Review

Desperados 3 Review - Revolvers And Redos

  • First Released Jun 16, 2020
    released
  • PC

Desperados 3 is an elegant stealth tactics game that encourages experimentation.

Imagine being able to take back every mistake you make, instantly, reliving each moment over and over until it plays out as you hoped. In less astute hands, it could feel like an exercise in trial and error. In Desperados 3, however, it unfolds in masterful fashion, providing ample scope for you to dream up a multitude of creative plans alongside the ability to reset the board in a flash should the plan fail. It's a rapidfire process of forming an hypothesis, testing it and tossing it aside. By encouraging experimentation at every turn, Desperados 3 proves a stealth tactics game where invention thrives.

Stealth games can often degenerate into a loop of quick-saving and quick-loading. Desperados 3 is built around that loop, an aspect reinforced by a tutorial which instructs you on how to quick-save and quick-load before it tells you how to deal with an enemy. It's hammered home by regular pop-up notifications informing you of the time since you last quick-saved. You can customise this reminder--tweaking the delay or disabling it entirely--but the fact the default setting is to nudge you every 60 seconds ought to stress the importance of quick-saving.

Archetypal gunslinger John Cooper and his friends are rather fragile, even on the normal difficulty setting, while the cadres of thugs, gunwomen and assorted rifle-toting outlaws they find themselves up against are very much of the "shoot first, ask questions later" mindset. So when a plan heads south--as even the most meticulously observed ones are wont to do, usually when one of the gang gets spotted or occasionally a carelessly discarded body is found--it's very much a case of the quick-load and the dead.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Cooper's out for revenge. He's spent his whole adult life on the trail of a man named Frank. Desperados 3 is Cooper's story primarily, but it also weaves in the shorter tales of the four companions he recruits to form his gang: McCoy, the sharpshooting doctor; Hector, the grizzled merc; Kate, the runaway bride and rancher; and Isabelle, the "black magic" practitioner. It's a pulpy Western revenge narrative at heart and throughout these characters all struggle to escape the shackles of stereotype. They're rescued by writing that doesn't weigh down their conversations between missions with exposition and peppers mid-mission exchanges with a surprising amount of context-sensitive banter that draws out their relationships. Move McCoy and Isabelle into the same hiding spot, for example, and chances are one of them will comment on the situation, teasing out some finer strands of character detail. This chat--often funny and wryly observed--serves well as character development, building personal bonds between the gang of five who might otherwise come across as a little one-dimensional.

On a mission, much of Desperados 3 is spent in a state of observation, scratching your chin, deep in thought as you ponder your next move. Enemies patrol each level, a quick right-click on them revealing their vision cones, and it's your job to monitor their routes, noting where their cones intersect with other enemies and attempting to isolate a blind spot where you can slip through undetected. Each map becomes a web of overlapping data, with every enemy guard linked to one or more others by constantly roving sight lines. Contemplating the mission before you can feel like attempting some kind of horizontally sprawling Jenga puzzle where you're tasked with removing each piece without any of the other pieces noticing its disappearance.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Patience and diligence are rewarded. It's easy to spend minutes at a time just watching, trying to absorb all the information about the obstacles you're about to tackle. What makes formulating your next move so tactically satisfying is the interplay between the different behaviour types of various enemies and the broad range of skills your gang possesses. It works because enemy behaviour is predictable according to their type, theoretically meaning you can make a plan armed with full knowledge of how every enemy will react. You know that when Cooper tosses a coin behind that thug, he's going to turn around for just long enough to allow Hector to slip past. And you know that Isabelle can blow darts into two guards to spiritually connect them so that when McCoy shoots one with his Colt Buntline, both guards will drop. Theoretically, that is.

But these levels are so intricately designed, so crammed with interlocking parts, that when you go to execute your plan there's always something you didn't take into account, some additional factor that interrupts your ideal intention. The guard up on the roof who can see Kate kneeing that thug in the groin, perhaps, or the enemy you were hoping to distract instead spots Hector's footprints in the mud, or maybe Cooper just didn't have enough time to get rid of the body. Occasionally it's possible to improvise your way out of such trouble, but the vast majority of the time the best move is simply to hit the quick-load key and try again.

