Desperados III: A unique, difficult, and massive test of planning and patience with a pretty satisfying payoff when everything comes together. Should you like its esoteric concept, you'll find plenty of content here, as well.

In Desperados III, you are a crew of nefarious outlaws lead by Cooper, a man who is seeking out a powerhouse named Frank to duel and get revenge for his father. There'll be mistakes and misadventures, too. The “gang” is actually a duo to start, and along the way you'll find more tag-along rapscallions to aid in the revenge tale. While self-aware that it's cheesy, it's not very captivating; it's really only there as an excuse to get the characters to a new set piece with new challenges. It's fine.

Every character has varying abilities and they share similar traits, but even those shared traits are personalized. For instance, every character can drag bodies, but some drag them along the ground in a hunched position (slow, but sneaky) while others pick them up and walk (fast, but obvious). Hector can hold two bodies, even run with them, and better yet throw them up a floor or across a gap. They've all got a “distract” option, but while Cooper can toss a coin and get guards to look in a certain direction, Kate can throw a vial of perfume and temporarily blind anybody in the blast radius.
Everybody has a useful specialty, like McCoy with his sniping pistol, Hector with his elite-slaying axe, and Isabelle with her mind-control darts, etc. You've got a destination in mind with a lot of baddies in the way on the lookout for you, so there's plenty of scenarios where you're to utilize everybody's strengths to get through a sticky situation. You can pause the game with Showdown Mode, where time stops and you can commit everybody to a singular action when you press Enter.

I'd say this game is basically a very flashy puzzle that grows in difficulty as times goes on. Honestly, towards the end, it's wildly difficult. I played on Normal and still had levels that took over an hour, some even took two. Hard difficulty increases the number of guards and how fast they spot you once you enter their field of vision, I gave it a go but just found it frustrating. Normal was enough of a challenge for me.
The way the game gets difficult is by making increasingly tough guard patterns. You don't “have” to kill most of them to finish a level, but you'll want to, because fuck them. Towards the end, there are more “Long Coats” (guards only Hector can kill with a melee attack, otherwise they need to be shot, which is loud) and multiple guards are watching other guards. In the beginning, a few people may wander from the group, just begging to be slaughtered. In the end, you'll be throwing Kate's perfume and Cooper's coin in different distraction directions, then killing two other guards linked by Isabelle's dart ability and a third with Hector's axe, then try to move all three of those bodies into bushes before the coin/perfume guys figure out what happened right in front of them. It's a lot.

So I say “puzzle” because while there's definitely multiple ways to approach a situation, you can usually tell what the intended option(s) is/are. You can (and should) beat it all without alerting any reinforcements, this is definitely a stealth game.

Should you like the demo or sound of this, the good news is the game is packed with content. There are sixteen main levels (again, some took me multiple hours, so good luck on Hard) and they all have challenges built into them, like taking a different path or beating it without using someone's abilities, etc. Then there are fourteen challenge levels offered by a mysterious Baron (who is definitely voiced by Geralt, but for some reason I cannot confirm this anywhere). These levels play through the previous campaign levels, only now with minor level variations or character changes. They're considerably harder than normal levels.
There are three DLC missions that are $5 each, or $13 if you buy a season pass, and I think that's highway robbery. This game doesn't need a season pass, first off, and second the content doesn't really justify the price. There's far more value packed into the base game than in these missions, one of which is only a tweaked level from the original campaign.

Desperados III is a very solid game, provided you can handle a lot of trial and error. You will be quicksaving/loading like a madman, as you'll go to kill a guard you think is in the clear but sure enough some dude way too far away barely sees you slicing that throat, therefore changing your whole approach. If you don't have a lot of patience, I think this game isn't for you. If you're looking for something different, this definitely is, and I think beating a level here is an extremely rewarding experience.

Reviewed on Aug 06, 2023