Title: Devil’s Third
Platform: Wii U
Developer: Valhalla Game Studios
Release date: Out now
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Devil’s Third was the first game from Tomonobu Itagaki and his newly formed studio, Valhalla Game Studios, shortly after his departure from Tecmo in June 2008. Itagaki and Tecmo cut all ties mere days after the release of Ninja Gaiden 2. The game was first announced in 2010 as a PS3/Xbox 360 title, which was to be published by the now defunct THQ. Once the former publisher closed its doors in 2013, the game’s rights were given back to Valhalla Game Studios. Itagaki and his team members spent a few years trying to find a new home for Devil’s Third. In a surprise coup, Nintendo revealed that Itagaki’s new game was now an exclusive Wii U game. After a few years in development hell, Devil’s Third finally released in the UK in August 2015, while North American players got their hands on the game in December of the same year.
Devil’s Third takes place in a parallel world where a former Soviet force soldier, Ivan, has gone rogue and is taking down a terrorist group. Said group have destroyed the world’s satellites through the Kessler Syndrome, making electronic equipment useless due to EMPs, reducing combat to the old-fashioned low-tech way: sending ground forces to war.
Devil’s Third is a standard third person action game with a small twist; there’s melee. Although, unlike most third person shooters, when using a firearm, the game switches to the first person perspective, which is a nice touch. Being an Itagaki game, Devil’s Third is primarily focused on melee combat. Ivan can pick up different melee weapons found throughout the game such as axes, katanas, wrenches, broken pipes, among others. Once you’re at the end of your combo, you can also finish your enemies with gruesome finishers, reminiscent of Ninja Gaiden II. Additionally, successfully pulling off combos will fill up a power meter which, once activated, will light Ivan’s body tattoos and supposably increase the protagonist’s attack power. I say supposedly because every time I used it, it didn’t seem to do any additional damage. Bummer.
Despite the awesome reasons to use melee (axes and katanas!), the game can be easily played with guns from beginning to end. Although certain fights against crazy quick ninjas will prove awkward, a few well placed headshots will make short work of them. Much like the variety of melee weapons, Devil’s Third has a decent variety of firearms ranging from the standard AK-47- to the awesome rocket launcher, and no shooter is complete without a handful of grenades. You can also try to pull flashy kills by sliding, which comes in useful when trying to go under a closing door.
Furthermore, the game can easily be played with either the Pro Controller or the Wii U Gamepad. Although I will admit it felt easier to play it with the Pro Controller thanks to the shoulder button placement, I probably played half of the game using the Wii U Gamepad and didn’t find any major issues.
The story campaign is spread across nine chapters, all similar in terms of your objectives. Go from point A to point B and kill everything in sight. Chapters will end after a challenging boss fight with various goons from the terrorist group. I liked the boss variety, as each of them required a different strategy to take down. Once you’re done with the game, you can tackle an Attack Score Mode or Multiplayer.
In order to extend gamer’s fun, the devs added multiplayer. It’s basically a military-like clan affair where you first begin as a trainee and play around with a wide array of weapons. Much like the standard shooter multiplayer, you can unlock additional weapons with the in-game currency. Once training is complete, you can join a faction and get into the thick of things. There are two choices: turf battles or casual 16-player battles. Unfortunately, those looking to practice with the 10 multiplayer modes included out of the box will be disappointed, as there are no options for offline play (against bots or local co-op). In order to succeed, players will need to utilize everything at their disposal in order to survive. I found it okay, but unfortunately, the camera for online multiplayer is somehow a bit more clunky than during story mode. I often found myself dying from off-screen attacks. Additionally, I couldn’t find matches online, so the multiplayer component longevity is worrisome.
For a game that was originally announced in 2010 and stuck in “development hell” for so long, the game looks fine. It has surely has gone through quite a few changes, especially Ivan, as the initial design had spiked dark hair and a huge X scar on his face. However, it clearly looks like a late PS3/Xbox 360 game, since the environments are pretty bland and generic. Audio-wise, the character dialogue is fine. Nothing too over the top or boring. Voiceover actor deliver their lines on point, but won’t obviously win any awards for the crazy story. The game’s soundtrack is as generic and forgettable as most third person action game; if someone played the game’s soundtrack in my presence, I wouldn’t recognize it. It’s also overshadowed by your weapons firing, explosive headshots and enemies dying.
You know, before I volunteered to provide a review for this game, I wanted to take a bit of time to reflect on it. It’s gotten so much hate, and with Nintendo doing little to no marketing for it, I was puzzled at how it turned out. Personally, I don’t understand where the hate is coming from. Sure, being a huge Itagaki fan, it’s not his best work – by far. But I’ll say this: despite its shortcomings, Devil’s Third is a decent action game hybrid, which is sure to provide adult gamers something bloody to chew on. The first person shooting is very well done, melee combat feels like a step down from Ninja Gaiden, and the story is a mess, but this is the kind of game where you turn off your brain and play. Don’t sleep on this one.
- Enjoyable action game
- Great use of 1st and 3rd person perspective
- Plays well with the Wii U Gamepad
- Cool predictable plot twist
- Not Itagaki’s best work
- Melee combat is mediocre at best
Devil’s Third is rated M for Mature. Remember that this is from the same guy who brought you the first two games of the Ninja Gaiden rebirth in 2004 and 2008: two games filled with blood and dismemberment. Do you expect him to create a family oriented game?