QUICK DRAW
PC Gamer|September 2020
QUICK DRAW
Grab your stetson and sneak your way through the Wild West in DESPERADOS III.
Fraser Brown

There is no dearth of handy tools in Desperados III, so it’s hard to pick a favourite. The brutal bear trap that clamps its jaws around anyone unfortunate enough to walk over it has to be a contender, but I’m also rather partial to the darts that let you kill two enemies with one blow – through magic, no less. None of them saved my arse quite as often as the humble F5 and F8 keys, however, and the rest of my arsenal would be useless without them.

Every one of its stealthy encounters is its own puzzle, and every puzzle is a chance to experiment and, more often than not, fail. Desperados III is all about a team of specialists working in sync, using preternatural precision and timing to overcome seemingly impossible odds, but the journey to perfection is full of slapstick escapades and catastrophes. A split-second or an inch can mean the difference between an effortless display of teamwork and a team full of corpses, but with quicksave in one holster and quick load in the other, you’ll get there eventually.

Maybe your very clever attempt to drop an entire wall on someone was foiled because a guard turned around and spotted you at the last moment, so you try again but this time send someone in a disguise to distract the guard. Another enemy might see through their disguise, however, but not if you’ve made this mistake before and wisely remembered to plonk down a trap right in their path.

Though it’s a prequel to 2001’s Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive, Desperados III is really Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun’s successor. Like Mimimi Games’ last real-time tactical stealth affair, it’s got smart – but not too smart – enemies, intricate maps overflowing with opportunities for cleverly orchestrated murder and, if you fancy it, some mayhem, a quintet of proficient killers and sneaks, and best-in-the-business vision cones. As one of the greatest stealth games of the last decade, the Edo-era romp is a tough act to follow, but its Wild West cousin looks to some other great stealth games for inspiration.

SOCIAL LIFE

A few missions take place in civil zones where you’re free to explore most of the map without drawing attention to yourself. While out for a stroll, you can listen in on conversations to get clues, helping you identify your targets or find ways to kill them. It’s social stealth very much in the same vein as the Hitman games, but only the bare essentials. Rather than taking you down an elaborate path, the clues are more like ‘there’s a loose sign hanging above that guy’s head’ and you’ll still spend most of the mission sneaking and killing your way through off-limits areas full of guards.

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September 2020