First Impression: Desperados III (PC – Steam) ~ Pimping Nostalgia

Official websiteSteam store page

I still remember when I first played the original Desperados back at a friend’s place. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked. To be very honest, I never really beat the original game. That’s mainly due to my playstyle. In action games, I love being more aggressive and “in your face” instead of being stealthy what that game more required. When the 3rd game got announced and released in 2020, I was beyond hyped to play it. But, a lot of different games just distracted me. I was also afraid that I wasn’t going to enjoy the game too much since… yeah my playstyle. But then, this month’s Humble Bundle got a key for Desperados III and I bought it. I started playing this game and yeah. I wasn’t wrong putting this game on my top 10 games I’m looking forward to in 2020 list. But, what exactly do I think about it? Well, I’ll explain in this article while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your thoughts and/or opinions on this article.

Pimping nostalgia

While this is the 3rd main entry in the series, you don’t need to have played the first two games to enjoy the story in this game. Since, this game is a prequel to the first game. Basically, the backstories of the main characters are set up in this game. While we see a few familiar faces to the originals two games, we also see two brand-new characters.

The pacing of the story is a little weird. Because, the main setup of the story is explained over the whole first chapter. You don’t want to know how many times I have rewritten this section to avoid spoiling something. Let’s just say that the story of this game is quite interesting and doesn’t disappoint for your typical Western story.

The story doesn’t overpower the game, since the star of the show is the gameplay. But, the story doesn’t disappoint at all. I love the voice acting of all the characters. The performances are amazing and fit their characters as a glove. I was surprised to learn that this game got a completely new cast to play the characters. If I hadn’t looked that up, for some characters I wouldn’t have been able to tell.

So, let’s move on from the story and characters and start talking about the gameplay. In this game, you have to complete several missions with a small group of characters. Each mission is different and not only in terms of the map you play on. For example, in one mission, you are trying to fight your way to the dock without any of your weapons and in another mission, your group is separated into two groups that start at the other side of the map.

Survival is awareness

If you want to survive in these missions, you have to be very aware of the characters in your crew. The main cast exists out of 5 characters. And all five of them have different weakness and strengths.

One character can throw a knife whilst the other is a sniper. Understanding their abilities and when you use them, is key. Something that this game does extremely well is that there are various ways of tackling each mission. So, you can play this game however you want.

The additional missions you can do in each chapter, give a clue on how different you can beat each mission. There are even missions where you can beat it without having to kill one guard. Whilst you are playing through a mission for the first time, the optional missions aren’t revealed to you. When you are playing through it again, then you can see the optional missions. You can earn badges for a more “perfect” score as well. On top of that, after beaten several missions, you can unlock new challenges where you can replay a mission with additional challenges and/restrictions.

The difficulty curve of this game is just polished extremely well. When a new character gets introduced, the mission is a sort of tutorial on how to use that character. I still remember that in the original game, after you rescue a character, you get a mission with barely any enemies where you learn how that character works. Not in this game. You get various “papers” you can pick up that show a short movie on how the mechanic works. This is such a breath of fresh air.

Something I adore in this game as well is the quick save and the quick load system. You might think that this mechanic is quite aggressive. Since, when you haven’t saved in a hot minute, you get a pop-up almost in the middle of your screen. But believe you me, it’s a great reminder. It makes this game way less frustrating when you make a tiny mistake or want to try something. Also, when you accidentally quick save in a situation that leaves you in a sort of soft lock, in the pause menu you always have your three last saves. So, you can roll back further when needed.

A big improvement compared to the first game as well is the speed up & the pause feature. With a simple press of a button, you can slightly speed up the gameplay. Which can be handy to speed up the patrol of a guard you are trying to sneak past. Now, the pause feature is something quite special. With this feature, you can pause the game and plan out a choreography to take down various enemies at once. You can cue up one character double shot while another character sneaks in to give a deadly shot to the third enemy. Once I was able to take out a patrol of five enemies with one pause and let me tell you how amazing it fells when it all goes to plan.

