Devil's Third is a third-person action game for the Wii U developed by Valhalla Game Studios. The game is the brainchild of Tomonobu Itagaki, the outspoken director of franchises such as Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden. The game released on August 4th, 2015 in Japan, August 28th in Europe, and December 11th in North America.
Players take the role of a lone wolf special operations soldier known as "Ivan". The setting of the game takes place after a catastrophic event called the ""Kessler Effect" has come to pass, stripping the world of satellite communication and causing changes in both greater civilization and warfare in order to adapt to the technological regression.
Devil's Third is a unique experience among action games as it is a Third-Person Shooter, a Beat 'em Up, and a Hack and Slash game all in the same package. Ivan is able to use firearms, bladed weapons, and his fists to dispatch enemies in a seamless frenzy of violence. The game includes both a single player campaign and a multiplayer mode, complete with a custom map editor.
Following a long troubled production that took the title from an Xbox 360 exclusive, to a multiplatform game, and finally to a Nintendo exclusive, the game received mixed reception from critics and players alike upon its release. Reception was particularly negative in the West, with reviews noting several issues such as mediocre graphics, inconsistent framerate, poor controls, and manipulative use of microtransactions in online play. This wasn't aided by Nintendo of America's reluctance to publish the game in that region due to its (lack of) quality, with the title being removed from the American eShop's "Coming Soon" section and its absence at E3 2015. However, backlash eventually pushed them to publish the title, albeit in limited quantities.note Shortly after the game's release, it was announced that the multiplayer servers would be shut down in all regions at the end of 2016, due to poor sales.
The game's online multiplayer mode was released on PC in Japan as the standalone Devil's Third Online in June 2016, with new features such as voice chat, but this was also shut down in March 2017. However, the multiplayer mode received a spiritual successor in the form of the free-to-play game RockShot (developed by the same studio), released in June 2018... only to have its own servers shut down a few months later.
Devil's Third contains examples of the following tropes:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Ivan's sword is capable of cutting foes clean through, regardless of how much muscle or bone structure is in the way...
- Applied Phlebotinum: One mission centers around rescuing a Japanese scientist being held by SOD who has developed a new metal called "Rhenium X." Starting with this mission onward, enemy soldiers with shields have said shields made out of Rhenium X, and the jeep you drive after this mission is also made out of this metal.
- Artifact Title: Calling the game "Devil's Third" made much more sense when there were supposed to be three different playable characters.
- Bad Boss: Ludmila activates a poison gas trap near the end to kill Ivan and the Navy SEAL team with him, but also kills off the rest of her team. Ivan calls her out on sacrificing her troops. She then quotes Hitler to justify herself.
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: Bob, the leader of the U.S. special forces Mauve Shirt soldiers that help Ivan out throughout the game.
- Bald of Awesome: Ivan's got a clean-shaven head.
- Chekhov's Gun: Right before Bob and Ivan part ways, the former gives the latter a Colt Peacemaker, its owner saying it was a good luck charm but that the latter needs it more now. Ivan uses it at the ending to shoot Ludmila in the chest after she shoots C4.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Grundlha Saha yells at Ivan for using guns like a common soldier.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: SOD is led by a Russian general of Japanese descent who appears culturally Japanese-American, and its officers include a Latino-American cowboy, an African man who admires Gurkha culture and has a British accent, a woman who looks like Amy Winehouse and adopts Japanese cultural affects, and two Eastern European blonde women. In fact the gender ratio of the group's leadership is an even 50/50 split. Most of the basic mooks are men, though one class of Elite Mooks is entirely female.
- Eye Scream: Ivan allows Jane Doe to live, but he cuts out her eyes first.
- Genre-Busting: Devil's Third integrates elements of Hack and Slash (finding its roots in Itagaki's work on Ninja Gaiden), Beat 'em Up (owing to Dead or Alive), and Third-Person Shooter gameplay (plus aiming snaps the focus into a first-person mode, very similar to the "Aim Down Sights" function of many modern First-Person Shooter games).
- Giant Mook/Heavily Armored Mook: Large enemies wearing a heavy metal suit of what looks like Powered Armor fulfill this role. They can soak a lot of damage and fight with either heavy weapons (most commonly miniguns) or heavy two-handed battleaxes.
- Good-Looking Privates: Major Stella Meynard of the U.S. Air Force is quite the looker.
- Gorn: Very similar to the presentation in Ninja Gaiden (Xbox series). Using your sword eviscerates your enemies every which way with liberal sprays of blood.
- Guns Akimbo: Big Mouse uses two revolvers, though he prefers running up to Ivan and kicking the hell out of him.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: A lot of katana kills end with Ivan slicing his opponent in twain.
- Handicapped Badass: Ivan has one eye gone and his other does not look that good either.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Bob and the rest of Delta Team opt to Hold the Line to give Ivan and Stella enough time to take off in the Il-2 before triggering the charges planted on the ballistic missiles underground. Interestingly, Bob actually survives the explosion, but when he contacts Ivan later, he dies shortly afterward from his injuries.
- Human Notepad: Ivan is covered by Japanese words as a Shout-Out to the classical Japanese tale "Hoichi the Earless" which symbolically fits to the game's theme of how long range communications device have gone due to a (proposed based of Kessler Theory) natural disaster.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Gotta be the reason why Ivan's standard melee weapon is a katana.
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: Inverted: the standard cyber-ninja mooks have red eyes but it's the blue eyed ninjas that are more dangerous.
