This is a review that I have wanted to write for a long time. It will also likely end up being the least popular opinion I ever express on this blog. I want to dedicate this to my dear high school friend and we're-totally-not-actually-gay-but-maybe-a-little-probably husband, Grant, for inspiring me to replay this shitty gem. Devil's Third is a Wii U exclusive (I don't count the PC port since it's only the online portion and was only made available in Japan) that it universally considered to be one of the worst games ever to see a retail release on the platform. It also happens to be one of my favorite games on the console and probably my absolute favorite action game. Don't get me wrong - the game is straight up garbage. It's the kind of beautiful, testosterone-packed garbage that makes me salivate with irrational glee.
Devil's Third was the brainchild of developer Tomonobu Itagaki of Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden fame and was to be the first game developed by Valhalla Game Studios, a studio formed in 2008 by Itagaki and other former Tecmo employees. Initially beginning life as an Xbox 360 game, Devil's Third went through one development issue after another, at one point being planned as a multiplatform release for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC until THQ backed out. The idea was eventually pitched to Nintendo and, because of their lack of mature, online capable games, they agreed to publish. Originally being envisioned as a trilogy, Devil's Third would unfortunately be pretty much universally slammed by critics, all but ensuring its sequels would never see the light of day. Those of us irrationally enamored by the game's craptasticitude can only hope and pray that, like Shaq Fu, it's infamy will one day allow the shameful game to rise from the ashes and disappoint a new generation of gamers.
The first indication that this game is going to be gloriously awful is its entire premise. You play as Ivan, a former Soviet black ops soldier serving an 850 year sentence in Guantanamo Bay for terrorism but who also secretly works for the US government and therefore has his 2000 square foot prison cell outfitted with a 100" TV, a drum set, massive speakers, a king sized bed, and a stereo system I could never dream of affording. When a mysterious Russo-Japanese ninja terrorist hijacks a satellite and makes every other satellite in orbit explode, disabling every electronic device on Earth except those needed for the game's plot, the American military calls on Ivan to step in and save the world. He does so with a big ass katana, no shirt, and sometimes even a gun or two. There's a pretty big group of American troops to help him with this, but they're really only useful for indicating that there are bad guys around when their heads explode like watermelons. Oh, and there's also a deadly biological weapon, giant mutant creatures that wouldn't be out of place as Resident Evil bosses, nuclear weapons, and ninja. Tons of ninja. You could have a boy in seventh grade write a story, and it would probably be less ridiculous than Devil's Third. And that's exactly why I love this game so much.
This is the part where I would normally talk about the game's sound design. I say normally because I can only halfway do that now since I don't really remember any music from the game. That's not to say that there's no music; I was just so wrapped up in the god awful story and cheese-fest action that I was paying no attention and don't remember if there was or not. What I do remember is the voice acting. It's TERRIBLE, and I mean that in the best way. It's like a high school play - the acting is ALMOST good, but....it's just not. Ivan's voice is the worst about it; rather than sounding like a real Russian accent, it sounds like an American trying to sound like a stereotypical Russian. Like, think Japanese characters in American cartoons in the 1940s and 1950s. That kind of stereotypical accent that doesn't actually sound anything like it's supposed to. I'm not sure if I'd say it's offensive, but it's just bad, which just adds to the B-movie cheese factor.
The visuals show its Xbox 360 roots. By that, I mean that this game could probably run on an Xbox 360 without being especially taxing on the hardware. That's not to say that the game looks bad, but it doesn't use the Wii U's potential. I know that the Wii U isn't exactly a graphical powerhouse by 2015 standards, but even by Wii U standards, Devil's Third doesn't really look particularly impressive. This is especially evident when you kill an enemy with a shotgun or sniper rifle - they explode. Like, the shotgun kind of makes sense under certain circumstances - blasting a guy point blank, I could see - but like, if I shoot a guy in the torso with a sniper rifle from 30 yards away, his entire torso probably isn't going to explode into four or five chunks. They aren't even realistic-ish looking chunks. They're just like generic meat chunks. And when you shoot someone in the head, the head explodes and this thick, goopy fountain of blood spews from the neck (although I think that adds to the ridiculous atmosphere of the game).
So let me explain why I love this game so much because, objectively, it really is a horrible game. If you're familiar with Steven Segal and his movies, imagine that but as a video game. That's Devil's Third. Steven Segal's movies are the most bullshit stupid insults to cinema, but they're so addicting for mindless action. He's a horrible actor, the stories are all complete nonsense, and the fight scenes are INSANELY over the top....and that's exactly what makes them addicting. The same is true of Devil's Third. It's awful but in the best possible way. If you only like compelling stories or rational combat scenes, then this probably isn't for you, but if you're the kind of person who likes explosion and setting shit on fire, then you might get some mindless enjoyment out of Devil's Third. The gameplay is really at the heart of what's enjoyable here; a game can be ridiculous and still be a pain in the ass to play. Devil's Third, while suffering from some occasional slow down, plays really well. It just sucks in every other regard.
Devil's Third, despite being (accurately) dubbed "Devil's Turd" by the internet, holds a spot near and dear to my heart. Sure, part of that is because I adore the Wii U in general, and it's cool to know that I have an extremely rare game, but it's a total guilty pleasure. It's objectively a shitstorm in pretty much every respect, but DAMN is it fun in a mindless violence kind of way. Sprinting across a battlefield with no shirt and killing a guy with a sword while he's shooting at you with a machine gun? AWESOME. It's definitely earned it's negative reputation, but like Sharknado and Tremors, that's exactly why it's awesome. If I were rating this game based exclusively on my personal enjoyment, I'd give it a 5 out of 5 in a heartbeat. Since I do try to be fair and objective (usually), however, I can't rate this one any higher than a 2.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.