Weird West is as downright bizarre as the title suggests, but it backs it up with impressively nuanced “immersive sim” gameplay.
Weird West is what would happen if you took Dishonored’s decision and consequences, put it in isometric perspective, and set it on an almost lawless frontier of cowboys, cannibals, and many other scary things.
Wolfeye Studios’ title is captivating and exhilarating, and while there are a few minor blemishes, it proves that the immersive sims genre is here to stay – it’s just a little different than you might remember.
Weird West – Key Details
- price: $39.99/£33.49
- developer: Wolfeye Studios
- release date: March 31, 2022
- platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC
Strange West trailer
Strange & Wonderful
The opening of the game begins almost like a brutal revenge story. Her first character, Jane Bell, a John Wick-style bounty hunter, digs up her disused pistols after her son is killed by marauding mercenaries and her husband is captured to be sold for meat. It’s a surefire way to get your attention, and while it might need a little more build-up to offer some stakes, it’s refreshing to jump straight into the action.
Within minutes, our heroine scours a meticulously detailed town for clues before traveling to a bandit camp to take out enemies one by one, all with a wolf attack somewhere in the middle. The best part? This is just the tutorial, and it gives a solid idea of what to expect – the frontier of Weird West is quite unsettling in places, and no one is safe from demonic monsters and the occasional Eldritch horror that wanders the levels.
All of this bizarre bounty hunting is held together by a cel-shaded art style that’s not only beautiful to look at, but functional as well. Solid lines and dusty textures look great, but there’s also a massive amount of items to grab and use in the game. Each of the locations feels like a delightful but messy diorama, full of character but easy to explore through a rotating camera.
You travel from one of these promontories to the next, enjoying chance encounters along the way. Exploration isn’t just encouraged, it’s almost always rewarded, with new perks, items, and weapons to customize your playstyle.
Even better is the cast of playable characters. Once you finish one protagonist’s arc, another begins. Play as Pigman and channel Divinity’s “Undead” class – the townsfolk fear you and you’ll have to give them a wide berth lest they grab their pitchforks, while the Werewolf is ridiculously quick and aggressive and a faster one Playstyle preferred.
Choice, consequence and gunpowder
The aforementioned items aren’t just set dressing, either. Sure, a lot of it can be stolen and sold, but as you’d expect from a game from Arkane Studios alumni, there’s a massive array of interconnected systems moving under the hood just begging to be poked and shoved.
The game, despite its altered perspective, is an immersive simulation, meaning you get to pick and choose your battles – often literally. Not since Divinity Original Sin 2 has a top-down perspective contributed as much to combat and exploration, whether it’s exploding oil lamps, stacking crates to reach a platform, or electrocuting to take out enemies inside.
Things start out simple enough, with protagonists able to fire multiple weapons, but the game starts to show its inspirations and heritage with short-range teleport, the ability to call down lightning while it’s hovering, or the ability to , to create a duplicate of it distract yourself. One perk even lets your character walk through an ever-changing patch of flame and keep enemies at bay.
Combat is fun and can be hectic, especially when ammo is low. Aiming feels responsive, aided by perfectly timed aim assist, and learning to switch between the available tools in your arsenal allows for more interesting combinations. like diving in slow motion to get off a few shots before your enemy can react, or stunning an enemy with your bow so they’re ripe for a stealth takedown.
Speaking of stealth, it feels like a viable solution in many scenarios, even if it lacks combat verve. Sneaking onto rooftops, dropping into buildings (and onto enemies), and grabbing valuable items or keys without bloodshed (or spending your hard-earned cash) fires neurons just as hard as that perfect gunshot that chops off an enemy’s head . Finding that balance is difficult, but Wolfeye Studios has pulled it off.
You should also avoid killing everything because the Weird West will react to your actions – and your misconduct. You can kill anyone in a town and leave with all the loot you want, but returning can bring vengeance in the form of the walking dead. You’ll also likely end up with a bounty on your head, which can prompt bounty hunters to stalk you and show up when you least expect it. However, the same goes for allies you find who can seemingly help when things are looking all but lost.
Not wild enough
Unfortunately, the enemy AI is a bit sparse. Vision cones aren’t shown, but they’re obviously visible, and like many stealth games, you’ll feel pretty confident you should’ve been spotted – especially since the allied AI is often wandering around right in front of your opponents.
While not a looter per se, the game features a range of increasingly powerful weapons, but they lack all other defining characteristics, except that the more damage they inflict, the rarer they are. You can add traits with other gear, but we would have liked the option for a bit more build variety on the weapons themselves.
Weird West is an excellent immersive sim that combines a unique world, choice-driven gameplay, and beautiful aesthetics to create a game unlike anything we’ve played this year.
2022 was packed with great games, but you should skip Weird West at your own peril – or the Pigman will get you.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5 (PlayStation 4 version)
Weird West is available on Xbox Game Pass. Find out more about this month’s lineup here. For more reviews of the latest releases, see the following:
Ghostwire Tokyo Review | Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Review | Tunic Review | Triangle strategy review
https://www.dexerto.com/reviews/weird-west-review-1795272/ Weird West Review – A Dishonored fans dream