Weird West Review


When Weird West developers Julien Roby and Raphael Colantonio left Arkane studios, they left behind a legacy of games that defined the immersive sim genre. Both Dishonored and Prey belong to modern immersive sim genre royalty. Roby and Colantonio’s new studio, Wolfeye, presents Weird West, an isometric action RPG spanning the immersive sim genre that brilliantly translates many of the genre’s best features into a top-down format that with an imaginative and stylish take on the wild west. The Weird West setting is all about the surreal and the supernatural, a dark fantasy twist on stories of cowboys and outlaws. The world created by WolfEye is one of the most complete occult fantasy west games a fan could hope for – a video game tour of everything that goes bump in the night, so to speak. Witches and poltergeists roam the world as do bandits and gunslingers, and sometimes these factions work together. Combining the occult flair and pulp story of Weird West is a cel-shaded art style that ties the game to its comic influences Jonah Hex and Desperados. The game is a joy to experience from an art and setting perspective, even if it feels limited by the lack of voice-over and simple cutscenes. Weird West tells the story of 5 unique characters, from a retired bounty hunter looking for his wife to a werewolf struggling with his pack responsibilities. These five stories are tightly interwoven and well focused stories with great character focus. However, these characters are also bound by a mysterious brand around their necks, which integrates them into an overarching story where the fate of the west hangs in the balance. Weird West’s story often feels like a video game realization of a pulpy western horror comic book and has a unique charm to its storytelling because of it. Weird-West-Character Weird West’s story shines when creating compelling scenarios thanks to well-written characters and a dynamic, changing world. Throughout Weird West, each character the player encounters has their own motives that may conflict with the motives of the player or other NPCs important to the story. Sometimes, simply showing kindness to a bandit NPC can become a Friend For Life, helping a player when they need it. Weird West gives players a great sense of freedom in a world with decisions that weigh heavily on them. Depending on their choices, players can become a hero or villain of the West. It’s possible to show up in a gang-affiliated town, start a fight, and free the population from their extortionists. The consequences of this could be a vendetta against that particular gang, which will now stop players as they traverse the world map seeking revenge. As players interact with the world, they gradually make a place for themselves in the game’s reputation system. Towns, factions, and player reputation can change over multiple playthroughs. How players want to interact with NPCs and the world is entirely up to them, and Weird West supports player decisions and subsequent consequences. All of the surrounding character and world interactions culminate in Weird West having a persistent, living world that expertly makes the player feel like they’re a part of it all rather than the center. The game design philosophy of “saying yes to the player” has always been a part of immersive sims, traditionally first-person games. Wolfeye carries this philosophy and executes it well with the Weird West gameplay loop. The top-down perspective provides a new layer of digestible tactical thinking in its dynamic sandbox environments. Players who always feel overwhelmed by the amount of options that games like Dishonored will present to the player – unsure of what is the best way to attack – may feel more comfortable with Weird West. Weird-West-Witches The interactivity of the world plays an important role in how players choose to tackle different combat scenarios throughout the game. There’s no shortage of options for completing a mission, and full stealth, non-lethal playthroughs are entirely possible. However, there are also many gameplay options for shooting and robbing frontiersmen. Players familiar with the Divinity: Original Sin series of games will feel comfortable with how Weird West handles environmental interactions. With the exception of Weird West, the action takes place in a real-time dynamic environment instead of a turn-based system like Divinity. Where Divinity: Original Sin allows a player to detonate a poison barrel and then ignite toxic fumes with a fire spell, burning their enemies for four turns, Weird West lets roundhouse player kick a poison barrel into the TNT barrel, shoot two and watch a chain of explosions destroy a pack of zombies in 5 seconds. Weird West’s combat loop is fun when a plan comes together the way the player envisioned. All types of revolvers, repeaters, shotguns, and dynamite are available to the player with an upgrade system that rewards players willing to hunt animals and mine ore veins for a while. Abilities and perks are unlocked through Nymph Relics and Golden Ace of Spades cards found throughout the world or by completing various side quests. The loot-oriented progression system strongly encourages players to take part in many of the game’s side quests or take the time to simply smell the roses. Weird West’s pitfalls lie in its combat system. The conversion of immersive sim elements works well with the isometric structure; however, the twin-stick shooter style of gameplay is often less intuitive and clunkier than it should be in a top-down format. Aiming guns relies on a range-based, radial system that isn’t always accurate to what the player is aiming for and, when combined with the game’s often chaotic combat situations, make combat more chaotic than it needs to be. Expect companions to be accidentally shot quite often. Weird-West-Gunfight These problems are exacerbated by a camera that never feels right. Removing the camera makes the combat situation better, but players can often easily trip over various obstacles in the Weird West sandboxes or lose their character when they walk in front of a wall. Conversely, a close camera angle provides more detail in the world but obscures vision in combat situations, reducing situational awareness and making long-range interactions a bit confusing. Additionally, Weird West’s item acquisition system is often frustrating as the game struggles to understand what the player wants to pick up in item-heavy rooms. In a game where the player can pick up anything that isn’t nailed down, looting becomes tedious as players repeatedly have to orient themselves to pick up their intended items. While a much shorter experience than most other RPGs of its ilk at around 20 hours, Weird West’s ability to do so much within its limitations is where it truly shines. It doesn’t have the budget of Divinity or Wasteland, but it punches well above its weight thanks to some great world-building, smart writing, and character situations that constantly present new ideas to the player. Wolfeye’s attempt to bring the immersive sim genre into an isometric game works well overall, though there are some hiccups in handling combat and looting. Fans itching for a game that allows freedom of choice in both story and gameplay at every turn should look no further than Weird West. Weird West is now available on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Today Technology was provided a PC code for this review. MORE: Weird West Might Scratch That Fallout1/Fallout 2 Itch

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