While it may not be obvious at first glance, Desperados III is perhaps one of the best stealth games to come out in the past few years. It’s not something I was actually expecting going into the game, especially when taking into account it’s western setting, but this game has managed to thoroughly surprise me.
Make no mistake when jumping into this title, Desperados III is a very challenging game, especially so if you plan to stealth your way through most of it like I did. Combat encounters are more about thinning out as much of the enemy hordes as possible via stealth, before your cover is blown and you end up in a good old fashioned cowboy shootout.
Expect to reload your game a lot as you play through it, because figuring out the best approach during any scenario has more to do with practice, trial and error than luck. Sometimes you’ll be sneakily killing off enemies left and right, and then a single wrong move will alert all enemies in a camp to your location.
At this point you can just go all out guns blazing, but retrying the encounter stealthily while also learning from your previous failure is an infinitely more satisfying alternative. Going loud will almost always be your very last resort.
Each of the five playable characters in the game come equipped with their own set of weapons, tools and abilities, and learning the best situation to use each of them is the key to success in Desperados III.
For example, main character John Cooper has access to a ranged knife attack, and Hector Mendoza can deploy a Bear Trap that can instantly kill enemies who walk into it, but it’s also very loud and can alert nearby enemies. Kate O’Hara can put on disguises and walk around enemy camps, distracting enemies with her Flirt ability or Luring them into harm’s way.
The most unique, and perhaps some might say out of place, character is the magically gifted Isabelle Moreau. While she may have any sort of direct attack apart from a melee takedown, Isabelle can use her Voodoo powers like Connect to link two enemies together. This way when one of these enemies is killed, so is the other one automatically. She can also use Mind Control to possess a foe, and then use them to stealthily move around enemy encampments and trigger environmental traps like falling platforms or stacked crates.
Mixing and matching each of the character abilities, and making a plan of attack that suits your needs is consistently entertaining and rewarding. You can execute these plans as you go in real-time, or you can pause and use a tactical mode to lay out the blueprint for a beautifully choreographed sequence of events.
Each character is useful throughout the course of the game, and they’re also just generally well written. The conversations between our protagonists that take place during sections of gameplay are not only playful and endearing, they flesh them out as fully realized characters with their own personalities and preferences. It also helps that the voice acting is phenomenal.
Each of the game’s missions take place in some exceptionally detailed and well realized settings, most of which absolutely nail the old western aesthetic that the game is going for. From riverside camps, to dark swaps, to desert outposts and even populated towns, Desperado 3’s level layout is fantastic.
These maps are also very large and open-ended, giving players a wealth of different options when it comes to how to approach an enemy encounter. They’re also full of many different moving parts, from innocent civilians minding their own business, to trains that pass by every now and then. No location ever feels too artificial or stagnant.
Desperados III is also a very pretty game, and makes very well use of lighting and shadows. You’d expect a western title to make use of a fairly bland colour scheme, but this game makes use of a very vibrant colour palette. One of the most visually appealing levels in the game in fact is very colourful, and makes excellent use of different foliage, flowers and bright colours to stand out from the others.
My experience with the game was also relatively bug free, and apart from a minor hitch or two, I never saw anything that broke the game. And while it runs exceptionally well on the Xbox One X, I would like to point out that this game looks great on the base Xbox One as well.
In conclusion, Desperados III is a tough-as-nails tactical stealth game that requires a lot of time and patience to master. It’s levels are complex, challenging, and will have you spending hours trying to find the perfect plan of attack. It’s main characters are unique and interesting, and the game world is beautifully detailed.
Expect to lose your sense of time while playing this game.
Desperados III is out now on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and the PC. It was developed by Mimimi Games and published by THQ Nordic. This review covers the Xbox One version of the game.
The review code was provided by the publisher.
Desperados III review
Desperados III is a fantastic tactical stealth game that will eat up hours of your time. It’s tough, engrossing, and thoroughly entertaining.