Title: Weird West
Developer: WolfEye Studios
Release Date: March 31, 2022
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Have you ever thought, “the Wild West could use more witches and immortal demon people?” If so, Weird West is definitely the game for you because it has all these things alongside solid narrative branches and enjoyable gameplay. It’s a bit buggy and could use some additional voice acting, but otherwise, Weird West is a pretty unique experience.
In Weird West, you play as five different characters over various story routes, each with their own objectives and goals. These range from an Indigenous warrior who seeks to destroy a cursed mine to a Pigman who wants to find his lost love. There’s much variety in the stories, though the game knows you’re controlling all these characters and incorporates this meta-knowledge into the plot in an exciting way.
It’s a cool narrative that actually changes through each character’s route depending on your choices, ensuring your actions have real consequences throughout the entire story. The world keeps going as you go from story to story, and it’s neat to see where certain characters end up because of your actions or inaction.
The atmosphere of Weird West is one of its stronger attributes, as the creepy and, as the title implies, weird, occurrences are pretty much everywhere. As you travel across the West, you’ll run into witches with mysterious conundrums for you, cultists performing freaky rituals, hellish beasts trying to kill you, and much much more. These supernatural elements never get in the way of the Western-style, though, as these strange events and characters perfectly fit in with the Wild West setting. Greed-fueled zombies and underground monsters just kind of work with sheriffs and shoot-outs, somehow.
Visually, Weird West has its own style that works well with its atmosphere. The models aren’t exceptionally detailed, but the many different designs and expressive character portraits go a long way in giving some personality to even minor supporting characters. I do wish there was more voice acting, as characters are largely unvoiced, making pivotal moments land a bit hollow. The narrator in Weird West really sells the aesthetic of Weird West, though, as his raspy and deep voice sets each scene nicely.
Combat is exciting and surprisingly strategic, as you need to jump between different weapons in each situation while shooting foes with twin-stick controls. One slip-up could lead to your death, which is primarily offset by the very handy quicksave/quick load feature that puts checkpoint placement in your hands. This is especially good because of how hard battles can be, as you can’t flee a location once enemies are coming for you. This means if you run in guns blazing with little ammo or health items, Weird West won’t throw you many bones. I like that this encourages you to prepare ahead of time but lets you do what you feel is best if your playstyle is different.
You can get better weapons and armor from dead enemies and shops, so you’re pretty much always getting better in some way. There are Perks and Abilities that can be unlocked using specific upgrade items, which do anything from granting you invincibility to increasing your maximum health. Perks carry over between characters, while abilities typically don’t. You’ve got to think ahead when it comes to which Perks will continue to be helpful in the future, adding another layer of thought to each route.
You have to use stealth a fair amount in Weird West, and it’s as tense as it is thrilling. Sneaking around, knocking out enemies, and making sure their bodies aren’t seen by patrolling foes takes a lot of patience and quick thinking, but it is fun. The best part is that you barely have to be stealthy if you’re confident in your combat skills, as it all comes down to how you want to play Weird West.
The way you act changes your reputation, altering how others respond to you. Being honorable may earn you new companions and respect, but gaining this reputation takes considerable effort as you do things the hard but honorable way. Yet again, how you choose to play impacts the world around you, which is greatly appreciated in a game that touts its changing world as a selling point.
I did find a fair amount of bugs throughout Weird West, from getting attacked in cutscenes to having the occasional quest not work correctly. These could be fairly frustrating, but I have faith that many of these issues will be fixed, as the devs have already patched several bugs throughout the game.
Weird West is a generally enjoyable game that balances an excellent atmosphere with visceral Western-styled combat. It has some bugs that could be fixed in the future and has a noticeable lack of voice acting, but for the most part, it’s a genuinely unique and exciting game. If you’ve ever wanted to be a cowboy and Van Helsing simultaneously, there’s finally a game for you.
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