Weird West Review
I grew up watching a lot of westerns. Steely-eyed men in wide-brimmed hats making impossible shots? Dusty towns full of tumbleweeds? Extras falling off balconies? All of that and more! Weird West draws deep from these stories, adding a fistful of monstrous horrors for good measure. The fights are both fast-paced and deliberate, with both stealth and screaming violence equally viable options. While I ran into a hitch or two on the way, I still had a great time exploring this brutal world of six shooters and serrated fangs.
Your story is actually five interconnected tales. Each hero fills out a bit more of the larger narrative, shedding light on this world’s nasty secrets. Murder, blackmail, ritual sacrifice, and sinister witchcraft all feature heavily. Every worldbuilding element looks and feels awesome, though I wasn’t always grabbed by the actual story. Right from the beginning, there’s an emotional disconnect. Your first tale starts with a family member murdered in cold blood. You don’t seem too broken up by this. It’s weird! Maybe I’m expecting too much from a mostly silent protagonist, but a reaction of some sort would have been nice.
Tales of Bloody Vengeance
In this case, actions speak louder than words. Rather than visibly grieving, you get right to bloody revenge. As a matter of fact, you can kill more or less whoever you feel like. There are consequences of course, but they’re more practical than ethical. Your reputation can get better or worse, and survivors might strike out for revenge. Also, if you kill off an entire town, someone else might move into the ruins. Maybe someone more unsavory than the old inhabitants. Honestly, I’d much rather deal with practical consequences in games. Leave the moral quandaries to the preachers and the poets, you know?
Like all good gunfights, combat in Weird West moves lightning quick. It’s all too easy for a fight to go sideways, which makes the quick save function absolutely essential. Regular enemies go down quick, but so do you. Thankfully, you’ve always got options. If pure firepower isn’t working, why not try stealth? Or better yet, light something on fire. Nothing like a little arson to turn the tide your way. You’ve also got special abilities to lean on, as well as a slightly clumsy slow motion function. If you can manage to hit anything, you’re good to go.
Normally I’m all about console controls. There’s just something about an actual gamepad that feels essential to the experience. Weird West feels like that rare exception, at least when it comes to aiming. Your mileage may vary, but I found aiming with the right stick a serious challenge. Using special abilities also had me fondly dreaming of a full keyboard. There’s just one too many shoulder buttons to hold down for my liking. It’s not impossible by any means. You just might want to keep that in mind when picking your platform, is all.
My troubles with stealth aren’t as bound by my choice of platform. I’ve never been a big fan of stealth sections, and I’m always bitter being forced into the role. Thankfully you’re almost never forced to be stealthy in Weird West, but when you are? Just a bad time all around. The one big problem is the quick save function. The AI pathing resets after every time you load, so you can trap yourself in a sticky mess without ever meaning to do so. This means the best way through a stealth challenge is to do it all in one go, which gets exhausting. Because of this, I avoided sneaking about unless I absolutely had to.
Stealth As A Last Resort
Stealth is just one of the many tools you’re provided with that I avoided ever using. Each character has a host of special abilities that can theoretically turn the tide of battle. But none of them were as useful to me as strategy and positioning. Placing yourself properly, with cover and line of sight accounted for, made a giant difference in battle. Revolver, rifle, and melee skills were nice, but they couldn’t keep you alive if you wandered into six dudes with shotguns. Much better to study the terrain, learn the enemy’s patterns, and methodically wipe them all out.
The beautiful thing about Weird West is also what makes it critically impenetrable. At least for me, my enjoyment of the game is tied to my particular playstyle. If you’re more ruthless with NPCs, if you’re more stealth-focused, or if you’re more patient, this is a very different game. So my frustration with the stealth is a sign to sneak around less. If I’m unhappy with the story, I can always change how it ends. Conversely, the movement and aiming controls are a tangible way of making your platforming choice. If you’re looking for a western RPG with this sort of blissful, overwhelming freedom, you’ve come to the right place. For better or for worse, Weird West has that freedom.
***A PS4 code was provided by the publisher***
- Compelling setting
- Exciting combat
- Room to experiment
- Stealth sections suck
- Narrative lacks gravity
- Clunky console controls