After a hiatus of around 15 years, we are finally about to get a new Desperados game from Mimimi Games and THQ Nordic. Desperados III currently has a free demo available on GOG as part of the platform’s Summer Sale, so I decided to take a look at it ahead of the game’s full release in a few weeks.
The GOG demo contains the tutorial, the first mission (which is itself essentially an extended tutorial), and a little bit of the second mission. This took me around an hour to get through myself, and I’m happy to say that Desperados III is shaping up to be an awesome game.
The tutorial follows the franchise’s protagonist, John Cooper, when he is still a young boy training with his father. This tutorial teaches you the basics of movement, stealth, and controlling one character, while the first mission tells you everything you need to know to coordinate between several characters.
While the demo doesn’t really get too deeply into the story, its implied to have something to do with Cooper tracking down an outlaw that presumably killed his father at some point between the tutorial and first mission.
Desperados III is a prequel to the first game, and the first mission in the demo involves Cooper’s faithful meeting with Dr. McCoy, one of the main characters of the original games. The two team up to take down a massive and well-coordinated robbery targeting the train they were both traveling on moments before.
This first mission is quite linear, as expected from what is essentially a tutorial. The mission teaches you the game’s fundamental mechanics, namely how to coordinate your characters and time your actions as they sneak, stab, and shoot their way through groups of outlaws.
As with the previous games, Desperados III is first and foremost a character-driven stealth game. Your characters can die very quickly if you mess up, placing the emphasis on silently and methodically taking out bandits one at a time, or simply sneaking past them altogether.
The second mission looks significantly more complex, and involves sneaking around a town to assassinate four people. While the demo ends before you get too far into the mission, the brief tease is enough to show players just how much freedom later missions will contain.
Each character has a selection of cooldown-based weapons and skills at their disposal. Cooper has a knife that he can use to slit throats up close, or throw for a ranged takedown. He doesn’t have an infinite number of knives, however, and must go retrieve it once thrown. He can also toss coins to cause distractions.
Finally, Cooper has a pair of revolvers. As you can imagine, these noisy implements of ranged death can cause quite the commotion, restricting their usage somewhat. However, in the tactical pause mode he can aim each revolver independently, allowing him to take out two enemies at once.
McCoy is more focused on traps and subterfuge. He has a poisoned syringe that functionally acts like a knife for use in stealthy melee takedowns. His main gadget is his handbag, which can be thrown a short distance. Should an enemy spot it, they’ll come to investigate, and once they open the bag, it releases a noxious gas that momentarily stuns them.
As a doctor, McCoy can also patch himself and other characters up with bandages, restoring a little bit of health. Finally, McCoy has a custom, long barrel revolver with a scope and stock. This functions much like a sniper rifle, allowing McCoy to take down lookouts from long range.
The second mission introduces Hector, a huge Mexican tracker. He carries an axe for close range, and his trusty bear trap which can be placed on the ground to murder unsuspecting brigands. This bear trap can be combined with his high-pitch whistle to lure nearby enemies closer.
His love of ridiculously strong drink manifests in a canteen of liquor that can be used to restore some health, but unlike McCoy, it’s a self-target ability only.
Managing all these characters at once in real-time can be quite the chore, but luckily the game has the tactical pause that I briefly mentioned above. This allows you to more easily coordinate your actions with your entire team of characters. While paused, you can queue up orders, telling characters to move to specific locations, or perform actions.
This feature allows you to create some fairly elaborate plans without having to babysit each character individually. Once you have the orders queued, you can choose to execute them immediately, or return to real-time to more easily time your plans with enemy patrol routes.
You’ll clearly need the skills of each character too, due to the quirks of the various enemy types. In addition to your standard outlaw gunmen, the demo featured Ponchos and Longcoats.
Ponchos are cautious and experienced outlaws that are harder to trick, meaning they won’t go investigate suspicious objects like McCoy’s bag. Longcoats, on the other hand, are tall and strong bear-like men that can only be taken out with guns or Hector’s axe.
The demo made me really excited to play Desperados III when it releases later this month. The game has quite a bit of complexity already, and you only get to use two characters at once in the demo. I can only imagine how elaborate the game can get later on, in a more open level with access to all five characters.
Even with that complexity, Desperados III looks to have a slick UI and well-designed mechanics. The game gives you all the tools you need to set up your characters and coordinate their actions, and it’s up to you to puzzle out the most efficient way to get past any given group of outlaws.