Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Wolf Eye Studio
Weird West is Wolf Eye Studio’s first game, and certainly a pretty solid foot in the door. The isometric top-down view is a tried and true method to give you a good overview of what’s going on while still getting stable control of your character. Combat and motion feel smooth as I could imagine them being, and while dialogue isn’t voiced, the writing is quality enough (with a few exceptions, mentioned below) to keep your attention held if you like a good story. Some minor complaints exist with the game, mostly in quality of life controls, but all in all, Weird West is a good game as well as a good time.
The first thing you’ll see launching into the game is the nice camera angle you may be familiar with from other isometric video games (think Diablo or Hades). The art style isn’t anything particularly unique or stand-out, but the cel-shading style employed certainly makes objects and people pop out in the environment. Most of the environments (especially in the earlier game) are about what you’d expect from a western game. Plenty of sand and cactus and wood buildings all around, but the atmosphere is more interesting in some places as you progress.
Action in-game takes place on smaller map segments that aren’t immediately connected in a perceivable way, but rather you navigate by reaching the edge or end of the area and traveling using an overworld map. There is a lot to explore while going through the map, and since the “open world” isn’t one gigantic map, there are a lot of opportunities taken by the game to throw a curveball in your travels by sucking you into random encounter arenas with unique layouts depending on the enemies or NPCs. Not all are bad, but you have to always be ready for a fight.
Where I think Weird West really excels is in its Combat. Moving between cover, shooting, and throwing equipment is as smooth an experience as one could probably hope to achieve in an isometric game. Sprinting, sliding, and jumping through obstacles and buildings in the combat area provides a lot of opportunities to make combat work to your advantage in your own way. Approaching any group of enemies is always a practice in problem-solving. Observe from afar and learn enemy patterns before moving in, take a stealthy approach, or just go in guns blazing- entirely up to the player how you want to approach. Every style is supported by various upgrades and skills as well as with choice encounters you may not get by going in hog-wild.
Different approaches generate whole different paths for the world to move, and choosing to save someone may be the thing that ends up saving your own life in a future fight. Don’t kill all the enemies fast enough and you’ll end up generating rivals who vow to kill you and make your life more difficult. Weird West is teaching me that no survivors is the right path and you may think that sounds concerning, it’s making the game much easier down the line.
Writing quality varies over time and location, but on the whole, it feels good and caught my attention pretty well. The primary story path’s writing is all very good and memorable, but I couldn’t really at any point shake off the one thing that caught my attention early on. At the very beginning of the game, Jane’s (the first character) story building that gives the “why” to her adventure feels particularly weak. She walks out of her house to an announcement that her son and dog have been killed and her husband was kidnapped. Perfectly understandable reasoning for her to take up the revenge path, but for some reason, there just feels like no reaction whatsoever comes from her son’s death. His corpse is right next to the house, and you can bury him as well as the dog by his side, but Weird West neither really tells you to do so, nor gives any real reaction whatsoever to this event.
Aside from that one point of contention, I did really enjoy the writing as mentioned. I had a good time playing through all of the characters? stories and didn’t have any other things that hit me in such a noticeably out-of-place way as the previously noted moment, so I can accept one off moment in a sea of otherwise excellent quality. Weird West was one of the more unique experiences I’ve had in a game in a while, so I certainly can’t hate it when the rest is there in such a heavy-hitting way.
Note: Devolver Digital provided us with a Weird West PS4 code for review purposes.