Is Darksiders 3’s reliance on a Woman with a Whip trope in poor taste?

Darksiders 3 was officially announced last week by way of a 2-minute trailer. It was previously unclear if the series would continue after its parent company THQ went out of business. However, Nordic Games, now THQ Nordic, has resurrected the series and the franchise will be returning in 2018.

I first played Darksiders 2 on my Wii U back in 2013. It was the Zelda game I knew we would never get from Nintendo. I looked forward to the sequels and was disappointed when THQ went under. Years later, an unexpected trailer for Darksiders 3 drops. I started watching it with stars in my eyes, which faded in the last third of it. Can you guess why?

Let’s recap some Darksiders lore: The series follows the Four Horsemen outlined in the Book of Revelations from the Bible. For the heathens in the room, these Four Horsemen– War, Death, Fury, and Strife– will bring about the Apocalypse. Darksiders 1 and 2 followed the stories of War and Death respectively. Darksiders 3 puts players in control of the third Horseman, Fury, who is apparently a whip-wielding she-devil.

There’s just something about having a female protagonist for the third entry in a series that feels pandering. Upon research, however, I learned that Fury was always intended to be female since the first game came out and that her original concept art from almost 8 years ago was actually degrading. Her new armored design is practical while still alluring. My issue is her primary weapon.

The trailer shows her decapitating a large demon with her glowing pink whip, a weapon that has a sexualized connotation with regard to Dominatrixes. Many video games over the years have given female characters whips as if to suggest that even strong heroines need to be sexualized.

Does anyone remember Ivy from the Soul Calibur series whose large breasts were covered by an actual thread of cloth and who brandished a serrated whip? Skin-tight black leather-wearing Catwoman whipped up a furball of sensual phrases against her opponents in Injustice. A more recent example that comes to mind is Wonder Pink from the Wonderful 101 who attacked people with a thorn-adorned pink whip. The game’s camera used any excuse it could to look up her skirt.

Whips, as a functional video game weapon, are versatile and fun. You can attack enemies and pull levers from a distance, swing across chasms, and sweep an enemy’s feet out from under them. My problem isn’t with whips as weapons, it’s with it’s sexualized association with female characters. There are examples of male video game characters with whips but it is NEVER used as a prop to sexualize them. From what we know about Darksiders 3 so far, Fury is looking to be a really fun character who effectively uses her whip to take on a myriad of challenges. I’m looking forward to the game still, I’m just acknowledging that her main combat weapon comes with some baggage that players will be affected by whether they realize it or not.

Written by Marcus Garrett

Marcus created Top Shelf Gaming to celebrate the awesome things about the video game industry while challenging the areas of the video game community that could be improved. He loves playing guitar and eating tacos, but never at the same time.

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