Title: Desperados III
Developer: Mimimi Games
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Website: Desperados III
Genre: Real-time tactics
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Version Tested: Xbox One
When talking about Desperados III, there’s a couple of things you need to know about what it isn’t. This isn’t Red Dead Redemption 2 with a slightly different look. It’s not Call of Juarez either. The game feels a little bit like both of those, but that’s mostly thanks to the Wild West setting. The main characters also feel a bit like the characters out of those two games, but the similarities end there.
No, this isn’t an RPG on the frontier. It’s not even a shoot em up with a slightly different art style. Desperados III is more like Xcom in the Old West, though that’s not really a great descriptor either. There’s certainly some strategy involved, though that strategy and laying out the moves is done in real time, rather than mapping it out and then seeing how things play out. The best way to describe this game is by saying it’s a mashup of real-time strategy and Assasssin’s Creed.
You can certainly try to take on your enemies head on. There are ways to go into a situation guns blazing. It’s far smarter and you’ll be far more successful if you use some stealth along the way. Perhaps it’s only because I played it recently, but Desperados III most reminds me of something like Liberated, though their art styles are vastly different. But there’s quite a bit the two games have in common. Some of that is good news, some of that is bad.
Sneaking Is Key
While you’ll get to play as several different characters in the game, one thing is consistent across all levels. You are going to be vastly outgunned. We’re not talking two to one odds here. Think more about 10 to 15 to one. As I said, you can go into a situation guns blazing. Because you need to get through missions without any of your characters dying, it’s awfully hard to pull off the “shoot first and ask questions later” approach for very long.
Sneaking is something you’re going to have to perfect, though you’ll get plenty of chances to make yourself an expert. Enemies are equipped with vision cones so you have some idea if they can see you or not. They won’t be able to see you if you’re hidden in a bush or behind an obstacle, as long as you’re not standing up throwing caution to the wind.
The mechanics of the game mean you’re going to be doing a little bit of “hurry up and wait.” You’ll need to get into a bush and wait for someone on patrol to either walk away, or get close enough to you to knock out or kill. It’s not entirely clear why you would ever leave someone alive, considering they will eventually wake up. Obviously there are people who enjoy playing through these kinds of games using as little violence as possible. Those people will be happy to know there’s a way to go about it in Desperados III.
I embraced the ruthlessness of the old west, sneaking only enough to kill my enemies without being seen. You can also kill from long distance, most of the characters you play as are equipped with some kind of fire arm. It’s almost always a last resort though as shooting your gun will draw the attention of literally everyone. Unless you’ve already taken care of a good portion of the “bad guys” before you open fire, you’ll be overwhelmed quickly.
Desperados III Story Lacks Oomph
While the mechanics of the game are all well though out and work well together, the story leaves something to be desired. In fact, it feels like the story was a bit of an afterthought. That point might be best underlined by the fact that one mission is only very loosely tied to another.
The good news is that the game is plenty fun, even if there isn’t a compelling story. With missions that can last over an hour of careful planning, remembering just what the story leading up to a level is, becomes difficult anyway. Still, if the game had the same kind of attention to detail there, as it does to the look and feel of the game, this might be a contender for one of the best releases of the summer.
Verdict: Desperados III offers quite a bit to those who enjoy planning out their moves and using stealth to get through more enemies than you can shake a stick at. The game is benefitted greatly from an art style that stands out as quite pretty, even if the character models leave a little something to be desired. Perhaps the best news of all, for people like myself getting into what is now a fairly long-running series, is you don’t need to know what happened in the first two games, to thoroughly enjoy this one.