- Luxury Prison Suite: Despite the fact that he's a prisoner in Gitmo, Ivan's personal cell is more like a penthouse bedroom than anything else.
- Men Are Generic, Women Are Special: The vast majority of SOD is male, except for the unit with optical camouflage which is all female. In addition, of the SOD leadership, all 3 men die while the 3 women survive. In detail, C4 pulls a HeelFace Turn, Ivan spares Jane Doe (though not without a price; see Eye Scream above), and Ludmila also survives although this is more down to luck than anything else, as Ivan definitely meant to kill her but the explosions in the control center gave her a chance to escape.
- The Musketeer: Ivan is skilled with guns and his Weapon of Choice is a katana, though he can also use a wide variety of other melee weapons. Some of the Elite Mooks also readily switch between guns and melee weapons.
- Named After Someone Famous: The Stealth Expert of SOD is named Ludmila Karenina.
- Ninja: One of the enemy types is essentially a modernized ninja. One of the Delta squad teammates even remarks on it.
- Off Screen Villain Dark Matter: A couple of times, Delta team expresses amazement that SOD has such a high number of personnel and wonder where they're getting their men from.
- One-Man Army: From Chapter 2 onwards, Ivan goes in with backup, not that he needs it.
- Powered Armor: The Mauve Shirt U.S. special forces squad that accompanies Ivan throughout the game wear exosuits similar to those seen in Elysium and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The Giant Mook enemies also appear likely to be wearing some form of Powered Armor.
- Rock Beats Laser: There is a part near the end of the game featuring an World War II-era fighter plane, the Ilyushin Il-2, to go up against a squadron of modern attack helicopters. However, the Il-2 can't stand up for long against them... but then a squadron of same-era American warbirds show up in the nick of time and take out the rest of the helicopter squadron.
- Scary Black Man: Grundhla Saha, tall, fast, muscular and Wakeup Call Boss.
- Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Exaggerated to the degree of high fantasy. The two "evil" female members of SOD wear what's essentially lingerie into combat (though the transparent catsuit one of them wears seems to be inspired by the stealth suit worn by Major Makoto in the original Ghost in the Shell movie), while the two "good" female characters (a non-evil member of SOD and a U.S. intelligence officer) both dress like actual soldiers. Granted, Ivan and the other male high-ranking members of SOD also wear barely any clothing into combat.
- Shown Their Work: Two-thirds of the game takes place on a place called "Braat Island." While the island itself is fictional, it is based off of the Kuril Islands and has a Rhenium plant on it. The Kuril Islands are one of the very few places on Earth where Rhenium is mined, and this is one major reason why there has been a long-time territorial dispute over the islands between Japan & Russia.
- The Delta team leader tells Ivan to just call him "Bob" because their real names are classified. This is Truth in Television for many special forces units around the world and the U.S. is no exception.
- Carraway calls the Navy SEAL team that raids the Cosmodrome "DEVGRU" which is the official name of the team that is far more popularly known as "SEAL Team 6."
- There's a lot of background text that's in very good English, Russian, and so on that's location appropriate. Unfortunately, this makes some of the sillier Japanese all the more noticible. Case in point, Ivan's Super Mode being named Embakunote creates the image of Ivan being powered by a healthy breakfast.
- The Stinger: During the credits there's a Metal Gear Solid-style phone call revealing that Ludmila survived, and the President of the United States was seemingly the real mastermind behind SOD's rampage.
- Super Mode: Embaku, which is filled by dealing melee damage. When activated, Ivan's tattoos begin glowing, enhancing his attacks and giving him near-perfect hipfire accuracy.
- Take Cover!: Ivan has ways of dealing with enemies at all ranges but when fighting with firearms you'll be able to take cover behind stationary objects.
- Tattooed Crook: Ivan's body is heavily inked with Sanskrit characters, spelling out various Buddhist scriptures. Apparently his design takes cues from an old Japanese folktale named "Hoichi the Earless". According to the loading screen, they contain magnetic materiel that react to "Embaku", meaning they glow upon activating the Super Mode.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: You can throw all the melee weapons you use, even swords. This is taken Up to Eleven with one of the finishing animations for the cyber-ninjas, where Ivan knocks their sword out of their hand, catches it, and throws it through them. Then uses his katana to behead them.
- Twenty Minutes In The Future: The game appears to take place in a time after artificial satellites orbiting the Earth have smashed into each other and come crashing to the surface. The world can no longer rely on things like GPS and the conditions of warfare have had to change accordingly.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: Two instances when you drive a jeep, and again when you have an on-rails shooting sequence in the air.
- Walking Armory: Ivan can carry two guns and a melee weapon to deal with enemies at any given time.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Ivan never wears anything more than a gun-belt on his chest. Saha likewise goes around shirtless, while Big Mouse is bare-chested underneath his leisure suit and General Kumaro also goes shirtless to fight Ivan. In fact, the only member of SOD's leadership, male or female, that actually fights while wearing sensible clothing is C4.
- Warfare Regression: The game opens with Russian military satellites self-destructing, and the ensuing debris wipes out a third of the United States' own satellites which also causes a worldwide EMP. This cripples much of America's military. During the raid on the Braat Cosmodrome, the U.S. is forced to use World War II era warbirds and aircraft carriers while the Cosmodrome defenders use flak cannons as their main Anti-Air weapons. Major Meynard and Ivan also have to fly to the Cosmodrome using an Il-2 when their helicopter is destroyed.
- World of Ham: To be expected from the man that brought you Dead or Alive and the modern Ninja Gaiden.