Weird West Review: A Strange Adventure (PC)

Weird West is a third person RPG which is a great dark fantasy re-imagining of the Wild West with supernatural elements. Its fast-paced combat and in-game decision making stand out, but the story and repetition detract from an otherwise solid experience.

Weird West Review: A Strange Adventure (PC)

Weird West is a supernatural re-imaging of the Wild West, if most of the magic and creatures prominent in those tales actually existed. You will experience the West through the eyes of different individuals who have their own adventures, each giving you a unique insight into the world of Weird West, even if it does seem repetitive at times.

With the freedom to be a law-abiding gunslinger or the next terror in the West, you can build your own experience by being the type of character you always wanted. It is a great way to add your own twist on the game’s existing story.

Weird West is available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One for $39.99 USD.

Weird West - Official Launch Trailer

 

Story – Five Characters, Five Divergent Tales

Instead of building your own character, Weird West puts you in the shoes of 5 different characters, with each story taking place after the other. None of the stories are related to each other, and explore the life of individuals who have had some horrific events happen to them.

Unlike other RPGs set in the Wild West, you aren’t playing with a full cast of humans. You will play as are feared monsters who, despite having a thinking mind and a conscience, are known for terrorizing people. This sets up the plot for some of the characters, as they have to achieve their goals while being vilified wherever they go.

You don't just play as humans, one playable character is a Pigman.

You don’t just play as humans, one playable character is a Pigman.

No matter who you choose to play, you will be meeting and fighting beings of all shapes and sizes. From the bandits and outlaws that commit crimes to the supernatural ghosts and pigmen that terrorize unsuspecting civilians, Weird West does a great job of showing you the colorful characters and beings that live in the world, while creating backstories that draw you into the mythos.

The story is dictated by the options you choose, as well as the actions that you take. You can choose to save a character’s husband at the cost of letting a criminal run free, or choose to free trapped souls within a tree at the cost of never finding out what happened to your loved ones.

Weird West remembers the actions that you take in each story and brings them over to a new chapter. Freeing characters from imprisonment allows them to help you, while killing them may force you to find alternative solutions in the future. This not only drives home the point that your choices matter, but allows you to have your own unique story experience that won’t be the same in another playthrough.

Gameplay – Exploring The West At Your Pace

You will interact with Weird West from the third-person perspective, which changes to a world map screen when traveling between locations. Time passes as you travel and interact with the world, which will affect certain things such as store opening hours (people need to sleep) and visibility (you are harder to spot at night).

The two big aspects of Weird West’s gameplay are its combat and choice system, which blend together to make a unique experience that lets you build the reputation of your characters.

Combat – Fast Paced & Flexible

When you think of the Wild West, you think of gunfights with bullets flying around and combatants hiding behind cover, trying to get a shot in.

Weird West delivers on that experience and more. Every character can find a gun and will make use of the environment to get an advantage on their enemies. While there isn’t anything wrong with a traditional firefight, you are encouraged to make use of your surroundings such as rocks for cover, or take advantage of items in the environment to hurt your enemies such as explosive TNT barrels.

You can fire at the enemy, or move around to bypass their cover.

You can fire at the enemy, or move around to bypass their cover.

Each character will have access to abilities that allow them to pull off special moves with each type of weapon (or unique abilities related to their character), which can turn the tables in a nasty situation. To make combat exciting, some of your enemies have access to the same abilities, which makes you plan and strategize the best course of action.

There are also options for melee combat with bladed weapons such as knives and machetes for those that prefer getting up close and personal. There are thrown weapons such as molotov cocktails (called Wildfire Cocktails) or dynamite that can bypass enemy cover. You can also resort to using hand-to-hand combat with punches and kicks ensuring that you always have a weapon to fight with.

You can also choose to use stealth tactics to take out enemies if you want to avoid direct combat, in a style similar to Ghost of Tsushima. You aren’t the most stealthy individual, but you can take your time to pick enemies off and knock them unconscious, which is the same as defeating them.

If you are getting overwhelmed or have run into a group of enemies you are not ready for, you can still run for your lives and choose to fight another day.

The freedom to choose how you want to resolve a situation immerses you in the world, letting you decide how things go down.

Using melee combat when you can run straight to your enemies is not a bad idea.

