WEIRD West as a genre is basically a supernatural take on the Wild West as we know it. It’s not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination – Alone In The Dark 3 was using it as a setting back in 1994, and there’s strong elements of the genre in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series from before that, and more recently there’s been the game Hard West – but it’s a genre with plenty of storytelling potential and it’s good to see more games using it.
The game Weird West, developed by WolfEye Studios (which include a number of former Arkane team members) and published by Devolver for PC and consoles early next year (currently January 11th) is basically a surreal action RPG taking place in, well, the weird west.
I’ve had a chance to play the opening campaign, where you steep into the boots of Jane Bell, a bounty hunter searching for her kidnapped husband and the people who murdered her son. Oh, and the entities responsible are shape-shifting cannibals.
The game is viewed from a third-person perspective reminiscent of things like the recent Wasteland games¸ but the camera is freely rotatable and combat is in real-time rather than turn based.
It works really well on PC (the preview platform) though – it takes a second to get used to the camera and controls, but then it comes together nicely; like a keyboard-and-mouse interpretation of twin-stick shooter controls.
The main branch of the chapter can be finished in 4-5 hours or so, but there’s a few side quests etc to pad things out.
What I played balanced the action with the RPG side of things quite well – as a fan of the OG Fallout games and the recent Wasteland games I was very comfortable with the general presentation, although the RPG aspects of the game are more upgrading abilities with special items found in-game (basically RPG-light) rather than levelling up and adding a few points to a specific character skill (as in a traditional CRPG).
The game is still in development so while the basic mechanics and questlines were in place, it wasn’t a complete game by any stretch – for example, you can recruit members to your posse who clearly have a story of their own, but for the purposes of the preview they felt like extra guns and damage sponges for the most part.
The preview of Weird West certainly had the basis of an interesting and atmospheric game, with a range of weapons and easy switching between them via an intuitive weapon wheel system.
I liked the combat and aesthetic but feel I need to play more of the game to get a better handle on the whole experience – what I played was good but unremarkable for the most part, probably because it didn’t really get into a huge amount of the “Weird” aspect of the whole Weird West thing, although there were elements present and hints of far more to come.
There’s a lot of promise there, and the game hints and some dark and intriguing elements, so I’m certainly looking forward to playing the full game once it launches.