What's remarkable is that this quick-save and quick-load routine never becomes frustrating. Instead it feels liberating. You're free to try new things and give all kinds of wild ideas a shot. Most of the time, though, it feels as if you're gradually honing in on what is at first a vague gambit, and each fresh attempt adds more definition until eventually the successful strategy takes shape. It helps that the set of sixteen increasingly lengthy and convoluted missions continually shake up the scenarios, rearranging or introducing new elements--in this one there are regular civilians, this one's at night and some guards carry lanterns, or you've only got some of the gang available for this one--so that every mission manages to throw up a new challenge and test you to reinvent new strategies to progress. And it culminates in a brilliantly orchestrated final encounter that should be a textbook example of how to enable players to demonstrate all the lessons they've learned along the way.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Even better, once you've finished the sixteen story missions--which, I should emphasise, took me a good 40 or so hours--they can all be replayed to earn badges by completing certain tricky tasks, such as beating the mission without using firearms or not stepping on certain surfaces or killing multiple enemies with the same environmental accident. I particularly enjoyed diving into these because the restrictions forced me to play in new ways and find alternative solutions, making me appreciate anew the creativity and flexibility of the game's tactical options. There are even additional challenge missions unlocked throughout that repurpose existing maps with utterly new objectives, some of which proved to be among the most enjoyable and tactically satisfying in the whole game.

Desperados 3 is a superb package. It's a clever, cunning game of stealth and tactical thinking that, thanks to a generous quick-save system and wealth of informative visual cues, entices you to tinker with all the toys it has on offer and fully explore the possibility spaces of its elaborate levels. There's no need for a do-over here; Desperados 3 is a dead-eye shot on the very first try.

Back To Top

The Good

  • Superb, intricate, interlocking level design that constantly refreshes the challenge throughout
  • The reliance on quick-saving and quick-loading feels like a launching pad rather than a crutch
  • The interplay between character skills and enemy behaviour leaves plenty of room for invention
  • A generous UI makes it a breeze to compile and execute a plan
  • Witty in-mission dialogue elevates the main characters above mere stereotype

The Bad

About the Author

David Wildgoose played through the campaign on the normal difficulty in around 40 hours and spent another dozen or so sampling the challenge missions and higher difficulties. He played on PC with a Steam key supplied by the publisher.
28 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for mrcapone
mrcapone

26

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I have big fond memories from this franchise, always loved this game genre, and Desperados is indeed the best of its kind, perhaps because I also love the western theme. Thanks for the good review, this game is really a marvelous masterpiece.

2 • 
Avatar image for jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

3066

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

It this a WASTELAND 'like' game, which would be awesome.?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

8041

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Edited By DEVILTAZ35

I just played the free 1 hr trial on Xbox one X yesterday. This game is far better than i thought it would be . Aside from pretty ordinary voice acting anyway.

I love the authentic looking old Western Train too.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for angeldeb82
angeldeb82

1640

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Ah, yes! This is the game that Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation calls "the patron saint of c***up cascade".

Upvote • 
Avatar image for uninspiredcup
uninspiredcup

41729

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 86

User Lists: 2

Edited By uninspiredcup

@angeldeb82: Kind of a poor review, I get it's 80% comedy, but basic stuff like "you can only select one cone", yea, that's kinda why you survey the surroundings and have a highlight button.

Remember his Streets Of Rage 4 review being poor as well, guess once you get past the shtick not much substance.

2 • 
Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

2697

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 15

User Lists: 0

the first one is the demo i remember best from kidhood while i never got the actual game until my backlog was already unbeatable.

seeing this was a cool surprise but somehow this one looks a bit too much like plasticy childrens cartoon version. its hard to take seriously the grittiness of shooting someone down. the original looks like hand drawn noir western comic (yes i played the demo less than year ago because its so good bitesized blast from past) even if it also lets loose a bit

Upvote • 
Avatar image for s9743469
s9743469

104

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

I played the demo and really liked it. Planning to get the full game once it goes down in price.

