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Weird West review

By Tom West,

The Wild West has always been a fascinating period of time for me, and from a young age, I began to develop a fondness for spaghetti westerns — Clint Eastwood’s films, mostly. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, Two Mules for Sister Sara, Hang ‘Em High, and others from Eastwood’s career. The lawlessness of the Old West coupled with the fact that the “good guy” is a badass that walks an extremely fine line between vigilante and outlaw leads to a thrilling adventure. But what if you threw in some Pigmen that spew poison bile everywhere? Maybe shake it up a little with the addition of teleporting witches? Or, if you’re feeling particularly creative, portray the hero as five different people, each on the same journey but with wildly different backstories, events, and experiences, which come crashing together in one catastrophic ending? Weird West takes everything that captures your imagination in those old spaghetti westerns, throws it all in a pot with folklore and myths from the Old West, and sends you off into the world to find out if you’re a lawman or an outlaw.

Weird West follows the stories of five protagonists: a Bounty Hunter on a path of vengeance, a Pigman who’s trying to remember who he is, a Native Protector on a mission to rid the land of greed, a Werewolf who’s attempting to save his people from annihilation, and an Oneirist witch that holds the fate of the West in her hands. Each character walks their own path, but all are connected by strange marks on their necks which signal that their souls are not the only ones possessing their bodies. A playthrough of Weird West sees you experience their ‘journeys’ in sequence, but they all mould and shape the world as they go, so wiping out a settlement on a previous Journey will carry over to your next journey. This is one of the defining features of Weird West, because killing someone’s loved one or gaining the attention of bounty hunters due to excessive troublemaking can and will carry on to your next character. How they know it’s still you is anyone’s guess, but they can become a serious pain in your backside, especially on a fresh journey before you’ve had a chance to get some decent gear and abilities. The people of the Weird West really do hold grudges, so it’s best to make sure you’ve settled rivalries or bounties before you finish a hero’s storyline.

Much the same as your ability to murder everybody in sight if you so wish — children are still a no-go — or steal your way to a wealthy lifestyle, Weird West’s immersive sim gameplay really lets you experience the world in the way that you want to, and it absolutely excels at it during combat. There are many things to love about Weird West, but its ability to keep combat fresh is something that will more than likely stay with you long after you finish the game. Almost all combat situations can be skipped by using stealth tactics. Whether you roll to cover, crouch walk through long grass or shrubs, pick up almost any item and toss it somewhere to divert the gaze of an unsavoury NPC, or go for the classic stealth takedown — the takedown on sleeping characters sees you punch them in the back of the head, which is a pretty enjoyable way of doing it — you can generally get past most instances unnoticed. It’s not a completely polished system, though, due to the camera angles not allowing you to see everything around you, which caught me out on more than one occasion because I couldn’t see that an enemy had spotted me. That said, I didn’t find it to be too much of a problem, because the absolute carnage of the game’s combat is ridiculously rewarding.

Adapting to the environment is where the fun of freedom comes into play during Weird West’s combat, all the way down to the weather. Developer WolfEye has ensured that the game’s weather systems are more than just scene setters, with rain creating puddles and soaking your enemies, making them susceptible to electric damage caused by your bottled lightning projectiles. Thunderstorms will light up the battlefield with lightning strikes, while windy weather can kick up whirlwinds that can be given a little boost by adding a bit of fire to the mix, causing a towering inferno to twist its way through the area. There were more than a few times when the weather had changed during a fight and a grin appeared across my face, because I knew that I was about to obliterate the poor fools in spectacular style. If you’re inside or the weather is boringly clear, then the use of barrels makes up for it. It’s fairly rewarding to throw a chemical barrel at a group of unsuspecting baddies, then launch a molotov cocktail at it and watch the area explode, decimating everything in sight.

The gunplay itself plays very much like a top-down twin-stick shooter, with the addition of a slow-motion dive feature that is reminiscent of the time-slowing action found in Red Dead Redemption (just without the multi-targeting ability). While each character can access a pistol, shotgun, rifle, bow, and melee weapon, it’s their individual abilities that make them all unique. Each has a particular set of abilities that really mixes up the flow of combat. The Pigman can fill the area with poison or make his skin ricochet enemy bullets back at them for a limited time, making him a great character to use in the thick of the action with a shotgun. The Oneirist is more of a ranged character, using teleportation spells and spectral copies of herself to stay out of harm’s way. Each journey makes you rethink your combat strategies to make the best use of each characters’ abilities — since fights can become bonkers in a matter of seconds, putting a ton of enemies in your way, using your abilities in an effective manner can mean the difference between victory or death. It’s all reasonably simple to learn, but once you’ve mastered the characters’ best strategies, you’re rewarded with wild gameplay and visually pleasing chaos.

weird west review

While each character’s journey is unique from a storyline perspective, they’re all linked by the marks on their necks because they’re essentially controlled by the same soul. It means that many things carry over with each subsequent journey, such as bank and saddlebag inventory, world map locations that you’ve found, and others. Their actual inventories don’t carry over but going to visit them in the world allows you to have them join your posse and then share the items they are holding. You can have up to two other characters join you in your posse, either by recruiting the previous journeys’ heroes or by hiring one of the many characters found in the world. On top of this, helping the people of the Weird West can see them added as a Friend for Life, which causes them to appear during a fight if it’s looking like you’re going to lose. You can’t control who or when they show up, but they saved my hide plenty of times and it’s something I really liked about the game. Of course, if you upset someone, there is a chance they’ll start a Vendetta against you and will then randomly appear at some point to try and kill you. It’s that classic choice-and-consequence thing in action, and it’s great.

What makes a great game based on the Old West, or in this case, a variation of it, is the storytelling and the many personalities you can meet on your travels. Weird West ensures you’re greeted by plenty of colourful characters, both good and bad, and the stories they provide are generally quite endearing. There are the usual fetch quests sporadically thrown in, but the majority are well written and only seem to draw you deeper into the world’s lore. Whether you’re aiding a potty-mouthed tree with suicide or diving into the game’s mysterious main theme surrounding a group of immortal beings, the stories feel unique — even if the locations themselves feel a bit copy/paste much of the time.

The Weird West achievements feel like WolfEye Studios put a lot of thought into the required challenges. Almost all of the achievements are miscellaneous, asking you to dive into the mechanics of the game, such as causing elemental whirlwinds, going out of your way to perform specific tasks, and the like. Many are extremely missable, though, so you need to have a manual save of each journey as you make your way through Weird West, so you have a way to get back to each character without restarting. Each of the five journeys have their own story-choice related achievements, as well as a couple of side achievements that you’ll need to work for because they won’t just appear for you. Overall, it’s not a difficult list to complete, and once there are guides published, it’ll become an even easier affair.

weird west review

Summary

With a fantastic roster of stories to play through and characters to interact with, Weird West is sure to please any fan of the Old West. Its mix of fantasy and spaghetti western tropes blends beautifully to create a memorable experience that twists and turns around the believable and magical. While there are a few niggles here and there, the overall experience feels polished throughout and WolfEye’s attention to detail is noticeable in all aspects. The Weird West is beautiful, deadly, and free from constraining gameplay choices. See you there, partner…

9 / 10
* Tom spent around 50 hours pretending to be a pigman cowboy, unlocking 44 of the 53 achievements. A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher and played on Xbox Series X.

Source link : Trueachievements

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