six year absence, there’s no guarantee that the returning and new developers can recapture the same spirit that made both of the original titles stand tall in the genre. While the reunion of numerous Vigil Games members is welcome news, the smaller nature of the studio and the publisher supporting it by comparison almost certainly means a smaller budget for this AAA title, which could lead to some concerns regarding length and polish. Additionally, the release date is not doing the returning franchise any favors, as it not only releases after the vast majority of the fall’s biggest titles which will already have sapped many gamers’ wallets, but it also launches after Black Friday weekend, which means the title will miss out on arguably the biggest retail weekend of the year. These factors won’t hinder the anticipation of the more dedicated fanbase, but it could end up being enough to sway more casual fans of the franchise or genre.
Darksiders III will prove to be a big test for not only the franchise as it moves onto the latest console generation, but Gunfire Games and THQ Nordic as well, as they step into the spotlight during one of the busiest times on the gaming calendar. A new protagonist, updated gameplay mechanics and a plot that looks to further the lore are a smart step in the right direction, but plenty of questions still remain as to whether the game can manage to stand on its own not just for fans, but a wider audience of gamers. Players won’t have to wait long to discover the next steps for the four horseman, as Darksiders III releases on November 27 for PS4, Xbox One and PC.