The lawless Wild West is a gold mine for entertaining experiences yet very few games are set there so let's check out Desperados III.
As a console gamer, I haven't heard of the Desperados franchise until trailers popped up for Desperados III. Although the series started on PC back in 2001, Desperados III marks its console debut and it was created by a different developer; Mimimi Games who also developed the similar game Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. With all of that out of the way, just what the heck is Desperados III and why should you care? Well, it's a real-time action strategy stealth game which sounds like a lot to take in but all of these genres actually combine into a rather intuitive formula. You play as gunslinger John Cooper who's on a mission of vindication and is joined by a ragtag group of outlaws including a hitman, trapper, and seductress and each character offers a unique set of useful abilities.
The core gameplay of Desperados III is unlike anything I've ever played before. The camera is pulled back and you control your characters from a bird's-eye view. As you traverse the stages, you'll have to remain within tall grass and behind structures as you gradually take out enemy guards who react with as much vigor as the adversaries in Hotline Miami. However, in this game, success relies much more on careful planning, strategy, and executing plans than it does on straight-up action. For example, you can tap a button to begin formulating a plan of action and after you're done deciding on what each member of your posse will do, you can simply execute your plan and watch what unfolds in real-time. Will you alert some guards? Will you miss your shot? Finding out is what makes it so exciting.
Even though Desperados III is far from realistic, its world feels alive thanks to the varied cast of characters who are brimming with strong personalities. Heck, even the enemies are interesting to watch as they converse with one another. To help make things even more realistic, the environmental visuals are extremely detailed and almost picturesque. Plus, the immersive soundscape adds a layer of engagement that's nothing short of impressive. Overall, the story, characters, and presentation form one memorable world.
Another aspect of Desperados III that I love is the amount of variety. You'll start with the abilities to shoot and stealthily kill foes but as you progress and recruit more allies; the number of abilities that you'll accumulate becomes staggering. One of the coolest things that I thoroughly enjoyed doing was laying a bear trap then whistling in order to get an enemy guard heading my way only for him to end up getting snagged in the trap. Moments like these are fantastically rewarding and experimentation is highly encouraged.
Of course, Desperados III isn't perfect but it is certainly great. One aspect that I found disappointing is that the controls seem well-suited for mouse and keyboard much more than a controller and they don't translate perfectly to console. Having to constantly adjust the camera as you hold the shoulder buttons to enter all sorts of wheel menus felt overly cumbersome. Finally, Desperados III relies very heavily on trial and error. In fact, you're encouraged to constantly save your progress mid-game which takes away from the overall sense of immersion. Also, having to try the same particularly tricky situation over and over again until you get it right can get tedious.
If you're looking for a highly enjoyable experience that's undoubtedly something different, Desperados III will provide hours of gunslinging good times. Plus, those who enjoy perfecting their strategies as they take a trial and error approach will absolutely love it.
- + Fantastic stealth-based gameplay that rewards careful strategic thinking
- + Excellent game world and characters
- + Loads of variety throughout
- - Controls are quite complex and don't translate perfectly to console
- - Relies heavily on trial and error