Review: Desperados III (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Desperados III
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (37.06 GB)
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Publisher: THQ Nordiq
Developer: Mimimi Games
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Desperados III scratches an itch that might not even exist for some gamers. It did, however, for me. It targets fans of RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and asks them, “What if you could experience a Western adventure in this format?”. I took the call and found a very enjoyable, if challenging game.

This Western adventure starts easy enough, with you thwarting a train robbery by using stealth and your skills to either sneak past, outright attack, or use the environment against the enemy. It holds your hand through this training stage, making you feel like you can handle just about anything. And then the hand-holding stops, and you start to die a lot.

Fortunately, the game chooses to handle death in a way that is more appeasing to someone like me, who all but loathes Roguelite games. While you can’t rewind your mistakes in the game, you can do quick saves before making them and then reverse them with a quick load. This is all by design, as the touch pad on the DualShock 4 serves as a “quick save” button. The developer knew that mistakes would be made and incorporated that into the gameplay.

Progress is made in a mixture of real-time and paused interaction with enemies and the environment, thus my comparison to the Baldur’s Gate series of PC games. You can stop the game, give your characters instructions and then unpause and watch them execute them. It’s not turn-based, as everything happens in real-time, but you do have the choice to stop the action at any point in time, even during combat.

I ran into a lot of trouble almost immediately after the training stage. I was in a town where everyone was watching my moves, and enemies were on every street corner. I had to kill four thug leaders, and it seemed to me that almost everything I tried alerted the enemies, and no manner of “pausing” would save me from their rage. It was frustrating. But I don’t rate games on my lack of understanding them. Instead, I watched how every enemy patrolled the town, and started to slowly make my way from one scenario to another, until I was finally able to solve the level.

I feel like persistence and observation wins the day in Desperados III, but I also felt that I was limited to how I could approach certain scenarios. I’m sure there wasn’t only one way to skin this cat, but if there were other options, I couldn’t see them, and I didn’t want to look online for a solution because that would defeat my understanding of the game and its ability to teach me without outside help.

Still, the strategist in me (apparently a terrible one) persisted and found a lot of enjoyment in this type of game. You are not alone, and meet many companions along the way, all equipped with unique skills. In the sample above, I had a companion with me that could set bear traps and whistle to alert the enemy into their metal jaws.

I appreciate what Desperados III was trying to do and even found its gameplay unique and refreshing, if a little mean and punishing. Hey, at least I could fix my stupid mistakes with a “quick load”.

Visuals:
Like most games with this isometric view, it looks gorgeous from a distance, and that’s exactly how it’s meant to be experienced, thus character models don’t hold up to close-up scrutiny. And again, that’s ok.

The variety in the environments is also impressive and keeps things lively. Lighting is also instrumental in supporting that “western” tone.

Audio:
Desperados III has all around solid audio design, including some voice talent that taps into the spaghetti western vibe.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Maybe I approached the game with too much bravado, but the first couple of hours were pretty brutal to me. I kept making mistakes, and even the quick load didn’t really help, because it felt like everything that I attempted got me killed. But I stuck with it and learned to observe the world and its inheritance. With some persistence I discovered a game with a very unique gameplay and one that rewards planning and observation.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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