What is Hard West?
Hard West is a story drive, turned based combat, rpg game based in the wild west of early North America, spliced with a supernatural element blatantly based on Christianity. It has unique mechanics for both combat and character sheet management that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. Hard West is now available on Steam and will be on sale for $15.99 until Nov. 25th at which point the new release promotion will end and will return to its standard price of $19.99.What's Good?
I got to play a large portion of various campaigns, accruing 9 to 10 hours of total gameplay. Unfortunately, part of that footage was corrupted so you can see my first 3 hours of gameplay, but, an experience was had nonetheless. So what was done well? What did I enjoy the most? I think obviously, if you watched the uploads provided below, was the combat and the character stat management, so let's talk about those.
The combat is for the most part, fairly typical for a turn based system. You take your turn, move your characters and attack, the enemy takes their turn to do the same. So what is special about that? A few things actually. Your characters, and enemies for that matter, only have but a few hits. the most health I was able to stack at any point in time was 14. Now that is about 100x less than what you could find in other similar turn based games. So, this leads to yet another question, how do you not get 1 to 2 shot when the guns all do anywhere between 3 damage and 8 (Highest I was capable of stacking during my gameplay)? That brings us to the over, or maybe its under, lying defensive mechanics. There are 2. First, everyone has Luck, which in this game serves more purpose than just more crits, or loot, or something else based on randomization, but rather, it's more of a secondary health pool. Most characters start with 100 luck, but this can be changed, as I managed to get over 200 luck at one point. During combat, every shot has a percentage to hit, based on another mechanic of the defensive system, cover. If you are in a position to have a 39% chance to hit, or be hit, if the shot misses, this will be deducted from the target's remaining Luck until you have no luck left, at which point the target will finally take damage. This puts a large amount of emphasis on positioning as the various guns, abilities and environment all interact differently with each other. Adds a whole other level of tactics.
Next part I highly enjoyed was the character sheet. While you do have traditional items that provide your character with statistical benefits, it was the 5 card draw system that really drew me in. I spent several minutes per video messing with these cards, and by the end, I had figured out several combinations that gave special bonus stats that, by the end, was really making a huge impact on how characters played during combat. In retrospect, there are only so many cards, which means there are only a specific number combinations and it would not take long for the community come up with the most efficient combinations for game play, but fun and unique nonetheless.
As with any game, Hard West has some downsides. The main part of the game that I feel will cause people to turn away is that the game is story driven. This means there is little action once you get into the main part of a campaign. You spend a large amount of time reading dialogue, exploring a 2d map, managing paper stats, etc. Essentially, I would describe it as if the developers created a digital version of traditional table top RPG, which will draw a very large crowd, but there will be just as many who are disappointed in the lack of overall action. Infact, it is possible, as I show in the 3rd part of our let's play, to complete a combat mission without any combat. I even got an achievement for it, yaaay!
Hmm, it seems that I can only think of this one objection to the game, but it's such a large, integral part of the game that it can't, and won't be overlooked. In my opinion, people will love or hate this game for this one aspect.
So, let's just leave it at that.
My Final Thoughts!
Typically, this is the part of the review I ask if the game is worth a buy. For me, the answer should be obvious. The game is very well worth its relatively low price for such an amazing and unique game. It will have a niche audience, but a large one, so on the whole, I fully expect the game to be highly successful. Do I have any special feedback for the development team? No, I love the game as it is and look forward to see what they do going into the future.
As usual, all of my gameplay videos was uploaded to our YouTube channel and a link will be provided to part one. Don't forget to like and subscribe and check back for more reviews just like this one.
So until next time,
Stay Calm, and Llama on!