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Weird West Review

Weird West is an immersive dark fantasy sim mixed with action RPG elements as well as real time combat that has twin-stick shooting or stealth, it’s up to how you want to play. Developers WolfEye Studios, made up of co-creators of Dishonored and Prey, and publisher Devolver Digital, have produced a game that I can’t get enough of. With procedurally generated layouts for side quests and locations to explore meant each player’s journey will be slightly different. The wild west theme is interspersed with supernatural sirens, pigmen, witches and all manner of things weird and wonderful. The game releases on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on March 31, 2022.

The isometric view is an instant drawcard for me, and I was pleased to read that the developers were big fans of Ultima 7 and Ultima Underworld. I too was struck by the wonder and gameplay of Ultima 7 which led into my love of MMORPGs through Ultima Online. Weird West plays like those games, only we have more control over the camera and the graphics run smooth as butter, even with large explosions and lots of characters on screen. This isometric view, backed up with a story and gameplay that sucks you into caring about each character you meet. Even little things like vultures swooping down to devour the corpse of someone you literally just shot, makes this world feel lived in and alive, and that something could try to kill you at every turn.

The story of Weird West has a group of interconnected stories or journeys that we get to play through. Decisions and actions that we make in one journey will have actions and consequences in the next. There was a shady character that I came across who had wronged the bounty hunter I was first playing as. Though, compassionate me decided to spare his life, as I do in similar games like this. I just struggle being a bad guy. I knew I should have killed him, but I let him go. He was then found causing a stir in the second journey as the pigman. I loved this interconnectivity that was maintained from one journey to the next. Sometimes it was to your benefit, and other times your detriment.

You can form a posse in Weird West where you can recruit allies to fight with you if you wish. I really enjoyed the fact that you could posse up with a character from a previous journey, and they remembered the decisions you made for them during their journey. Forming a posse is completely optional and you can go through each journey as a lone wolf if you like. That’s the beauty of this game, the player’s choice is front and centre as you travel the lands. You can just travel everywhere on foot, as when you open the overworld map and hover over a destination, it will tell you how many game hours it takes to get there which could change the day/night cycle. If you ride a horse instead, you not only gain some valuable pack space to offload some of the glorious loot you will find, but you will also have less of a chance of getting ambushed in your travels.

I was taken back to memories of playing a game like Baldur’s Gate. As you travel between areas, there was this anxious wait as you watch the travel meter ticking over, holding your breath and hoping you don’t get ambushed by something. When the flash of red comes up, your heart sinks a little as you prepare for what’s ahead. These mid-travel encounters aren’t all bad, some are travelling merchants that you can sell your junk to, or a character that might give you a side quest. Other times you will come under attack and need to defend yourself, and if you barely survived your last encounter, I dare say you may be reloading very quickly.

Combat in Weird West is so good. It’s real time tactical combat so you see the enemy ahead and assess your approach. I always started with the stealthy approach, scouting the battlefield looking for enemies I can single out. The game’s introduction teaches you to use the environment to your advantage. There may be a lit lantern on top of a barrel, which is on top of a pile of hay. Shooting the lantern not only causes a distraction, but it will also light the hay on fire. Shooting a poison barrel will spray poisonous liquid in the vicinity. Throw a Molotov cocktail or lantern onto it will ignite that too.

Like in other games, I always start off stealthily, but it almost always goes pear shaped and I’ll end up in a shootout. The various weapons you can use, from pistols, shotguns, and rifles to bow and arrow and melee weapons, give you some great versatility in how you handle each fight and the different enemy types. You can also equip companions in your posse with varying weapons to compliment your party, and combat can be a work of art. You can also upgrade weapons and armour pieces back in town at the blacksmith or tailor shop. There are some great RPG elements in Weird West to cater to those inclined in using the resources and items you find. But you can also get through each journey with the loot you find.

I was super impressed with how I could solve some of the problems I faced in Weird West. The first example I can give is that I had to rescue a character who was in a room across a chasm. There was a raised bridge, but the electrics of the bridge trailed into a locked iron cage. I died several times backtracking trying to find a key. On one of the quick reloads, I thought to myself, “I would love to be able to just shoot through the bars to hit the lever inside the cage.” I aimed at the lever and the target reticule came up. I shot my pistol and to my wonder, the lever moved, and the bridge lowered.

Another example of the game’s versatility is when I was playing as the pigman, having to infiltrate a two-story building full of enemies to unlock some memories. All access points on the lower floor were locked and I had found no lockpicks at that point. I could have travelled to a town, bought some lockpicks and returned. Instead, I looked around the building and saw a lowered ledge above a door. Nearby was a barrel, so I grabbed that, placed it next to this ledge, jumped up onto the barrel then onto the ledge, jumped across to a nearby balcony and gained access to the building that way.

I had my usual gripes like lack of pack space given there are so many things you can loot which meant I either dropped or salvaged items, forgetting that my horse Calamity could also carry heaps of things. Currency is in the game, and you can buy items like weapons, ammo, lockpicks and bandages, but you find enough of everything if you take the time to search for them.

Occasionally members of my posse would run straight into a pile of straw or oil that was on fire, or an enemy would throw a stick of dynamite and the party member just stood there and died to the blast. I would have loved to have more control over where the party could be positioned, but this situation only happened a couple of times over my time in the game so it’s a minor gripe. I also had a few crashes to desktop, but I imagine that could have been the early review build of the game.

What’s even better is that WolfEye have planned a heap of free content additions beyond release. Things such as new events, story paths including new travel encounters, and side quests and additional elements, game modes and tools. They are also looking at releasing full paid expansions like new journeys to Weird West, so this already fantastic game is going to be one to return to regularly.

Overall, Weird West is masterful melding of genres that does what it says on the box and does it well, and is one of the best games I’ve played this year. It’s weird, it’s the wild west, it immerses you in the story and I loved the connections between the characters across each journey. The isometric view combined with versatile active combat within such an immersive story kept me coming back for more and I highly recommend this game.

This review utilised a Steam key provided by Power Up PR and Weird West is out now on PC, Xbox and PlayStation.


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