Evil West

wicked western review

wicked western review


need for speed

what is it? A role-playing game set in the Wild West where vampires are rampant.
expect to pay $50/£43
developer flying boar
publisher focus entertainment
Reviewed on RTX 2070, i7-10750H, 16GB RAM
multiplayer game? 2 players
associate Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Jesse Rentier is a no-nonsense man of action; a stubble beef who sees every situation in black and white. He’s the kind of guy who keeps reminding you that he’s not a desk-pushing pencil, as if you can’t even look at him and tell he’s not even struggling to hold a pencil without breaking it in half. In other words, he is neither refined nor imaginative, but he is determined, focused and capable of great violence. The same applies to the description of the evil west.

In an alternate late-1800s America, Jesse is a top field agent for the family-owned Rentier Institute, an organization formed to fight the vampire scourge that has been eating cowboys since the Founding Fathers. Given the sun-fearing nature of his enemies, a midday shootout is out of the question here, so Jesse sets out on an expedition to hunt down and crush the vampires, along with their pet werewolves and other abominations they create. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that, explained in cutscenes between the game’s 16 missions, but fighting the undead is always your primary concern.

(Image source: Focus Entertainment)

In fact, Evil West took a “move on” approach throughout. The main path connecting the game’s battlefields is marked with a glowing silver chain, keeping you oriented while you indulge in some pretty light exploration, ducking into semi-hidden side passages for small treasures. Some levels are more adventurous with open, branching and looping sections, sometimes you have to find a lever before you can move forward, or push a minecart, or move some scenery with your rifle, but few of them work as puzzles In some ways, it’s a blessing because Wicked West isn’t as bloated as God of War, but it also feels unambitious.

This conservatism also affects The Flying Pigs’ perception of the West, which, aside from some striking scenery, is eerily colorless, let alone corny. For example, the salon in front of the institute’s base is filled with stock-image (white) cowboys and courtesans, and the “Indians” appear only in passing references to their mysterious lore. Add in Jesse’s distaste for intellectual expertise, one-liners like “Welcome to America” ​​when defeating an enemy, and the role of a government official representing the nation’s corruption, and the proceedings feel a bit politically retrograde. The dialogue doesn’t add nuance, either, as characters yell at each other in sentences full of cringe-worthy expletives. The intention is to evoke the vibe of an ’80s macho action movie, but it’s an awkward homage.

(Image source: Focus Entertainment)

attack and battery

Fortunately, Evil West is more than capable on the battlefield. Its monsters are terrifying, and Jesse has a lot of skill, or at least a metal gauntlet to add weight to his fists. Regular hits can knock even some of the biggest critters out of the way, while charged uppercuts launch smaller critters high into the air, where you might follow up with a “cannonball” smash that sends the victim flying towards its partner or Stackable TNT boxes for convenient placement. But at the same time, Jesse is also a shooter, and the game oscillates between shootouts and brawls, often in the same encounter. Some enemies have weaknesses that are only revealed when they’re done attacking, and if you’re attacking fast, you can punish them before they make a move.

You end up with so many options, it’s hard to remember all of them while constantly dodging and parrying.

Boxing and shooting can only get you so far, however, and throughout Jesse’s excursions, he builds up an arsenal that could equip an entire army of Marines. Charges attached to the gauntlet allow you to magnetically electrocute enemies, then drag them towards you, and vice versa, allowing you to yank one out of a swarm of undead and beat it up before the others reach , or use ranged enemies as grab points to stay out of danger. Soon you’ll have a shotgun, the first in a series of weapons and equipment that will work on cooldown timers and help with crowd control. You end up with so many options, it’s hard to remember all of them while constantly dodging and parrying.

Complexity should become second nature, though, as Evil West prompts you to deploy everything in order to survive. Vampires and their companions, some of them very large, charge at you from all directions, so you’ll have to keep moving, stun them with electric shocks and keep your trigger finger tickling. Then, as more powerful creatures emerge and the scale of the battle escalates, you indulge in a one-on-one fight, pulling out the cannon in an accelerated arms race until one side runs out of energy. You can’t help but smile when you nearly lose your health at the end of the rumble, but you know you’ve saved the last of your supercharged finishers, electrocuting the last stubborn vamp to pieces.

(Image source: Focus Entertainment)

It’s sometimes surprising how much Evil West throws at you, and it’s frustrating because of the sheer number. Generally speaking, you tend to feel when an off-screen enemy is coming hard from behind, but sometimes you’ll be caught off guard by an unreasonable concentration of attacks, or you won’t be able to clearly aim at a weak spot because there’s something in the way. Too much traffic. Also, while performance is far from shoddy, explosions and particle effects can occasionally kill framerates, while rare glitches can leave Jesse irreparably stuck on the floor, or leave monsters floating in the air.

Those hiccups aside, though, for the majority of the game, Wicked West combat remains robust, bloody fun, bordering on fantastic at times. It doesn’t start to fade until the final third, as the vampires run out of new creatures to throw at you, instead regrouping familiar ugly faces and nausea. Well, with the final battle looming, you might want to be able to “move on” more quickly. At least by then Jesse had learned a thing or two. Maybe if there’s a sequel, he’ll combine his proficiency in vampire hunting with his desire for a richer, more complex world.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.