Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.Desperados III is probably the best real-time tactics game I’ve played. Previously, that title was held by developer Mimimi Games’s previous creation, Shadow Tactics: Blades Of The Shogun, which was very nearly as excellent. But with Desperados III, Mimimi elevated their Commandos-style formula to near-perfection.
If you played Shadow Tactics, you’ll know what to expect here. Set in a wonderfully realised wild west, Desperados III tasks players with carefully guiding a small roster of characters, each with particular skillsets, through missions that are as ingeniously crafted as they are violent and bloody. Each mission is broken down into a series of tense puzzles that reward consideration and timing, while also invariably offering many different paths to success. There are lots of times when you’re forced to stop and consider the next daunting confluence of guard viewcones and patrol paths, scratching your chin and trying to figure out how on earth to Catherine-Zeta-Jones your way through this particular room of lasers. It’s worth it though. the only thing better than seeing a plan come together is seeing a really fucking complex plan come together.
By far my favourite thing about the game, though – and the greatest improvement upon Shadow Tactics – occurs as a reward for completing each mission. Before presenting you with your post-mission stats screen, the game replays your exploits as a timelapse on a gorgeous 2D representation of the map you just carved your way through, noting the time and place of every kill, knockout, and noteworthy event. It’s such a wonderful touch, and a seriously potent incentive for finishing every mission.