Using melee combat when you can run straight to your enemies is not a bad idea.

There are some disadvantages that Weird West’s combat does run into. The fast pace often means projectiles are flying while combatants do their best to move around. If you are fighting with allies, they can make some strange combat decisions such as standing in the radius of an explosive you threw or intercept an attack meant for an enemy.

Friendly fire is enabled (on Normal and higher difficulties), which means you could end up accidentally killing allies or important VIPs because they haven’t been intelligent. The game is also bad at handling any number of characters moving close to each other, which can result in you missing an enemy right next to you not because of a dodge, but because they have suddenly moved around you.

Despite the flaws, combat is exciting and fresh, leaving you wanting more as you carve your own way to achieve your goals.

Choices – Meaningful In Ways You Don’t Expect

While each character has their individual story, you control the actions they take and the reputation they build in the world. High reputations give you benefits such as cheaper prices and mercenaries who want to join you, while negative reputations inspire fear in townspeople and scare your enemies.

This extends to decisions such as leaving enemies alive or killing them, which is highlighted by the Vendetta system. Choosing to keep enemies alive for a higher bounty/positive reputation boost leaves them alive to come after you for revenge. Failing to kill an enemy leads to a similar result, and they can hamper your efforts at any random point in time.

Choosing between destroying a machine or the easier choice of killing an enemy.

Choosing between destroying a machine or the easier choice of killing an enemy.

If you are particularly cruel, you can also shoot up an inhabited town, turning it into a ghost town where criminals and other supernatural beings can take hold. The reverse is also true, you can make locations safe by hunting criminals and regular civilians will start to move back in.

The game also accommodates your choices with the main story. You can choose to be a cruel hunter who kills off important story NPCs, but the game will still provide you with a way to progress the story to avoid locking yourself out.

Deciding how you want a character to be drives home the point of making your own Wild West experience. Even if you don’t get to create your own character, you can still be the lawful saint/feared criminal that you want to be.

The story’s flexibility is appealing, but is sometimes undercut by the repetition that is found in each story. For example, in the first story you play a bounty hunter who is searching for her missing husband. While you do get to fight your way to him, you are almost always a step behind until the end. Most of your time is spent going from one location to another, discovering that you are too late and repeating the process several times.

The unique take of each character’s story helps to keep things fresh, but it can feel dull at times when you are doing the same action repeatedly to progress the story. It feels like there could have been more types of adventures that you could go on, but that potential remains untouched.

Audio & Visuals – That Gritty Western Feel

As this is a re-imagining of the Wild West, the visuals include gritty elements, with vast amounts of desert, old wooden buildings and items scattered around as if a shakedown just happened. These elements look realistic and impressive in Weird West, and it really makes you feel like you are stepping into a saloon or exploring a real abandoned mine.

The audio is great as well, reflecting the emptiness of the Wild West when you step into abandoned locations, or the small hustle you would find in a small town/trading post. Paired with the graphics, it really feels like an old Western film.

The level of detail can work against the game. Items can be small and hard to find, with the interface preventing you from noticing that items are there because they are either on the ground or something is in front, forcing you to position yourself awkwardly just to get access to an item (if it even is an item).

You also have a few bugs that are not game-breaking, but certainly snap you out of the experience because you know that wouldn’t normally happen. Something as simple as two people passing by each other is a struggle for the game, or enemies/characters suddenly jumping in height and are now harder to reach.

That horse didn't get up on the roof on its own.

That horse didn’t get up on the roof on its own.

Aside from the occasional glitch, the game’s audio and visuals work well together to form the atmosphere, giving you an old Western experience you won’t soon forget.

Summary
Weird West’s combination of the Wild West mythos with dark fantasy elements brings together an enjoyable RPG experience. Being able to forge your own path through the world with your actions and combat is a fun and enjoyable experience. While there are some noticeable flaws, Weird West does a great job of giving you the tools you make to create your own legend in the West.
Good
  • Five characters let you see the Wild West through different eyes
  • Combat is fast-paced and flexible
  • Your choices matter, letting you build your unique experience
Bad
  • Ally AI doesn’t make intelligent decisions
  • Some story elements can be repetitive
  • There are a few bugs that need to be worked out
8
Great
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