Darksiders III (Switch) – Review
Follow Genre: Open world ARPG
Developer: Gunfire Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Darksiders III (Switch) – Review

Site Score
Good: Great voice performances
Bad: Poor visual optimisation that hurts overall performance
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(1 votes)
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Rating: 3.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Last year, the Darksiders franchise celebrated its 10th anniversary, albeit with little fanfare. We’re well overdue for a new mainline entry in the Darksiders franchise, which could complete the saga by telling the story of Strife, the fourth horseman, but it’s eerily silent on THQ Nordic’s behalf. While fans on other platforms are still waiting for a Darksiders IV announcement, those that play exclusively on the Switch are only now getting the opportunity to catch up on the series with the arrival of 2018’s Darksiders III on Nintendo’s hybrid console. We were fairly happy with the Darksiders II Switch port, but Darksiders III is a chunkier title. Is it a title worth (re)visiting on the Switch, if only for the portability factor?


An opening cutscene introduces us to Fury, one of the four horsemen (or in this case, horsewoman) of the apocalypse, around whom the Darksiders franchise is built. Fury is tasked by the Council with tracking down and returning the seven deadly sins, who have escaped out into the world. She agrees to do so but only in exchange for the position of leader of the horsemen. Accompanied by a so-called Watcher, who has been appointed by the Council to keep an eye on our protagonist, Fury sets out to perform her arduous task. While it’s not the most original premise, there is still enough bite to the story to care about this world and the characters that inhabit it. Just don’t expect a Shakespearian tragedy or a tale filled with dilemmas or moral ambiguity as Darksiders III’s story provides exactly what it says on the tin.


Unfortunately, it seems like the Switch bites off more than it can chew with Darksiders III’s visuals. There is a massive amount of texture downscaling, which is especially apparent during cutscenes, leaving the 3D models and the environments underwhelming compared to the versions on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Downgrading the textures should help with the game’s performance, but it seems like not enough has been done here either, as the game often suffers from stutters and frame drops, especially during the more action-packed combat sequences. The performance issues seemingly became more frequent as we progressed through the game, because the world was opening up and action became more frantic.

Darksiders III isn’t the worst looking game on Switch by far, but we can’t help but compare it to the superior and cheaper versions available elsewhere, and the fact remains that the visual performance is lacking enough to distract from the overall gameplay experience. A technical gripe related to the visuals that we have to mention is the intermittent loading when you move between areas. More often than we liked, the game simply froze when we wanted to walk through a doorway, keeping us in place for five to ten seconds as a blinking icon reassured us that the game wasn’t bugging out but simply loading the next area. Minor hindrances like this really break the flow of gameplay.


Contrasting with the visuals is Darksiders III’s fantastic soundscape. Front and center here are the voice performances. The game is fully voice acted and the cast does an excellent job at bringing the characters to life. Whether it’s Cissy Jones’ rendition of Fury or the never disappointing Phil LaMarr as Vulgrim, each character is memorable thanks to the actors portraying them. The soundtrack is great as well, really aiding in immersing the player in the on-screen action, with music that gets you pumped during the boss battles.


It’s hard to imagine that anyone who considers themselves a frequent gamer isn’t at least somewhat aware of what a Darksiders game is like, given that the series has popped up in one form or another on pretty much every console since 2010. Even so, Darksiders III takes the ARPG series in a slightly different direction. Unlike the previous two titles, which were mainly built around hack and slash combat, Darksiders III requires a little more finesse, with dodging enemy attacks becoming an extremely important mechanic. The game feels more difficult as a result, as mindless button-mashing is replaced with a need for careful timing and a more strategic approach to defeating enemies. While not quite on the same level of difficulty as Dark Souls, there is still a massive jump between Darksiders III and Darksiders II, with the more recent title providing a much bigger challenge than its predecessor.

Given that we’ve already gotten the original Darksiders and Darksiders II on the Switch, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’d eventually get the final chapter of the original Darksiders trilogy. We’ve already taken a look at Darksiders III when it originally launched on other platforms way back in 2018, and the Switch port subsequently doesn’t bring any surprises to the table. Yes, it includes the DLC, as well as an option that allows the game’s combat to feel closer to that presented in the original two games. This option was absent when Darksiders III originally launched but it was included in an update down the line, so it’s only logical that this option is present in this version as well.

The biggest question here is one of performance. We already know that the Switch has issues running some of the more demanding games, and although Darksiders III isn’t a new game, having originally launched in 2018, the Switch itself is even older. When a game is specifically designed with Nintendo’s hybrid console in mind, such as the excellent Monster Hunter Rise, we truly see what the Switch is capable of, but more often than not ports struggle to shine due to poor optimization. We’ve already covered the game’s underwhelming visual performance but how does the fast-paced gameplay hold up?

We’re happy to say that for the most part, it all holds up fairly well. Controlling Fury feels intuitive and natural and combat is satisfying and fun as a result. The game’s two modes make for two completely different experiences. The aforementioned Classic Mode, which feels much closer to the two original games, makes for a more relaxed experience, as it requires less precision. Meanwhile, playing the game as it originally launched provides a much bigger challenge, not just in how you control Fury but also in how the game’s healing system works. It’s difficult to name one mode superior over the other, as they are sure to appeal to different types of players.

That said, not all is perfect with Darksiders III’s gameplay. Those looking for the intricate environmental puzzles present in the previous two games might feel disappointed with this offering. While there are still some of these around, they are far more simplistic, with the game putting a lot more focus on combat and less on exploring the world around you. This feeling is further emphasized by the lack of a map. You won’t feel lost as the game takes a linear approach, but the result is a supposedly ‘open’ world that doesn’t feel open at all.

That said, the good still far outweighs the bad here, and the majority of the issues we had with Darksiders III on Switch are the result of poor optimization of the port rather than poor game design. The upside is that these are things that could for the most part be resolved with a performance patch in the future, something we’ve seen done with titles like The Outer Worlds in the past. As it stands though, the Switch version of Darksiders III is definitely not up to par with the versions of the game available on other platforms. The only USP that the Switch has, being able to play the game in handheld mode, isn’t worth it given that you can get the superior version much cheaper.


At the time of writing, we’re having a hard time recommending the Switch port of Darksiders III. Our opinion might change in the future, if THQ Nordic bothers with a patch or two to do something about the abysmal visual performance and the immersion-breaking intermittent loading. It’s not that Darksiders III is a bad game, because combat is both exhilarating and fun, but there is simply no good reason to pick it up as a Switch game if you’re able to play it on any of the other platforms it is available on. If it’s patched up, and perhaps has received a significant price drop, it might be worth looking into, but for now, we’re going to have to say you’re better off skipping this one.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Darksiders III (Switch) - Review, 3.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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