Weird West is the kind of game you want to invest your time in. Released last week on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, the top-down immersive sim takes the familiar western concept and flips it on its head with horror, supernatural mysteries, and a ton of strategy that put players in control of their destiny. The survivalists who live to 100% complete Red Dead Redemption and its sequel are going to want to check out Weird West as it challenges players in interesting ways.
Something you’ll immediately notice when you dive into this game is how sharp the cel-shaded graphics look even from a distance from your player. You have the ability to close in on your player, but generally, the camera will stay at an isometric POV because enemies are capable of coming from any direction. Character interactions feel natural and the enemy A.I. is smart enough to find you if you accidentally fill their question mark meter.
The game really comes together when you start to realize how your actions have consequences. Never mind the ways you can upgrade your character — and picking the right upgrades can mean living or dying in battle — there are multiple ways the game forces you to make choices. The main story is listed at 20 to 25 hours according to WolfEye Studios, and provides great bang for your buck.
There’s the customary choice to not shoot or steal from innocent folks, but there are also decisions to be made about spending money and taking on jobs. Many tasks, for instance, force you to complete them within a certain amount of hours. Depending on whether you’re on foot or on horseback it can take many hours if not days to reach locations. Keeping track of that, while also dealing with random events like tornados or muggers along the trail can mean completing or failing side quests. You’ll also need to keep tabs on names and locations to ensure you stay on task.
The combat system leaves players a lot to work with, further making the game varied for how each player wants to play. Upgrading abilities for the multiple types of characters helps incentivize maxing out the characters while letting you upgrade weaponry, melee abilities, and magical abilities too. When fighting, WolfEye put effort into each map giving players a chance to blow up barrels of TNT or chemicals to douse the enemy with. Lanterns can also be set aflame, so if you’ve got an eagle eye, you’re bound to figure out a clever way to take out your enemies.
Early on in the game you’re reminded there’s a quick save for a reason: You’re going to die a lot. Especially early on when you haven’t yet figured out how to slow down time and hit your targets with accuracy. You’ll quickly find yourself inundated with enemies causing you to perish over and over. It’s not Dark Souls level difficult, but the difficulty can ramp up quickly if you head out on side quests and aren’t fully prepared. Take for instance the time I insisted on finding treasure after snagging a treasure map off a dead body only to discover way too powerful monsters guarding it.
Another element that increases difficulty is ammo. You actually can hold multiple weapons and ammo types right off the bat, but it’s easy to run through all your pistol ammo quickly. At first glance, it might seem like ammo is limited, but if you pick up an enemy weapon you can actually break it down for parts to gain a few extra bullets. If you’re a scavenger like me and pick up every item available you’re going to be rich, especially if you enjoy trading with folks.
The game’s console controls can feel a bit cumbersome, making me believe playing Weird West on PC with a mouse and keyboard would make for a smoother experience. Aiming, in particular, can be tricky to get down at first as you aim at a 360-degree plane. Things can get dicey when you start moving around changing direction or slowing down time and jumping through the air. Certain menus use a target to select, which suggests it was made with a mouse and keyboard in mind. I admit I’m not a seasoned top-down player, but I got frustrated more than once when it felt impossible to hit the targets. That said, there’s a laser sightline that helps line things up, so WolfEye Studios at least gives you something to work with.
Weird West is going to be the next game you’ll want to 100%. It offers a lot of variables that suit many different play styles while making every choice feel like it matters. On top of that, it perfectly nails the western look and feel while implementing supernatural horrors to fight and scavenge to make yourself a supernatural warrior in your own right. If you blend Shadowman with Red Dead Redemption, you’d have Weird West, but better in many ways.
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