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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 July 2024

Messy, magical guns of gore

Name: Weird West by Wolfeye Studios Genre: Immersive-Sim Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, and Steam

Aritra Mukhopadhyay Published 24.06.24, 07:05 AM

Think of the Wild West: sheriffs, gunslingers, cowboys, wind whistling through the empty deserts, and quaint towns with bustling saloons. Now add some dark fantasy, magic, werewolves and witches to the mix, and you have the world of Weird West.

The world itself is fascinating and begs for exploration. On top of that, having the genius of ex Dishonored and Prey developers makes it quite an exciting game, which is what initially drew me to it. The idea of an immersive-sim set in the Dark Wild West seemed unmissable to me.

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Weird West has a unique set-up. There are five journeys for you to play through, each with their unique abilities, weapons, skill trees and stories (connected by an overarching story that has its moments). While they are to be played in a specific order, the decisions and actions you take in a journey always have ripple effects throughout the other journeys. These effects range from a town’s ruling faction changing, to characters remembering you for your deeds, good and bad.

This brings me to the game’s unique vendetta system, where each character in the game can become your staunch ally or sworn enemy. They then pop up in opportune moments, with allies coming to save you from sticky situations such as a shootout gone wrong, and enemies showing up when you’d least want another obstacle in your path.

Moreover, your previous playable character from each journey is also part of the vendetta system, adding a sort of meta-narrative to the gameplay. They can also become a companion in the player’s current journey. This lets the player form an intrinsically driven connection with the game’s world and people.

Weird West’s moment-to-moment gameplay is pretty much what you would expect out of an immersive-sim. It prioritises player freedom in terms of gameplay above all, striving as much as possible to never say “no” to the player. Each objective and activity has a variety of ways to go about it, from stealth to being a guns-blazing cowboy. You can even manipulate the environment, with every object in the game being interactable and moveable. The game is experienced through a top-down perspective, almost functioning as a dual stick shooter during its combat.

This game does not have a typical open world. Instead, you have a world map you can choose destinations on, with each of these destinations being explorable first-hand and offering side activities like bounties.

On the way to these destinations, you can run into random encounters, which range from story events to ambushes and traders. This is where the disconnect of the game presented itself, with locations sometimes feeling like repeats of each other, and there being little way to differentiate between them apart from the biome they belonged to.

VERDICT: If you’re looking for a twin stick shooter that pretty much lets you do whatever to achieve your goals, Weird West will amaze you, despite a somewhat lacklustre narrative. I rate it a seven out of 10.

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