In an ongoing attempt to take over the world, another new title has launched straight onto the Game Pass service, going by the name of Weird West. It isn’t, as you may think, a game about life in San Francisco, but is instead a kind of RPG set in the Wild West. From Wolfeye Studios and published by Devolver Digital, it promises to bring an immersive sim experience to the Xbox. Coming from the co-creators of Prey and Dishonored (although you’d be hard pressed to find any echoes of those iconic titles in this game) can it live up to the billing? I strapped on my six shooter and set off into the Weird West.
Story is key to a game like this, and fortunately everything is all present and correct in that respect. We play Jane Bell, an ex-bounty hunter who gave it all up to get married, raise a family and attempt to make a living on a farm. Well, as always, it isn’t long before trouble comes knocking on the door. In addition to the normal kind of bad guys you’d expect in a Western styled game, there are the elements that make Weird West weird: monsters, werewolves and so on and so forth. When trouble pops up, it is in the shape of a gang who kidnap your husband, in order to feed him to their new leader, and worse than that, they kill your son but make the mistake of leaving you alive. So what would any self respecting bounty hunter do but dig up the guns that she buried in order to embark on her new life, strap them on and go hunting for the dirty lowdown snakes that took her man? Well, as it turns out, nothing, as that’s exactly what she does!
Presentation-wise Weird West is very reminiscent of the Wasteland series of gamers, particularly Wasteland 3. This is largely down to the graphical style and the camera angle, which is pretty much a top three quarters view, in an isometric style. The camera is almost infinitely adjustable, which is lucky, as quite often you will need to rotate the camera to get the best view of the action. The sprites for the character are nicely detailed and have a lot of personality, and the baddies and enemies are also nicely designed. The first time you see a bandit turn into a werewolf will stick with you, let’s put it that way.
The sound design is all nicely done as well, with snarling coyotes, and bad guys shouting as you shoot them in the face. Music is minimal, but the atmosphere is quite effective at making an oppressive feel. The majority of the story is told via the medium of cutscenes with quite a lot of text, and with new bits of narrative being found by finding bits and bobs in the environment, the impetus is there to make sure you explore all the areas.
Now, gameplay, and as usual with this type of game, there is a divide between the combat side of things, and the exploration side of Weird West. Exploring areas will see you finding things that will help you in your quest, ranging from Nimp Relics, that allow you to unlock new skills in a number of categories, to Golden Aces that will unlock various perks, such as increased health. You can also find weapons and new outfits in the world, and weapons can also be looted from defeated enemies. Also, while you are kicking about the place, you can recruit companions that you can take along on the various missions that are available.
We then get to the combat in Weird West, which is interesting. The way that the game is structured made me feel like it was initially going to be a turn-based game, but this is not the case. The combat is done in an almost twin-stick style, with the right stick aiming your weapon when the left trigger is pressed, and firing taken care of by the right trigger. The left stick runs your character about, but the main thing you need to remember is that in this world the dodge jump is your best friend, and with a bit of practice, it is almost possible to get through the game and barely take any damage.
You can equip up to three firearms, a melee weapon and also a bow, and swap between them by using the LB button to bring up a weapon wheel, which works pretty well. Finally, the RB button is used to bring up a selection of special moves that you have unlocked with the Nimp Relics you found, ranging from emptying your pistol in one blast to using the rifle to take out the sentries in silence.
The narrative is enough to keep dragging you through Weird West, but I have to admit that the grind required is pretty off-putting. As an example, if you want to buy a horse (and why wouldn’t you in a Western game?) it will cost you around $298, and this is a stupid amount of money in relation to Weird West’s economy. You can take on bounties and side missions to help bolster your funds, but the bounties are pretty tricky, especially at the low level that you start out at, and even with help from an NPC (if you do good deeds and free people, they will randomly appear and help you out if you are in a tight spot) the fights with the bosses are very difficult indeed. You will need a lot of ammo, which costs a lot of money. And so you begin to see the problem?
Other than this complaint, there is really little else wrong with Weird West. The story and gameplay are both highlights, and all in all it is an enjoyable experience. The work that has gone into the Weird West world and the characters that frequent it is impressive. Yes the grind is real, but it is a rewarding experience when it all comes together.
Weird West is available to download from the Xbox Store
In an ongoing attempt to take over the world, another new title has launched straight onto the Game Pass service, going by the name of Weird West. It isn’t, as you may think, a game about life in San Francisco, but is instead a kind of RPG set in the Wild West. From Wolfeye Studios and published by Devolver Digital, it promises to bring an immersive sim experience to the Xbox. Coming from the co-creators of Prey and Dishonored (although you’d be hard pressed to find any echoes of those iconic titles in this game) can it live up to…
Weird West Review
Weird West Review
- Good story
- Difficult but rewarding combat
- World is interesting
- The grind is very real indeed
- In-game economy could do with rebalancing
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to – Devolver Digital
- Formats – Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC
- Version reviewed – Xbox One on Xbox Series X
- Release date – 31 Mar 2022
- Launch price from – £33.49