Apart from understanding how your characters work, it’s also quite important to understand your enemies. There are several groups of enemies that each have their unique traits. For example, you have Poncho enemies who don’t react to traps and distractions. And you have long coat enemies who are difficult to take out and need three hits to be taken out. And if you don’t take them out in one time, and they spot you, and they hit you… Well, instead game over.

With a simple right click on an enemy, you can make their view cone appear. As soon as you walk in their view cone, you can get spotted. When moving a character, you need to get out of the view cone before it goes red. Since, as soon as it turns red, an alarm is raised and nearby enemies come to help and track you down. But, you can also “view cone surf” where you sneak from one view cone to the next. Confusing the surrounding enemies can possibly be sneaking away.

Let’s do this again.

In the previous section, I mostly explained how the gameplay works. I only explained some of the more basic mechanics. The whole puzzle aspect of this game and the quick thinking you have to do in this game is quite addictive. While I’m playing through this game on the easiest difficulty setting, I still feel that this game is quite challenging.

I tried to play this game on higher difficulty settings, and it’s too brutal for my tastes. Thankfully, you aren’t punished with too many fewer mechanics or other penalties because you aren’t playing on the highest difficulty setting. The gameplay is still addicting. It’s a prefect example of “easy to play but hard to master”. Just like I said in the previous section, awareness of everything is key in this game. Awareness of where you hide your characters, how many enemies are around, who has which abilities, which opportunities you have to kill or knock out an enemy, blind spots …

Now, in order for this style of game to work, you’ll need a good set of controls. And this game controls amazingly. The controls are fast and responsive and apart from some minor moments I don’t have any problems with them. Something I struggle with sometimes is remembering that certain actions like throwing a torch required me to press an additional button. Or that when I want to retrieve the knife, I don’t have to pick up the dead body.

I rarely use the keyboard shortcuts for my characters to preform actions. But did you also know that you can totally remap them to however you want? It’s mind blowing that this game allows you to do that. It’s a great tool to customize and personalize the game to your liking.

So, the gameplay in this game is a blast. I rarely felt that the game cheated me out. And the quick save and quick load system makes this game a ton more fun. Something I can appreciate as well is how detailed this game is. Visually, this game looks stunning. For the low system specs that this game requires, this game is turning out mighty fine visuals. Also, I haven’t noticed any moments where the frame rate stuttered or went down to unplayable numbers.

Maybe it’s because of my playstyle, but I sometimes wish I took more time to enjoy the visual presentation of this game. The environments, the animations of this game… they look amazing. The run that the citizens do to get away from danger is just beyond funny. It’s a sort of Naruto run and I often have a hard time focusing on the mission when I see them running.

In addition to that, the music of this game is just pure ear candy. It’s very memorable but also a blast to listen outside the game. When I’m writing an article about a game, I usually listen to the soundtrack in the background. This article is no different and whilst listening to the soundtrack I was able to play the missions inside my head.

Add to that, the great sound effects that add to the atmosphere of this game, and you have a top-notch audiovisual design. I don’t have any complaints about them. They help me quite a lot during the game. Especially, they can be great to know if you are spotted or not.

So far, I have mostly been raving about this game. Are there actually things I didn’t like about this game? Well, to be honest, I don’t have a lot of negative things to say. There is one mission I disliked beyond belief, and I was stuck at for quite a long time. But, when I was passed it, I was able to play through this game and continue enjoying it. Later, I returned to that mission, and I was able to beat it more easily because I got more used to some characters.

The only thing I could criticize in this game is that the hint system isn’t flawless. Often times, I had it bug out on me and giving me hints to parts of the mission I had already completed. But, it’s a mechanic you can just let aside.

In conclusion, I personally think that if you enjoyed the original games, find the concepts I have explained in this article interesting, enjoy stealth/tactical gameplay and/or enjoy action-puzzle games… I seriously think that this game is worth checking out. I’d highly recommend this game on PC, since I don’t think you can translate the complex controls on a controller too well.

I have barely any negative things to say about this game, so I think it won’t be a surprise that I boot up this game again after publishing this article. It’s a thrilling ride from start to finish and really tests your skills that you learn through playing this game. The witty banter between the characters or the enemies you can listen in are such a blast or can even give you a hint on how to beat the mission.

And with that said, I think I have said everything that I wanted to say about this game for now. I want to thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed playing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity (3DS) ~ Dat Ending.

