I like puzzles.
I also like Darksiders, and I was bummed that Darksiders III didn’t have as many puzzles as the previous entries. With this in mind, I am stoked that the game’s new DLC, Keepers of the Void, is just room after room of puzzling puzzles to smash my cerebral puzzle cortex.
Come on and slam
Keepers of the Void is touted as a story-based DLC, but it’s a bit rich to describe it as such. Technically it does take place within the game’s story – but from a narrative perspective it’s the equivalent of “Clear the rats out of my cellar” from a side NPC that doesn’t truly affect any part of the storyline. Sure, it’s a really neat cellar – and the NPC will give you a groovy item for clearing it out, but you aren’t going to uncover any rich plot twist or stunning revelation while you are there – just a bunch of craggy rock men and their puzzle rooms.
Speaking of rock men; I have to say that although the enemies are a neat design, by virtue of being faceless rock men – they just don’t have any personality. They mostly exist as combat fodder between puzzles. Though the DLC does try to be a bit tongue-in-cheek about this (encountering the lumbering ‘Boss’ rock people usually prompts some gung-ho exclamations from Fury, who then complains that they are silent), it does mean that Keepers of the Void has to lean heavily on its environment and puzzle design.
The fights are not ferociously difficult, but the mechanics and the way they ramp up is a refreshingly tight challenge
The environment is genuinely quite nifty – taking place in ‘The Void’ that hosts the Serpent Holes from the first Darksiders, you get to traverse a landscape of impossible floating platforms and ruins. The entire place is separated into particular wings that correspond to one of Fury’s ‘Hollows’, the powersups you gain throughout the game’s story. Because of this, the DLC is designed to be accessed at the same pace you gain these items – lacking a particular Hollow stops you from progressing entirely. It would be easy to write off the environment design as basic, but in actuality it’s brilliantly laid out to keep the player moving neatly from one puzzle to another, with some cleverly hidden secrets that feel extremely rewarding to discover and figure out.
The nature of the puzzles is one that I felt was exceptionally gratifying – initially coming across as a ‘final exam’-esque test of my knowledge of how I can use my particular Hollows, before expanding into a more broad opportunity to see how my different abilities would work together. Something the base experience of Darksiders III lacked (in my opinion) was a focus on using different Hollows within the same section of gameplay, usually focusing on just the one (if any). Keepers of the Void embraces all of the different Hollow abilities, and I was gleefully changing between my different Hollow forms to get from point A to point B – it was brilliant.
Finally, as far as combat goes the general chaff between puzzle rooms is standard fare, not especially difficult to cut through …but then you reach the bosses. These beefy, eerily silent rock dudes won’t even throw the first punch, they will wait for you to engage, and then all hell breaks loose. The fights are not ferociously difficult, but the mechanics and the way they ramp up is a refreshingly tight challenge. By the end of my experience with the lightning rock dude, I had genuinely reached a point where I was starting to panic as the damage just kept pouring into me and I was unsure how I could get through it until I dropped some mad cooldowns to turn into a giant avatar of death and cut down the zappy bastard. It was brilliant.
…Actually yes, this IS my final form
I wish more games would do narrative/story DLC – it feels like every other title is happy to drop in a horde mode or some pretty clothes to wear, but now and then I just want to see some more opportunities for characters to interact with each other. In the case of Keepers of the Void it wasn’t entirely what I was looking for – but I was surprised and enjoyed it nonetheless.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher