Review: Devil’s Third (Wii U)

Like a very nice drunk person.

By Anthony Pershkin. Posted 09/24/2015 09:00 4 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Fast-paced arcade-style gameplay; satisfying difficulty; varied multiplayer modes
Poison Mushroom for...
Performance issues; forgettable story; bland visuals

When Tomonobu Itagaki, a famed video game developer responsible for the Ninja Gaiden reboot, left Tecmo in 2008 he did not wait long before forming his new team, Valhalla Game Studios. Its first game, Devil’s Third, had a very long and painful development cycle full of exciting adventures like companies going bankrupt and engines being changed several times. And yet, the game made it to the shelves despite being pretty much destined to die on the way here. The end result is quite surprising, as it is not exactly the Frankenstein’s monster many people expected this game to be.

Devil’s Third is a bit of departure for Itagaki, as it plays more like a cover-based shooter rather than his typical character action games. Both Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden II, Itagaki’s previous works, were very good at balancing melee combat with occasional shooting segments. Devil’s Third works in the same vein, only the focus has been shifted toward gunplay. At its core, the game functions as a cover-based shooter, but it does not mean getting close and personal with a variety of melee weapons is completely out of the question. With a higher risk comes a high reward. The players who engage in melee fights get rewarded with the main character’s rage mode, which upgrades your damage output for a little while and also slows down time on each kill to create some really cool looking action moments. The variety of different enemy types is supposed to keep the player from preferring one play style over the other. Devil’s Third is all about mixing it up under pressure.

While how the game works sounds very solid, how it plays and feels is far from perfect. The gameplay itself feels addictively fun, like a very fast arcade action game, which rewards players with high skill and fast reflexes. On the other hand, the game’s performance just can’t quite keep it up with its ambitions. Jumping from one game engine to another, while changing platforms, sure did a number on the overall feel of the game. The frame rate is very uneven, dropping not only during some busy action scenes, but during some cutscenes as well. (However, I noticed that the frame rate becomes a lot better after the first very rough hour of the game.) The other problem with the gameplay is more mechanics-based, as aiming in the first-person mode feels somewhat loose and unresponsive. Combine that with a choppy frame rate and you can get annoyed quite easily.

The single player campaign is not terribly long, but it did give me a very good challenge unlike any other recent games I played. Itagaki knows how to keep a player on his toes. Devil’s Third requires you to constantly move around from cover to cover, while occasionally participating in short sword fights. Although the enemy types are varied enough, the bosses are very bare-bones in how you approach them, so don’t expect any particularly memorable boss fights. The game is quite aggressive with its difficulty, but that is to be expected from an Itagaki game.

Devil’s Third tells a tale not exactly worth telling. While you may get an occasional chuckle from some unintentionally stupid moments, the story itself is as boring and dry as any Steven Seagal movie ever made. The only diamond in the rough here is the game’s protagonist, Ivan, who turned out to be a reasonably charming action hero. The visuals are also stuck in the boring department, as the majority of the game looks exactly like some gray military shooter from 2008. Later levels do actually look quite nice and colorful, but first you’ll have to visit many dark and boring corridors to get there.

Strangely enough, the multiplayer actually feels like the main attraction here, as it introduces much more variety and polish than the single player campaign (although, judging by some Devil’s Third trailers, the game always had this kind of focus). The multiplayer feels very solid and has a ton of modes and customization options. Devil’s Third is obviously aiming to be the best next Call of Duty-killer, and while it ultimately fails at reaching that goal, it provides a very fun competitive game for Wii U owners. All of the crazy action moves you can do in the single player are possible here, resulting in some fast and creative online battles. The only significant problem I’ve encountered is very uneven netcode and lack of players online. Perhaps the latter problem will be fixed when the game comes out in North America.

Devil’s Third is not a complete disaster, but the troubled development process left us with a phantom of what this game truly was supposed to be. With that being said, I’ve had a lot of fun with what we got. Devil’s Third is a rough experience with a lot of faults, but yet fun enough for a couple of sittings. This sword is unpolished, but it gets the job done.

4 Responses to “Review: Devil’s Third (Wii U)”

  • 459 points
    Drew Ciccotelli says...

    You’ve sold me. I had high hopes for this one but the past few months have shown nothing but negative press for this game and I was beginning to think I was alone in my desire for this one. Ive been playing this game Rygar Battle for Argus the past week and it seems like another game that despite somewhat lackluster reception is turning out to be time well spent.

  • 0 points

    Too bad it’s getting bad reviews, it looked promising. Perhaps when the price drops I’ll get it anyway.

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