It has been almost 15 years since the western of the Desperados franchise completely disappeared from our consoles, leaving the brand in an eternal hiatus that many fans believed would never end. And so it was until a few years ago THQ Nordic acquired the brand and gave Mimimi Studios the opportunity to start exploiting the IP again through Desperados III, a new installment that takes up the witness of the classic game of tactics in real time.
Now, in the middle of 2020, Desperados returns with a third installment that moves away from the innovations and changes of Desperados II to continue building on the basis of the original Desperados. But, ¿does the franchise manage to adapt to the passage of time, maintaining its essence and being, above all, a good video game?
Following in the wake of a classic
The first thing we must be clear about when we enter Desperados III is that it is not an action or shooting game. Mimimi Studios moves away from the classic representation of the western full of gunfights and action to place us in a scenario that, in its playable proposals, is very similar to the original Desperados. A tactical combat system, isometric view, and an approach that rewards playing head-on and stealth rather than the trigger-release are the mainstays of the playable section of Desperados III.
However, if we have to look for a video game to compare it to, that is undoubtedly Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. This is the previous work of Mimimi Studios and the mechanics have been adapted in a practically exact way, so that if you have played this video game, Desperados III will be extremely familiar.
Desperados III is a tactical game with a focus on stealth. This means that the video game forces us at all times to think well about our actions and their repercussions on enemies and allies. Taking advantage of the environment and the abilities of our characters and having the possibility of stopping time to chain movements, our objective is to develop a master plan that allows us to complete the objectives of the missions (which are usually to finish with a specific objective) of the most efficient way possible.
Something that stands out in the playable is that Desperados III manages to offer the player enough freedom to find their own path in this race for murder in the western world. Although the objectives are fixed and there is usually only one way to complete them (either by killing a character or by blowing something up), the possibilities to reach these situations are enormous. The abilities of the different characters that we handle, their combinations and the ways of taking advantage of the environment give rise to unique situations where we, as players, come up with one solution among many to each problem.
This makes Desperados III a video game that is incredibly fun and satisfying playable. It makes us really feel like geniuses behind a master plan that has turned out just the way we want. In addition, fast saving (which from the beginning is presented as a key element) allows failure to be practically insignificant. We can plan any madness that occurs to us and carry it out without fear of repeating entire levels or wasting time.
Exploration also plays a bigger role in Desperados III with the introduction of so-called civil zones. In these we can move with total freedom as if we were ordinary citizens (as long as we do not attack anyone or act suspiciously) to try to explore the possibilities offered by the map. There are many secrets that are hidden in this way in Desperados III and that, as was the case in Shadow Tactics, favor replayability to explore alternative strategies.
Perhaps one of the few buts that can be put to Desperados III is that the handling of the camera, which was already somewhat annoying in Shadow Tactics, has not been improved. Although with the passage of time we get used to it, the completely free camera is, when we play in real time, sometimes an inconvenience that causes us to lose more information than we find.
As for the visual, Desperados III once again adapts the cliché aesthetic of the western to make it his own. Although it is not a leading video game in terms of graphics and is far from, for example, Red Dead Redemption III, the truth is that it is very pleasing to the eye thanks to the technical leap compared to the first installments of the saga. These almost 15 years are noticeable and Desperados III offers a technical section that meets and that allows the Wild West that it presents to us to be quite striking.
The variety of scenarios is one of the highlights of the game. From different cities to other typical western natural settings, all of them are visually exploited so that we never have the feeling of playing in the same place. The drab wilderness that is the American West is avoided and represented with as much variety as possible.
On the other hand, despite being a mechanically complex video game with a lot of information to show, the interface is really neat and the game is always concerned with showing us all the necessary information clearly and directly on the screen. This is appreciated, and more considering that the original Desperados was, at times, a tremendously dark product and not very accessible in this sense.
Something that, however, is missing is going further in terms of western. The video game adapts the western topics visually and in the construction of some characters, but it stays there. The problematic of the genre, the colonialism inherent to it and the more subtle narrative elements (such as the construction of structures of coexistence according to the founding American myth in this new frontier) remain by the wayside and not a single attempt is made to touch them. . The narrative remains a simple story and does not seek to further explore this environment, this American epic that the cinema has shown us is enormously rich in mythology and symbolism.
Desperados III is a video game that, for all of us who have played and enjoyed Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, comes as no surprise. Mimimi Studios has perfectly adapted the tactics and stealth formula of this work and has taken it to the Wild West, making Desperados III an outstanding and unique game while maintaining the essence of the saga and being a worthy successor to the same. Desperados III, despite the time that has passed, is not a reinterpretation or restart of the saga, but a faithful and quality continuation that will make fans fall in love.
An outstanding gameplay that favors going back over and over again on the missions to explore the freedom they offer, an interesting story and a visual section that fully complies are the pillars on which a video game sits that, without great fuss or flashy elements, it manages to be, as a whole, a round work. There are very few (and quite light) buts that we can put to Desperados III, a title that more than delivers what it promises and that, without a doubt, consolidates Mimimi Studios as one of the best current teams when it comes to games stealth.