Evil West Review – Bloody fun that feels like the old west
The Wild West was always a dangerous place. If disease, outlaws or rattlesnakes didn’t get you, dysentery would eventually come knocking at your door eventually. With Evil West, developed by Flying Wild Hog, you also had another thing to worry about; Vampires. Go figure.
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Publisher: Focus on entertainment
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series
Release date: 22 November 2022
The story of the wicked west
Let’s just get this out of the way first, the story is very stupid. IN Wicked West, you play as Jesse Rentier. A scarred, greedy cowboy, heir to the Rentier Institute, and seasoned hunter of the occult. We meet Jesse as he and longtime family friend Edgar Gravenor prepare to apprehend a vampire by derailing the train he’s on.
Their purpose? Using this vampire to break a highborn vampire’s glamour. This highborn, Peter D’Abano, sees humanity as a growing threat to the existence of vampires. Our technology is growing at an alarming rate and our numbers far outnumber theirs. Then, when we find Peter, we see him trying to unite the other highborn lords for an all-out war against humanity.
Evil West’s story is full of moments you’d expect, and it’s mildly entertaining. It’s about as fun as any action movie would have been, and Jesse is a likable protagonist. What you see is what you get Wicked West, and that’s not a bad thing if you don’t think too much about it. You’re just supposed to saddle up and have fun beating up vampires, which the story achieves quite flawlessly here.
Cutting Edge Tech to Kick Vampiric Butt
Like the old west, gameplay in Wicked West is simple and hearkens back to the days of older action-adventure games. Players will traverse the game’s linear level design, killing a wide variety of monsters, leveling up, and occasionally taking detours for money, goodies, and other collectibles. Sometimes there can even be a big bad boss at the end of the level.
As players progress through the game and level up, they gain access to new weapons, technology, and perks. There are quite a few perks to unlock as well that will strengthen Jesse better. Perks are unlocked with points earned by leveling up and range from simple things like a wider pickup radius to unlocking new special attacks.
Using “Bucks”, the game’s version of money, players can increase the utility of your weapons. One of the weapons players earn earlier in the game is the cowboy’s trusty shotgun. It’s great for close range encounters and breaking through enemy shields. Just like every shotgun in every video game ever, ammo is limited and reloading is slow. However, by using the money you’ve collected throughout the game, you can expand your ammo capacity, allowing for more destruction.
Jesse himself is a force of nature
However, Jesse Rentier is not limited to just his technology. The Rentier Institute may be known for its cutting-edge technology, Wicked West is primarily a game that relies on close combat. With a silver gauntlet, players go toe-to-toe with hordes of vampires, reserving their weapons for more situational use.
Enemies can be shot upwards with a powerful uppercut using the gauntlet. This attack can then either be followed up with a powerful punch that sends them flying or juggling the revolver. The glove is also equipped with a shield that allows the user to both pull and run towards enemies. This also surprises them, setting them up for a quick, vicious combo.
Blocking is also not the only way to counter attacks. The long rifle is excellent for dealing with ranged enemies, but it can also counter ranged attacks. If players can aim and fire at an enemy’s exposed weak point, indicated by a circle, they can deal massive damage. By pressing the stick, players can also perform a kick that interrupts a highlighted enemy’s melee attack. Interrupting these attacks also opens up quick beatings.
There are just a lot of effective ways for players to deal with enemies and it’s just a lot of fun. Wicked Westits arsenal of cool gadgets given to players and how they are used is the best thing about the game. When it comes down to it, there’s nothing quite like dragging a chin across the screen and laying into it with the colossal steampunk gauntlet.
Look and feel like you’re in the old west too
Performance is where I experienced most of my issues Wicked West. Focus Entertainment was kind enough to give me a code for Steam, but I ran into a lot of problems on PC. “Questionable Load”, the very first level was plagued by framerate issues, broken tutorials, environments that didn’t load properly, and some enemies that didn’t spawn.
Cleaning out my drivers and adjusting settings helped, but many of the issues still persisted. We ended up getting a PS5 code and I played the rest of the game there. With the game set to performance mode, I had very few problems. Everything felt like it was working as it should with enemies spawning correctly, tutorials appearing in the right places and very few framerate issues.
The main problem with the console versions is that you really have to favor one setting over the other. If you want it to look nicer, Quality mode can give you the 4K vibe you’re looking for, but expect a slower frame rate with some drops. Performance mode will deliver 60FPS, but it really doesn’t do the game’s graphics any justice.
The sound quality was also an issue in my playthrough. Weapons sound excellent, but other sound effects and voice acting are off. NPCs sound like their lines were recorded with, say, a toy microphone you buy at the dollar store. As if they are in some kind of void with metallic walls.
Should you join the Rentier Institute in the Evil West?
There’s been a recent trend of smaller budget games that harken back to a previous generation of games – reminding us of older games like God of War where we hacked and slashed our way through linear, gory levels. IN Wicked Wests case, it took me back to the occult, steampunk shooter Darkwatch developed by High Moon Studios. This trend really helps me appreciate what gaming used to be, before it evolved into what it is today.
Although it has some issues, Evil West is a fun playset. While it’s not a first-person shooter like Darkwatch, it still has a strong steampunk and western horror vibe. The vampiric hordes of the Wild West are no match for Jesse Rentier as long as you can get past the performance issues.
Review Disclosure Statement: Wicked West was delivered to us by Focus on entertainment for assessment purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please see our Review guidelines/point scores for more info.
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Evil West review
Evil West’s biggest problems are the technical issues. The game is incredibly fun, but it’s plagued by performance issues and just feels dated with simple level design.
- Great beat ’em up action.
- Cowboys v. Vampires is better than Cowboys v. Aliens.
- Fun selection of gadgets, weapons and upgrades.
- Lots of upgrades to unlock.
- Feels dated.
- Performance issues.
- Simple level design.