PMGTI

Official website

It has been coming. After a long time I finally finished the main story of this game. This game is actually the game that started off my rants here on my blog. I talked about the cuts and adds that this game did. Feel free to read it here. But I’ll address most of it in this article. This review will be a big one? Why? Well, I have a lot to talk about! Plus, this game actually did some things why I hold this game high in my list of best games ever. I thought a lot about special things to do for this review. From me being trapped in a dungeon and that each floor was a part of the game that I wanted to review but no idea really worked out the way how I wanted. So, that’s why I settled down upon a normal style review. I remember till this day pre-ordering this game. I was so excited that there was going to be a 3DS entry. It was a long time since this series saw an entry. The Japanese people got lucky with a WiiWare title that never saw international release. But ChunSoft gave us this game now. Yes, this game is not only made by GameFreak & Nintendo. ChunSoft actually has a great influence in this series. Anyways, let’s look at this game. Is it really worth the praise I give it or is it just that some elements really make me want to play this game? Let’s review! (Oh, and feel free to post a comment about my review and/or your views on this game.)

Paradise.

pmd_gti_ss6Let’s first tackle the biggest thing of this game. The story. In this game you wake up in a forest without knowing that you suddenly turned into a Pokemon. But this time they take things differently. Instead of the obvious thing to join a big rescue team or to become one, the main focus is actually somewhere different. The main focus is on you making a paradise for the Pokémon in Post Town.

And this is already a great improvement in my eyes. The story feels extremely fresh. And I actually really enjoyed the story. The characters were great, the writing is well done and I barely made complaints on the story while playing. There were some close calls of a Deus Ex Machina (for those who don’t know the word, it’s a sudden solution that comes out of nowhere and solves everything.) but lucky for this game, they were avoided.

The only thing is dislike a bit is that they removed the personality test at the start. I actually enjoyed it and never really cheated my way towards the Pokémon I wanted to be. You actually can directly select your Pokémon that you want to be now. This makes the game feel less personal but this short coming has been made up big time by something else.

But, I am not done yet with talking about the story. Where this game wins some big marks is the fact that for the 3rd entry in the game, the ending actually made me tear up once more. The ending, while it’s highly similar then the previous entries, is written in such an amazing way that it manages to to it’s job. I won’t spoil it but for emotional people, this will be a tough one. But that’s not all. The biggest marks are won with the addition of a story after the credits. I was so surprised when I saw that “and now you play as your partner to see how the story concludes.”. This gives the game a bigger reason to keep playing after finishing it.

Downfall

imagesBefore I continue with praising the game, I want to talk about what made this game not that much fun for me. Which elements made me want to avoid this game?

First off, there is DLC! Why? Just, why? Downloading additional dungeons is fun, but asking a small price for them is just silly. You basically download a dungeon with a name and some new textures. As if the extensive list of already available dungeons wasn’t good enough already.

Also, I know it’s meant for the safety of your health but the message: “You had a great adventure today. You should take a rest before you continue to play.” is just silly. I’m bummed out that there isn’t an option to disable this message.

Also, this game doesn’t like you checking the message log. The way to look at the message log is so hidden, it really makes me irritated when I want to check something I missed.

Something I really like is the fact that when you take a weak level Pokémon with you, it will grow to the level of the other Pokémon when you enter a high level dungeon. Take that your Pokémon are all level 30 and you take a level 10 with you for the ride. It goes to level 30 right away. But here comes something extremely annoying. You must go through all the moves the Pokémon can learn with that high level jump. One by one. Yes, one by one. That’s no fun at all. Why couldn’t you just program in a list for it?

Inventory management has also a small issue with it. When you want to take something out of your box, you can only take one item. Unless you first press “R” to input the amount you wish to have. This is an additional step that shouldn’t be there. When you select an item that you have multiple times, you should be able to directly say how much you want of it.

This game makes also one major mistake. One of the biggest flaws in this game is the fact the you only can do one mission each time you set out. And that is such a pain. This really pulls out a lot of the fun of doing multiple missions and trying to survive a dungeon because you need to do another floor.

