Devil’s Third is a high-octane action game from the mind of Tomonobu Itagaki (the man responsible for the wonderful Ninja Gaiden reboot). It’s insane, violent and kinda crappy. Mixing first-person shooter mechanics with the hack-and-slash gameplay of the Ninja Gaiden series was always going to prove tricky, but Itagaki pushed on regardless.
The game received numerous delays and finally released on the Wii U a couple of years after its initial promised release date for the Xbox 360 and PS3. During this time, Devil’s Third went through a number of different graphics engines and changes behind the scenes. It shows. There are bright ideas in Devil’s Third, but they are hidden underneath a mediocre delivery.
First things first: Devil’s Third is not a pretty game. People claiming the game to look like a poor PS2 product are grossly exaggerating however. It looks like it came straight out of the 360, PS3 earlier days. Textures are rather poor, explosions are empty and often the stage design is rather bland. The lighting however, isn’t that bad, and Ivan himself is sharp, detailed and well animated. It’s a shame the rest of the characters and environments didn’t see the same level of effort put into them. There are some areas and moments however, that look much nicer than others. This suggests an overall lack of polish.
Devil’s Third spits and stutters, giving the feeling of an unfinished title. Character design is a mixed bag. Bosses look detailed at first, but then they move or act without much guile. Enemies range from your bog-standard military grunt to bizarre looking zombie things that are more funny than disturbing. Just as with the graphics and design, the sound needed a little more polish. The soundtrack is loud and exciting, yes, but forgettable. Voice-acting is poor throughout. There is an audible fuzz in the recording, which doesn’t help the already stale voice-acting.
Combat however, is largely fun. Close-quarters combat in particular, is satisfying. Sprinting towards your enemy with one of the many deadly weapons available to use feels like it should. Slicing an enemy in half with your katana feels just right, as too does smashing their head in with a huge hammer. Often, I opted for close-quarters options, but there are many times when using guns is your only viable option. Guns aren’t terrible, but Call of Duty this isn’t. Guns don’t have the kick-back you’d want them to give, but nonetheless it is satisfying seeing your enemy explode in a stream of blood and gore.
The variety of enemy is quite nice, too. You’ll be learning how to deal with a whole host of bad guys, always resulting in bucket-loads of blood and guts. However, it isn’t easy to deal with all the enemies. Devil’s Third is a hard game. You’ll often find yourself swarmed by dozens of enemies, with bullets flying everywhere. You have people helping, but they’re pretty useless and often wait for you to deal with everything before moving ahead (that’s what you get for being such a badass, Ivan). Some enemies, too, soak in your bullets, often depleting your ammo supplies, but if you get too close to them, they chainsaw you in half, which is nice. The trouble is, you’ll want to finish the game, you’ll happily shoot, slice and bash your way through the hordes of bad guys; because you’ll be having a blast.
It doesn’t matter that the game is dated, unpolished and at times infuriating. The mixture of first-person shooter with third-person hack-and-slash works better than it should. It’s fast-paced, bonkers, violent gameplay can be a joy. The plot’s joyous too, as it is hilariously bad. Devil’s Third is like all those 80s action movies we love to hate. It might not be the most accomplished, but boy is it fun.
Online multiplayer, too, is fun. However, online play is closing down come December this year, so get in there while you can because it’s clever, exciting and a whole lot of fun. That is, if you can find anyone online. I constantly tried to play online, but all too often I found that the game simply didn’t have enough people playing to take advantage of the bevy of modes and smart gameplay that puts a lot of other action games to shame. Oh well.
Devil’s Third is pretty rubbish by all accounts, but I couldn’t help enjoying the game. The combination of first-person shooting with third-person hack-and-slash works well. Despite everything going against this game, you should have a blast.