22 June 2024

After a 14-year break between his predecessor, Desperados III, produced by the Mimimi Games studio and published by THQ Nordic, finally sees his aim being improved against the “bad boys” of the West. Following the same line of thought regarding the game genre, this is a real-time strategy title with an accentuated premise on the stealth side.

Desperados III is presented as a prequel to the original game so that no prior knowledge regarding its plot or characters is necessary or tremendously important for players who have never ventured into this story.

The story begins with the thirst for revenge that John Cooper is looking for, and how all the characters met and joined this cause. The adventure takes place in a vibrant and captivating environment, from Colorado to the deserts of New Mexico.

In total there are five Desperados, or in other words, five playable characters that are assigned to each level by the computer itself. Three well-known characters and two completely new characters.

John Cooper, who has served as the main character in previous titles, appears with his famous knife and pistols, which can be fired simultaneously to take out two enemies at a time. You also have an infinite number of coins at your disposal, which help to distract your opponents. Dr. McCoy, who serves as the pack’s nurse, accompanied by his sniper-style pistol, as well as his suitcase that contains a gas that leaves anyone K.O, including him, if he is very close. Kate O’Hara also reappears with her long dresses, full of poisonous charm. She manages to divert the attention of any guard and brings her a pistol and perfume that blinds the enemies for a brief moment.

Regarding the new characters, the first to be introduced is Hector Mendoza. A whiskey fan, he carries his beloved Bianca the bear trap on his back, the whistle that works as a technique to attract enemies, both for his trap, as well as for a melee attack with his axe and a shotgun that allows you to hit multiple enemies. Finally, the most intriguing and specific character of the group, Isabelle Moreau, the swamp witch. With her supernatural powers, she can control the guards’ minds as if they were a voodoo doll. It is also possible to telepathically join two enemies together to carry out a double attack. It seems strange, but in practice, it is very well implemented. Don’t forget about her cat, which allows the player to distract the guards.

All the action takes place in real-time. However, there is a possibility to use the ability to stop time and plot a sequence of moves for the flock before executing them all at once. With this, it is possible to quickly shoot down the enemy and resort to the nearest bush or house to hide the body, so as not to alert the guards to its presence. It is, in fact, an interesting concept that allows the player to choose his type of play in detail.

Note that it is possible to combine these actions with opportunities that the environment provides the player. The presence of horses or bulls, combines perfectly with the skill of John Cooper’s coin, or elements such as rocks or even church bells, which become deadly and quite plausible weapons of a random event without the intervention of the group.

Even with all these skills and possible combinations, most missions are spent trying to avoid the eyes of enemies. In this case, the bushes are the biggest escape point for the characters. Of course, it is also possible to use a wall or a rock as an escape point.

In addition to this escape mechanics, there is the mechanic of pressing a simple button to save each progress in the mission. Yes, unlike the Cowboy films where the quickest one wins, in Desperados III the fastest one to hit the save is the likely winner. Even the game itself alerts the player every 60 seconds to save their progress. Of course, this notification can be turned off, but it accentuates the whole premise of trial and error.

Each mission can easily take hours to complete, both because they are extensive and complicated to reach the main objective. The enemies have what is called a “cone vision” and with the help of a tool, it is possible to follow its path. This tool is also useful to know the degree of attention that enemies have with each action. The dashed line indicates that the enemy have reduced vision over the point, for example at great distances. In this case, it is possible to cross the path in a lower position, in other words, that is not normal walking. Within this idea there are colors, green indicates that it is safe to move forward, yellow indicates that the enemy is aware that something is happening and red indicates that the enemy is really sure that the character is in that range of action, usually it is when he starts the attack. It turns out that normally each “outpost” is filled with eyes that protect each corner, which makes the prior mapping of the area very important.

In a positive sense, this title does not introduce any surprise movement on the part of the enemies. Each move is timed and accurate, unless the player alerts them, or fails to properly hide a body. In this case, the alarm sounds and the entire outpost will be alerted to the presence of enemies in the vicinity. The result will almost always have the same fatal outcome. If one of the group’s members dies, the mission ends, thus returning to the previous save point.

Some missions introduce new elements, which make the whole experience refreshing. The inclusion of trains that serve as a wall to the other side of the line and that forces the player to have perfect timing to shoot down enemies.

The entire layout presented for the controller, in this case, PS4, is well structured, but sometimes you feel the lack of a simple mouse slide to select the whole team, or with the simple touch of a key to open, close and rotate the map. The learning curve is also present in this sense, however, with the advance of the adventure and experience, all these notions are mere things of the past.

Desperados III is a fun game with lots of tactics to mix. There is indeed a lot of juice to be squeezed and the fact that you can embark on this adventure several times and approach each situation differently is an attraction for both veterans and new players of this kind.

You can also read this review in Portuguese at Meus Jogos website.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by Dead Good PR.]