A nitpicky thing is, and this might just be me, is that the running isn’t endless anymore. After a short while you stop running. And this is really annoying since you need to let go and press the B button again. Also, the running is a tad bit to fast. Running around corners is such an annoying thing in this game.

And this might be just me as well, but I felt like the final three bosses where way to weak and easy. Or I might just have grinded my Pokémon to a pretty high level and/or had a great inventory to beat them.

Before I forget, I want to add this to the bad list. A TM can be used multiple times. I liked the way of the previous entry more where you had to collect certain items to repair it before you could re-use it.

Great.

pokemon-mystery-dungeon-1At first I was really doubting to put this in the bad thing section but then I realized something. You can play as one of your team mates to take a break from the story. Yet, thanks to a box system, you can transfer over items from the companion mode to the main story mode. This gets rid of the annoying being stuck in a hard dungeon with no good items. Yet, it makes the game a bit easier. But it doesn’t get too easy either. You really need to finish requests to get those items.

In addition to that, good items are rather expensive and not always available in the shops. This makes creating a great inventory to finish bosses and/or beat big dungeons that more rewarding.

I touched upon the fact that you can do only one mission at a time. Such a big deal isn’t it really since the rewards you get are sometimes enough for expanding your paradise. The fact that you can upgrade, recolor and put more things and you have space makes the replay value high. Also, in the paradise there is a lot to do. Prize tickets and even two mini-games I know of. And they are extremely fun to do.

The hunger system is gone in this entry. But something else came in it’s place. The so called “V-Wave”. This makes a certain type more stronger and therefor more dangerous. You can change the “V-Wave” from a certain point in the story but I never did. I enjoyed the challenge.

The gameplay is still the same as before. You explore randomized dungeons and you try to get to the top. Using your attacks at corners is still extremely buggy. Speaking about attacks, they made an amazing change that is extremely helpful in this entry. When you press the “L” button you directly get an overview of all your Pokémon’s attacks! And you have to simply press the according button to execute the attack. This saves time since you don’t have to go into the menu to change your attack and you also see how much PP is left.

Also, attacks get stronger over time. The more you use them, the stronger they will get. But pay attention, the attacks of the enemy’ll be stronger then as well. So, if you upgrade tackle to level 2, the power of tackle of the enemies will be level 2 as well.

The dungeons are improved as well. Some dungeons have an “overworld” part where you have to cross a bridge or solve a small puzzle before being able to continue to the next floor. Thanks to this, dungeons are way less boring then in all the previous entries of the series. Inside dungeons there are also shortcuts. But I can’t tell more about them since I hadn’t been able to have the right key for unlocking the door.

Another great improvement is the fact that you can save everywhere you want! The menu system is better but not perfect. The fact that it’s not anymore a simple text box menu but something in the lines of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl where the buttons are on the button screen after a press on the menu button is such a great feature.

Visually this game is a masterpiece. It’s the best I have seen in the whole series. I actually regret not putting the 3D slider to max at certain points. This game really benefits from the 3D. It looks pretty. The rare cut scenes look amazing and are a marvel to look at. It’ll really stick with you how some area’s looked in 3D. And with great visuals comes one of the best animation I have seen in a while. Nothing bad to say about that.

The sound design is well done. It really pulls you inside the game. There are no Pokémon cries in the game but that’s actually a great thing, since this makes me enjoy the amazing soundtrack of the game at it’s full glory. Some tracks in the previous entries really got on my nerves after hearing them multiple times. But not with this game. This game really nailed it.

And I think I’ll leave it here for this review. Skipping the multiplayer and the possibility to find new dungeons around your home, it’s time to make a conclusion for this game.

Conclusion

The bad:

– Attacks at corners don’t work.

– The running is a bit broken.

– One mission at a time.

– The end bosses are a bit too weak.

– DLC.

– “You should rest.”

– Leveling up too fast makes for an irritating move learning “5-minute”

– TM can be used multiple times.

– Inventory management needs some minor tweaks.

– Removal of the personalty test at the start.

The good:

+ Amazing story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Visually amazing.

+ Great animation.

+ Randomized dungeons = high replay value.

+ Overworld parts in the dungeons.

+ Great sound design.

+ Benefits from the 3D.

+ Multiplayer.

+ Companion mode.

+ Sharing inventory makes the game way better.

+ Great controls.

+ Story after the credits.

+ It’s not only dungeons you can do in this game, the paradise opens up so many possible things to take a break from the dungeons.

+ Improved menu’s and combat.

Final words:

This game made some major improvements when you compare them to the previous entries of the series. Some things had to be payed for that, but actually in the long run, the game strong points really make up for it.

The game isn’t less fun, it’s as much fun as the previous entries but for a totally different reason. It still feels rewarding and fun but now because you make an amazing paradise that’s unique to you. Since you can choose a lot.

It really surprises me that this game really expanded on the previous entries so much. You have a lot more to do, to keep track off. And there isn’t only more depth to the game! They addressed issues to make the game more fun to play.

This game is one of the best spin-offs of Pokémon period. And I’m so glad that I finished this game and looked passed the flaws since then you see where this game actually truly shines. And then this game, you don’t want it to be over soon. But the length and replay value will keep you busy for a long while.

So, too long didn’t read version. Is it worth all it’s praise. Yes, if you don’t compare it too much too the previous entries of the series but take it as a new reboot-ish game of the series.

Score: 85/100

Rant #001: Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity (3DS): Cuts and Adds.

PMGTILink to the game’s site.

This isn’t a review, but a rant about something in this game. I played the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series a lot. I played all of them. I was so excited that I even got a 3DS in the hope that there would be a new entry in the series on the 3DS. And finally, we got one. But, now there is a major issue here. I’ll probably address this again in my review but I want to get this out of my system now. On my forum, there were a lot of discussions too, so I’ll add those complaints into this rant.

The adds.

The dungeons are way better now. You have parts outside and where you need to solve puzzles. It gives a unique twist to the game.

Now you can also farm berries. Yes, it takes some time though but it’s a neat addition. The Pokémon Paradise you are building is an amazing fun concept. It really gives the feeling of progression. But wait a minute, this is becoming more like a review instead of a rant. Whoops, my bad. Let’s go ranting.

The cuts

First of all, a big let down is that you can only do 1 mission at a time. Yes, no multiple missions for you. You need to give the request to the Pokémon to open the “Request Gate” and after you are finished, the day ends. I can agree this makes the game a bit more realistic but it really gets annoying because of one thing. The game taunts you with a list of 5 pages long missions. Each page has about 4 missions. And when you finish a mission, the list doesn’t shrink. Oh no, one mission gets added. Oh, the joy of “infinity.” 

pokemon-mystery-dungeon-gates-to-infinity-screenshot-04

I often find myself trying to save by sleeping. But guess what, you can save now everywhere except in the dungeons. But they removed the ability to save while sleeping. For people who got used to the original formula, don’t change up the way how you save, please. I forgot to save twice thanks to this. But this is a minor annoyance.

Nintendo, why did you got rid of the hunger system? It made the game more challenging and now without the hunger system, you can get through dungeons as if it was a breeze. Agreed, the hunger didn’t really bother you in dungeons that much but it gave something to think about when you forgot to buy food.

DLC? Seriously now? 1,5€ per extra dungeon. No thanks, I pass. This is a game where DLC is not really welcome. In my opinion, DLC should be for PC’s & consoles. Not handhelds. Let’s face it, how many credit cards do you have? Not much. But what annoys the crap out of me is the fact that the DLC is present as soon as you buy the game. DLC should come later as a sort of expansion. If this came later like when the game is nearly off store shelves, then I wouldn’t react this way.

This isn’t really a cut but a big annoyance. Which kinds of drugs have the Pokémon taken? They run extremely fast, nearly uncontrollable. And their dialogue boxes are so slow. And here is the best part. You can’t edit the speed of the dialogue boxes AND the running speed is already annoying on the normal speed. May the Lord help those who take fast speed.

Finish

I’m going to leave it here for this rant. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed. I’ll write a review of this game when I find the time and when I’m finished with this game. But for now, I’ll get playing.

I feel odd when playing this game. so many nice new things, yet those cuts really bother my game experience. Maybe I’m judging this game too early. It will be very interesting. See you guys at the next post!