The Wild West was a bloody period in America’s history, but it was also a time of myths and legends. Devolver Digital wants to add to that mythology with their game Weird West, which has recently been released on Game Pass. So let’s take a delve into the weird and wonderful world of the Wild Wonderful West.
Weird West is a strange game to describe, at least in terms of genre. The game paints itself like a return to the classic RPG’s like Fallout and a Baldur’s Gate style adventure game. However, there is more to it than your average run and gun and there are few mechanics that take some getting used to.
The main story revolves around Jane Bell, a retired bounty hunter whose family is attacked and her husband taken. However, this kidnapping is more than just a random act of violence. Jane takes up her old gear and mantle to find her missing husband and in doing so, finds herself up against corrupt politicians and the mysterious sirens. The plot takes a while to get moving and the more fantastical elements take a while to reveal themselves. There is plenty of lore and backstory for players to sink their teeth into, however, there is one issue. The problem is that players are not informed of anything in-game. For instance, the first time I saw a character turn into a monster it was taken as normal by the characters but I hadn’t been informed. It is a small thing, but it does make the player feel somewhat disconnected from events and the world on occasion.
However, one of the strengths of the game is the characters that the players meet. As Jane explores the world she will meet a variety of different people, each with their own goals and ambitions. Each of them helps to add to the world and the contrast between the more mundane and the mystical help to mitigate the prior negative point regarding the plot. However, there is an issue with the actual dialogue in the game. The writing is fantastic, but there is a lack of voice-acted lines and much of it can be missed if the player isn’t paying attention. I will say that the lines that are voiced are done so well, it is just a shame that there isn’t more.
Gameplay is where this all becomes interesting and there is certainly a lot to unpack here. First things first, the actual combat and how it works. Players control Jane and have an over the head view of the world. Jane can move, roll and jump, but her most important skill is shooting. Jane has several weapon slots that can be taken up by pistols, rifles, shotguns, explosives and melee weapons. The shooting makes use of a line of sight that takes the form of a white line when the player presses the button. This line indicates where the shot will travel and the cursor is the final destination. Jane can also unlock several special skills based on her weapons and these can be used to turn the tide of combat. There is also stealth where she can sneak and silently remove threats as well as environmental kills. In essence, the player has numerous options to deal with enemies and they all work well, although there is a bit of an issue in telling if something is in the way of your shot and hitting the smaller lamps to light fires is a bit tricky.
The other part of gameplay has to do with the RPG mechanics for the game and how they work. Essentially the player can make choices based on their situation and can elect to complete tasks how they choose. The conversation options are limited in all fairness and there isn’t a feeling of creating your character in Jane. This isn’t a big issue per se, after all, most games don’t allow you much control over the character, but more options to craft Jane into your character would have been appreciated. Other than that, players will need to complete quests and bounties to earn money and gather equipment to deal with more powerful threats as they progress. The only issue is that there isn’t any variety to a lot of these, the bounties especially can become quite tedious. However, the addition of enemies hunting you down for revenge does help to make the player feel like they are making an impact on the world.
Weird West is not a visually impressive game, this kind of design makes that difficult, to be honest. The camera angle and distance mean that any small details can be easily missed and the characters all start to look similar. However, what is there works and some of the creature designs are well done enough that they are entertaining to see and fight. One interesting design choice is that the areas of the map are made to look like pages on a map when reaching the edge and give an almost storybook-like quality to the game. Finally, the music is one of the weakest aspects, it fits with the theme and period, but nothing stands out.
Weird West is a game with a lot of different pieces, and thankfully the majority of them fit. There are some issues, but overall there is a lot here for players to enjoy. If you are looking for something a little different and a little odd then this is the game for you.
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