Not even the devil wants this one.
I’ve played some bad games – Naughty Bear, for example. I’ve enjoyed some games with terrible elements. I’ve played terribly difficult games and games that are difficult because they’re terrible. None have left me as disappointed and angry as Devil’s Third. Directed by Tomonobu Itagaki (the mastermind behind Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) and developed by Valhalla Game Studios, Devil’s Third is a failed culmination of genre blending. Marketed as a game that will redefine close-combat mechanics in a shooter, Devil’s Third makes extremely bold claims that fall laughably short.
So what is Devil’s Third? In short, it is a third person hack-and-slash action game that incorporates first person shooting (think any Tom Clancy game or Metal Gear Solid aiming). Released exclusively for the Wii U, Devil’s Third offers a moderate length story mode and a multiplayer mode, as well as a score attack mode. The plot of Devil’s Third follows Ivan, an inmate with connections in the American government. After a terrorist attack simultaneously detonated a majority of satellites orbiting earth, the world suffered a black out known as the Kessler syndrome. Ivan is sent to eliminate those responsible – members of the School of Democracy (or SoD), with which Ivan once served.
Reading what I just wrote, Devil’s Third sounds like it has a fairly interesting narrative. Unfortunately, the execution of the game is both extraordinarily over-the-top and too serious for its own good. The violence in Devil’s Third rightly earns the game one of the few mature ratings on the Wii U. It is exploitatively graphic and mind-numbingly dumb. I could shoot a soldier in the foot, and his head would fly off. I could shoot his head, and his arm would detach. The shooting mechanics barely worked; by hitting ZL, you can zoom into a first person mode where you can wield a very sensitive firearm or rifle. The game auto-aims when you first zoom, and that’s the only time you can hit your targets. If they duck or you bump the controller, re-aiming is a pain – and you’ve already taken too much damage from other enemies. Melee combat isn’t much better, as even the most basic of enemies attack quicker than you, and, unless they are all ready for hand-to-hand combat, you’ll be shot to death.
Even the boss fights, a place where even crappy games can shine, are monotonous and ridiculous. I don’t even want to count how many times I fell to the third boss, Saha, in his awful hand-to-hand battle. The worst part was that every time I loaded the fight, he would already be attacking me – before my game was playable. What’s worse is that each fight is structured the same. Little variation occurs outside of deciding how to approach the fight.
Oh, and the writing in Devil’s Third is beyond description. If I had to choose a way to describe it, I would say it felt like a child wrote the script. Characters say things that don’t really make sense or that trained operatives probably wouldn’t say. For example, the first boss shouts, “Do you know what happens to those who stick their head up? Die motherfucker!” What? And the way the captain and soldiers of the military group accompanying Ivan speak is laughably bad and poor representation of military discipline.
Itagaki has responded to the already enormous amount of negative reviews by saying that most reviewers who were given a code didn’t have a chance to experience the multiplayer the way they should. The idea, he said, was for the multiplayer to be enjoyed by a group of people. Well, I don’t know many people who own a Wii U, and there weren’t many people playing the multiplayer. Basically, the multiplayer takes the same functions of the story mode and incorporates them into online play. There are absolutely zero new concepts to the multiplayer genre, and the gameplay is not great. I’ll link a video, so you can judge for yourself.
Even if I could get over the childish writing and bad mechanics, technical issues plagued Devil’s Third worse than any other game I’ve owned on the Wii U. I suppose it could be the hardware limitations of the Wii U itself, as Devil’s Third was originally supposed to be an Xbox 360, PS3, and PC title. Far too often throughout each of the levels, the game would bog down and fall into a choppy mess. The game often felt like an old Dynasty Warriors game that couldn’t handle having hundreds of troops on screen (particularly of the PS2 era). I could blame the Wii U, as I already stated, but I choose not to. Why? Because I know the Wii U can handle the monster of a game that Xenoblade Chronicles X was without any hard pressing issues, especially not one that involves frame rates. Slow rendering objects also tarnished Devil’s Third; each time I raised my pistol, rifle, or shotgun to blast away a foe, the game needed dozens of seconds to render. Remember Rage? This was just like that.
Now, I know I’ve totally annihilated this game. To offer a glimmer of positive energy, I will say that Devil’s Third can be extremely fun. Once you get the hang of the poor shooting mechanics, blasting through waves of enemies is actually fairly enjoyable. And the quick play through of about ten hours actually helps the experience in this instance. If I could remove the poorly executed boss battles from the story mode, Devil’s Third could have been a passable, albeit paltry, game. And while the multiplayer doesn’t offer anything new and isn’t overly populated, it can be fun for additional hours of gameplay. Your best bet is to wait for the game to fall in price before picking it up.