3 • 
Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

8041

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@s9743469: I am the same. Maybe it will come to Gamepass too. I tend to wait a bit just in case.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

213

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 33

User Lists: 0

It's Shadow Tactics with a different skin and less brilliant maps/mission designs.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for ganondorf77
ganondorf77

405

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 9

User Lists: 0

@TigusVidiks: Yo mean it's Commandos with different skin and more or less fine designs (both Desperados and Shadow Tactics)

4 • 
Avatar image for uninspiredcup
uninspiredcup

41729

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 86

User Lists: 2

Edited By uninspiredcup

@TigusVidiks: This has more interaction than Shadow Tactics closer to something like Hitmans hiding in plain site and elaborate environmental triggers. Calling it a "reskin" is oversimplifying as it implies 0 effort, when it's iterative of a template Shadow Tactics itself didn't invent and itself iterated upon.

3 • 
Avatar image for aross2004
aross2004

7618

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

Been playing the shit out of this. It's pure Gold.

5 • 
Avatar image for uninspiredcup
uninspiredcup

41729

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 86

User Lists: 2

@aross2004: Yea, along with SOR4 easily my GOTY.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for lonewolf1044
lonewolf1044

2474

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 6

User Lists: 0

@aross2004: Yes, just got it as I own the other games in the series and will play it sometime down the road.

2 • 
Avatar image for inmycontrol
InMyConTroL

229

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 5

User Lists: 0

Fair review, this game is fantastic.

4 • 
Avatar image for Xevac
Xevac

145

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

Almost ONE month after release. One of the worlds largest gaming sites gets the review out for this ONE MONTH after release in a time where no games are released. This is a fantastic game and should have been on your radar at release!

This is just not good enough Gamespot!! The score is fully deserved tho!

10 • 
Avatar image for doorselfin
doorselfin

1985

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

doorselfin  Staff

@Xevac: It was definitely on our radar! But unfortunately, sometimes the right people for the job are not always available at the right time.

Thanks for reading!

4 • 
Avatar image for uninspiredcup
uninspiredcup

41729

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 86

User Lists: 2

Edited By uninspiredcup

@doorselfin: Aside from being reviewed a month later their is a massive disparity in coverage. Ghost of Tsushima will get barraged with articles with any subject that can be dreamed up, while a fantastic game (on the merits of being a good game than a mega-publisher) like 1 page 1 month late then pushed to the back never to be seen again.

2 • 
Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

8041

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@doorselfin: Oh well it got a well deserved score . Plus it gave me a chance to play the 1 hr trial on Xbox :)

Upvote • 
Avatar image for viniterra
viniterra

153

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 17

User Lists: 0

@doorselfin: for an entire month, on a game review site?

We regret to inform you that I don’t buy that.

6 • 
Avatar image for doorselfin
doorselfin

1985

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

doorselfin  Staff

@viniterra: Okay!

Thanks for reading!

2 • 
Avatar image for Xevac
Xevac

145

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 0

@doorselfin: But that is what bothers me though, i am sure that is not the fault of the reviewer but the planning of the people in charge of the site?

As i said Gamespot is one of the largest gaming sites in the world and should have planed for this in a time where almost no games were released, and should have more people on hand able to do a review for this?

Sadly the truth is that Mimimi is not a large enough company to care about, more important to give a great score to Last of us 2 before release. I would get your excuse if this was a indie site managed by 1 or 2 people, but it is Gamespot!

2 • 
Avatar image for doorselfin
doorselfin

1985

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

doorselfin  Staff

@Xevac: Sorry to disappoint you!

Thanks for reading!

Upvote • 
Avatar image for KoRniTo
KoRniTo

873

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 12

User Lists: 0

@doorselfin: Thanks, after this review, I plan on buying this game.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for doorselfin
doorselfin

1985

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

doorselfin  Staff

@KoRniTo: You’re welcome! Thanks for reading.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

3330

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

I really should get into these types of games.

2 • 
Avatar image for off3nc3
off3nc3

830

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 33

User Lists: 0

I grew up playing this series back in the day , i will always rate it a 10/10 unfortunately I don't have the patience for this kind of genre anymore , i played 2 missions and called it quits.

The game deserves all the praise though it is a very polished product and truly an amazing sequel.

3 • 
Avatar image for deviltaz35
DEVILTAZ35

8041

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

@off3nc3: I loved the train :) . It gets points just for having that scenario.

Upvote • 

Desperados III

First Released Jun 16, 2020
released
  • Linux
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

9
Superb

Average Rating

16 Rating(s)

8.6

Developed by:

Published by:

Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature
Blood, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence