REVIEW – Arkane Studios founder Raphael Colantonio tried to venture into immersive simulators with his studio’s first game. Still, the camera angle used, which is considered a top-down view instead of an interior view, turned out a little different from Dishonored. It’s safe to call it weird, not just because of the game’s title.
Valletta is the future, and Weird West is… somewhat piggy.
No, don’t think of anything adult here (this isn’t that type of game… if you prefer that, be my guest). In Weird West, you have these siren cannibals, and pig-men welded together in a twisty-weird way in a supernatural wild west (am I the only one who’s reminded of Duke Nukem 3D?). It gets better when you switch between characters as you reach specific points in the story. With this ever-changing simulator twist, WolfEye Studios’ game forces us to learn how to handle the other point of view correctly, as there are different traits, abilities, and many factions in the world, and we have to choose our place among them. But it won’t always be the same because there is also minor procedural content creation. No, it’s not the main story elements that are randomized. It’s the side missions that have been given this direction so that you can experiment. And you should, because whatever you do, WolfEye is not kidding: every action has a consequence. It’s not as superficial as in many other games—for instance, the earlier iteration of Telltale. You might have an X will remember that message on the screen, only for this character to die almost immediately. I recall such a scenario from The Walking Dead.
Is this smaller town empty? Maybe you shouldn’t have shot everyone in the neighbourhood. Oops, did some new factions or other opponents show up in their place? Well, that’s on us too: they would have liked not to shoot everyone. But that could be interpreted as a positive spin, too. If we help someone out in a sticky situation, they might come to fight alongside us at an unexpected time later. Still, if we don’t eliminate a gang completely (every person must bite the bullet), they might seek revenge and get ground down by a more serious resistance later. If we don’t cross others (sticking to ethics), we won’t have every NPC out to get us (it takes a special kind of stupid to make everyone hostile). And speaking of hunting, it’s a twin-stick shooter. Skills can be upgraded by collecting and using Nimp Relics, and of course, you can take out your opponents with the help of hidden objects in the environment. These can make combat quite fair if it doesn’t last too long. If it’s shorter, it’s good, as silly as that sounds, but I’m highlighting it for a reason because what’s a positive now can be a negative as soon as you get to the second page.
The problem is when we struggle too long. In short fights, we don’t have to take cover very much, but we have to resort to it in the longer term, which means we realize that the system is too simple. If there’s a rock that we think is low enough to shoot over, we know we’ve ended up unloading a ton of ammo in the stone because it’s still too high, well, you can swear. After all, that can be not very pleasant. But then, there’s the way our opponents try to attack from the other direction, which causes us to get a leg up. It results in an almost Benny Hill level of running around, while we can perhaps also say a few unsearchable words to the AI on our side because I have seen them run through the oil on fire more than once, without a word, and throw up their feet. If you’re playing on PlayStation 4, be prepared for some unstable frame rates (this game isn’t for the new consoles!) and even a graphics bug or two. You won’t always notice this, as you’ll need to be mindful of limited resources (because you need to hunt, eat and rest), but you can travel and camp anywhere on the game map. That being said, don’t waste too much because it will severely impact you in a short time. You can sneak around and quietly knock out your opponents; bury your opponents, lock doors, or even let nature help you if you’re patient. But not everyone will like that. However, I still think that the studio set the bar too high (too high of scope, not enough resources at hand) because the ideas are good, but the execution didn’t add up. The (randomly generated, e.g. mines, towns) locations are average, so even if the background story is detailed (I might go as far and say that this aspect is likely the best in the entire game!), it will stand out.
Weird West gets a seven out of ten because the butterfly effect (how does one action change the world?) is excellent, the locations and side missions are forgettable, and the AI can be foolish on our side. And the long fights are something to yawn at. So for all these reasons, it couldn’t get an eight out of ten, even though it deserves one. Apart from that, Weird West is a fair game. But it cannot get a score higher than that.
+ The player gets a massive amount of freedom
+ Every action has a consequence
+ Great, detailed storyline
– The combat gets tedious quickly
– Side content and locations can be forgettable
– Artificial intelligence…
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: WolfEye Studios
Genre: Action-RPG, twin-stick shooter
Release date: March 31, 2022