Desperados III is an Engaging Modern Real-Time Tactics Game

Desperados III Review

Over the last few months, as the website really started to take off, I've been given multiple opportunities to step outside my gaming comfort zone. I used to primarily play FPS and third-person action-adventure games, however, recently I've gotten to play a variety of games from a low-poly racing game called Hotshot Racing to an open-world cyberpunk indie game with a pixel art style called Cloudpunk. Although while I have played racing games and indie games with pixel art styles in the past, one group I never tried before was a real-time tactics game. That's where Desperados III comes in. The game initially flew under my radar when it was released in June of last year, but now, while I'm in between games for review, I've gotten a chance to play through the first few missions from this RTS from German developer Mimimi Games.

Desperados III is set in the wild wild west and follows the story of John Cooper, a mysterious cowboy who's traveling across 19th Century western America in search of a bandit named Frank. Along the way, he crosses paths with four other characters, Doc McCoy, Hector Mendoza, Kate O'Hara, and Isabelle Moreau, all of whom have their own unique set of skills and equipment. Cooper's tale isn't anything remarkable and for fans of the Western genre, it's pretty cliche, but I actually consider that to be one of Desperado III's strengths. It doesn't pretend to put you in morally grey situations or try to pull the rug out from underneath you at every turn. Instead, the writing budget is spent on crafting five characters with distinct personalities that are fun to see on screen together. And, thanks to great voice acting, those characters are brought to life just as they were intended.

In each mission, you take control of Cooper and company to complete a set of objectives across a sizeable map. There is a decent amount of options made available to the player on how they want to tackle each situation and, although some baddies are only killable by one character, most can be taken on by any. This freedom of choice means that it takes some experimenting to understand each area and the enemies that populate it. It also means that each mission can take anywhere from forty minutes to double or triple that time depending on how slow you take it. Fortunately, trial and error isn't an excruciating process thanks to a quick save feature that actively encourages you to fail and try again. As I said earlier, each character has their own playstyle. Cooper can distract enemies with a coin and take them out with a knife throw whereas Hector has a giant bear trap and can whistle to lure enemies into it. Although they are all fun to play, Isabelle Moreau with her supernatural abilities is undoubtedly the most unique. The most fun is when you have them all work together.

Speaking of working together, Showdown mode adds a fun twist to gameplay. It allows the player to stop time and create a plan of action for the characters that they can then execute at the press of a button. This is great for taking out multiple enemies at once and nailing a Showdown plan always remains satisfying, despite me often forgetting about it for large chunks of time. One other cool feature in Desperados III, that isn't in many other RTS games to my knowledge, is the mission recap. At the end of a level, where it shows completion time, enemies killed, total saves, and other stats, the game also shows a zoomed-out view of the entire map with a path tracing each and every move you made in that level. For some of the longer segments in the game, this is quite a nice way to top off the mission.

Desperados III nails its western setting thanks to aptly fitting visuals and sound. The brown color pallet of the game is only disturbed by an enemy's bright green vision cones and the character's blue impact radius circles and there is a ton of detail packed into each of the different landscapes. Scorpions crawling the blistering hot desert and grass swaying gently in the wind aren't necessarily things players will take the time to notice, but they do flush out the world just a little bit more. Although that isn't to say that animations are entirely perfect as there are more than a few times where items such as weapons that characters are supposed to be holding in their hands in cutscenes just float a few inches above. I've already praised the voice acting but on the note of sound, I do want to bring mention to Filippo Beck Peccoz's 3 volume soundtrack to the game that feels ripped right out of a Clint Eastwood film. I usually opt to listen to a podcast during gameplay sequences in games like this but there were times that the score was just too good for me to switch.

As it stands now, Desperados III is a fantastic introduction to the RTS genre with lengthy missions that encourage trial and error. Its story isn't anything to write home about but its characters are great and their banter throughout the missions is what makes the slow-paced gameplay entertaining. Plus with the added benefit of great voice acting and a fitting score, Desperados III is worth playing for fans of the Western genre. Desperados III is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A review code for the Xbox One was provided by the publisher and I played the game on an Xbox Series S.

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