Selling My Soul to the Devil
Apparently I’m extremely lucky.
I had initially blown off Devil’s Third, but decided to see if I could get a cheap used copy in late December, which is when I discovered the over-inflated prices on Amazon and eBay.
Being cheap and stubborn, I kept checking to see if any copies were in stock at Gamestops in the Chicago area. For a few days they flickered in and out of stock at various stores, but they were usually 30-40 miles away. And in addition to being cheap and stubborn, I can also be kind of lazy.
On New Year’s Eve, I finally struck gold. A Gamestop two miles from my house had a copy. I promptly drove over there… and found the store to be closed because it was 7 o’clock on New Year’s Eve.
No surprise there, but undeterred I vowed to stay vaguely sober through the night and wake up early and get there when the store opened to pick up a copy, with my amused and somewhat bewildered girlfriend in tow.
We got there about 10 minutes before opening, and sat in the car waiting for the store to open. I was in no rush, because really, who else in their right mind is going to show up at a Gamestop at opening on New Year’s Day for a terrible Wii U game?
Well, as soon as the doors open, this other guy comes sprinting toward the door from the other side of the parking lot. Apparently he had the same idea I had, and upon beating me into the store, he immediately asks the cashier for a copy of Devil’s Third.
Luckily, the store (somehow) had a second unsealed copy I was able to purchase. Not ideal, but better than paying $100 on eBay. As I was checking out, the store received a call from a third guy also asking about the copy of Devil’s Third he saw was in-stock there.
The cashier was thoroughly freaked out that so many people were interested in this game he had never even heard of before on what should have been a slow holiday, and I high-tailed it out of there to see if I had just blown $60 on the worst game of 2015.
Giving the Devil His DueSo how is Devil’s Third?
After spending quite a few hours with the single player and multiplayer, I can honestly say that it’s not as bad as you’ve heard.
The melee combat is kind of repetitive. It’s nowhere near as good as what Itagaki and his team accomplished with the Ninja Gaiden games, but it’s competent. The shooting is a mix of Gears of War-style cover and first-person shooting mechanics that feel like Call of Duty made on a shoestring budget. Except when you shoot at enemies, they don’t just fall down. A better description would be that whether you use a sword, handgun, or rocket launcher, enemies get exploded to death. A poor shot from a handgun can cause an enemy’s arm to go flying into the other side of the room. It’s kind of like a budget shooter directed by Quentin Tarantino.
But that’s really the selling point of Devil’s Third. What it lacks in substance it makes up for with style, and this silly game has a lot of style. For some reason you play as Ivan, an angry Russian covered in Japanese kanji tattoos who helps out the United States government because… well I’m not sure. Because they let him play drums underneath Guantanamo Bay I guess?
Yeah, it’s a dumb game, and it was rightfully shut out of any Best Games of 2015 list out there, but I’m having fun with it, and I’d say the 3/10 reviews are unfair. If you really get into the mulitplayer mode, there’s actually just as much content here as in big-budget shooters like Call of Duty, though unfortunately much of the content requires a ton of grinding or real money to access. Maybe Devil’s Third will get a warmer reception from gamers when the free PC version is released later this year. At least Nintendo can’t sweep its existence under the rug then.
But ultimately Nintendo shouldn’t be ashamed of Devil’s Third. It’s no masterpiece. It’s not even close to being the best action game on Wii U, a system that’s seen little third-party support and is on death’s door. But it is a fun, stupid romp through the mind of a wonderful game designer that deserves more attention than it’s getting. If only Nintendo would release more copies to the public.