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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Devil's Third.

Transcript Edit

Well I hope we all had some nice holidays. I didn't, because I spent part of them playing Devil's Third, at least I think I did. I also locked myself in a bathroom and ate an entire pound of brandy butter, so it's possible I hallucinated it. It's one of those games I have difficulty believing was made as part of somebody's conscious decisions. It seems like the sort of thing that is spontaneously generated when enough shitty games rub together, like how the brewing process spontaneously generates Marmite.

Anyway, it's a Wii U exclusive, which I'm not sure is the right word to use; it implies that this was something so enticing that Nintendo wanted it all to itself, when one suspects it was more of a "letting an orphaned puppy in out of the rain and letting it chuck up all over the half-rug" scenario. One suspects the only reason it's on the WiiU is because it's too last-gen to hack it on any other console. It's certainly not a natural fit for the Wii audience, since it's sweary and violent and probably won't get any of its characters into Smash Bros. I know I've been wrong before about that, but this time it's not about tone, it's about sucking shit harder than a colonic irrigation.

The quickest possible description for it would be "poor man's Metal Gear Solid". And I mean really poor. Like the kind of Metal Gear Solid that was brewed from ketchup packets in a prison toilet. You know how Hideo Kojima's approach to including real-world politics and history in his games is to read the first line of the Wikipedia page and then get bored and set a whale on fire? Devil's Third somehow does even less! It seems to have gotten its understanding of the world from what could be barked at it through the door hatch as it was passed its morning bowl of gruel.

How's this for let's-charitably-call-it "misguided"? The main character is an inmate in Guantanamo Bay, which in this reality is an underground prison by way of Beyond Thunderdome populated exclusively by white American Metallica enthusiasts. The protagonist is a stock musclebound stoic called Ivan; who's Russian, because of course he is; who is enlisted by the American military after a terrorist group sets off an atmospheric EMP blast that shorts out all the world's electrics, except for all the lights, and basically everything else. But it throws the entire world into chaos, no really! We'd be happy to show you some of that chaos, but there's just no time! There's an inexplicably never-ending supply of terrorists that need murdering!

The terrorists are part of an organization called - seriously? - SOD. Ivan himself was once a SOD, but switched sides, having made it through training and induction without realizing that terrorist groups kill people. I guess he was sick that day. He must slaughter his way through a parade of former comrades, including the biggest SODs of all, the boss fights with poorly-explained superpowers.

Someone clearly put a lot of thought into the backstory of these lads and Ivan's prior relationship with them, but in their frothing excitement, absentmindedly forgot to actually tell us most of it. Some of the loading screens try to pick up the slack, though. "Did you know that Pancake Dave gets his powers from the legendary martial art named Raymond Strawberry-trousers?" Thank you for letting me know, Loading Screen, but since I killed Pancake Dave three missions ago, so I'm not sure why you've brought it up.

Anyway, I should probably tell you what genre of game Devil's Third is. Well, you can't pin it down as simply as that, and it drunkenly meanders between several different rooms of the gameplay house like it just got in from a bender and can't remember where it left its kebab. It's a hack-and-slash-shooter-military-horror-character-drama-bad-fashion-sense simulator, making the classic mistake that a bit of everything creates some kind of sumptuous buffet. When here in the real world, one does not put Kola Kubes, live bait, and mini Babybels in the same pick-and-mix bag.

Clearly not enough of us gave our lives in the trenches of Ride to Hell: Retribution for everyone to learn that a brawler and a shooter don't get along in the same space. Both sides of the conflict swiftly discover that attempting to sprint across open ground screaming, with sword upraised, isn't doing much more than letting armed enemies use your jiggling uvula for target practice. One might reasonably ask why you would ever not use a gun, when the auto-target snaps like a hungry shark as long as you aim roughly at the suburb your enemy is located in. The game does have big tough melee dudes that can soak up a lot of bullets, and I have fond memories of standing on top of things they couldn't climb, my gunshots forming the gay ribbons of my throbbing maypole as they danced joyously around, impotently menacing the walls of my unmoving plinth.

Incidentally, you can climb up some of the walls in Devil's Third, but not all of them, and the best way to figure out which is which is to kidnap one of the developers and hold a gun to their head. Failing that, there's only the scientific method of hurling yourself at every wall you come across, like you have fundamentally failed to grasp the concept of a glory hole.

But I digress. Why not just use guns, when you can mow down an entire column of advancing sword-wielding enemies before they can even begin to regret their choice of villainous specialization? Well, for one thing, ammo's hard to get. Not that it's uncommon, it's lying around all over the fucking place, it's just hard to get, because the collision physics are so wonky you have to do a little Mexican Hat Dance around it before the game wakes up and registers you're trying to pick it up.

And the other thing is that only melee attacks increase your power gauge, which lets you activate your "Rage of the Gods" mode, which presumably, in some way, helps. It doesn't seem to increase your survival chances if you get caught in a brisk shower of enemy lead, so I'm guessing it ups your damage a bit. Which I might have appreciated if most enemies didn't die in one quick volley to the head region (what a bunch of pussies), and also if the game had better AI than a Tamagotchi on low battery mode. The NPCs are still mastering the difference between "empty space" and "large, immovable, heavy objects".

So the gameplay in Devil's Turd feels like space filler; a linear string of combat arenas where the enemies seem to have been placed with all the planning and careful thought with which a custard pie is placed in the vicinity of somebody's face, never evolving because health regenerates and the best weapons are available from the word 'go', so all you can do is slop around for five hours like a fat prick in second-hand bath water. But I think what ultimately condemns Devil's Turd- I said it again in case you missed that incredibly hilarious joke the first time - is that it's complete nonsense!

First you're some Duke Nukem-esque lone hero in sunglasses, and only missing the singlet 'cause it burst off you in your last flexing session, then suddenly the game is pretending to be a modern military shooter and you're in a unit of American soldiers you're apparently supposed to care about, but whose members come and go like the Megadeth lineup. Then mutant monsters show up for a bit and things turn Resident Evil-y, before the soldiers all piss off and the game turns into a World War II shooter for like five minutes before the monsters show up again... "All over the place" doesn't do it justice. That implies there was any one place for it to be all over. This is the bukkake shoot that got cut short after the participants drowned!

Addenda Edit

  • A traitor to the free world: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • And there was something very patronising about the way Ivan never killed female bosses; a true feminist would have ripped their guts out as well
  • Now looking forward to reviewing non-Wii U games at some point
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata


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