Weird West is a Far Cry From Your Father’s Western Films

Sheriffs, outlaws and bounty hunters are all familiar western tropes, but what about cannibals, werewolves, witches and pigmen? Weird West is the latest game to tackle this classic genre. It blends in supernatural horror and RPG elements to craft the most immersive western experience since Red Dead Redemption II. While this indie gem lacks the cinematic qualities of a Rockstar game, it’s the freedom of choice and subverting plotlines that make it so memorable. This is not the western your dad so fondly remembers, but a fresh interpretation for modern audiences.

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Weird West tells five sequential stories, all linked by an overarching narrative. There’s a retired bounty hunter avenging her family, A first nation hunter embodied by a spirit, an occultist with visions of the future, a werewolf fulfilling a prophecy and a half man half pig creature looking for answers.

Over the hours, each hero/monstrosity becomes your playable character with unique traits and abilities who all roam a shared frontier where previous decisions permanently affect the world. So, for example, should you decide to wipe out the entire population of a settlement as the bounty hunter, that town remains deserted for the remainder of the game, albeit making it easier to loot and lockpick your way through. But you’ll lose some trading options, and potential side content along the way.

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Weird West takes cues from classic RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and the original Fallout games before the series went first-person. It retains the isometric camera perspective, but updates controls to work as a twin-stick shooter, replacing the simplistic point-and-click format.

Like all good RPGs, you’re given significant freedoms to play out this adventure in any way you see fit. Sneak through enemy territories or go guns blazing. Purchase better weapons from a vendor or risk it all by breaking into their store at night and stealing the gear.

Stealth is my approach of choice. I take immense satisfaction in working through an area, stealing gear, causing deaths that look like accidents and exiting without a trace that I was there.

Of course, choice plays a part in each character’s narrative. Early on, in the bounty hunter’s story, there’s a mayor with crucial information, but his price is the deed to a nearby farmstead. You could sneak in and steal the deed or murder the residents and take it. Or dig deep into the mayor’s estate, discover his deepest secrets and use them to blackmail him for the information, leaving the nearby farm in peace.

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There’s a reputation system affecting decisions, so should you go guns blazing all the time, just know that outlaws and townsfolk alike won’t tolerate excessive bad behaviour.

Weird West does away with the traditional XP system and favours new skills and upgrades via collectables. Hidden throughout the world are Golden Ace playing cards and Relics used to upgrade abilities.

Having a system of hidden items over traditional XP means you can reap the benefits regardless of playstyle. Sneak through towns, mines and estates, avoiding combat and receive the same benefits as someone who shoots every enemy dead.

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You can recruit two additional party members at any given time to form a posse and assist with all combat encounters. Hire mercenaries early on, but for later stories, it’s possible to hire the former playable characters equipped with the gear and skills you attributed to them earlier in the adventure.

However, party members can die in permanently. This won’t matter much for random sidekicks. Simply hire another. But those former playable characters with their mad skills and sentimental attachments can fall in battle, and it’s devastating. This is arguably the most tempting reason to reload the last save in an attempt at a do-over.

Weird West carries an authentic western soundtrack with voiced narration from a Sam Elliot-sounding type. It’s a shame that all of the prominent characters aren’t treated the same. There’s no voice acting beyond the narration, and conversations appear as text on screen. This is likely attributed to budgetary restraints more than anything.

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Weird West comes from WolfEye Studios, a new developer consisting of industry veterans behind acclaimed titles, including Dishonored and Prey. I’m still working my way through their debut title after putting in around 20 hours. There’s no shortage of towns to visit, graves to rob and bounties to collect.

You’ll either progress through each story naturally or be like me and experience FOMO and explore every nook and cranny early on, streamlining the possibilities later. But like all good RPGs, there are plenty of reasons to revisit the west, tackling things differently and seeing the many ways they can play out.

WolfEye is releasing a bunch of free content packs throughout the coming months in the form of time-limited events, new modes and mods. The first event, The Plague, adds zombies to Weird West, and it’s available now. So whether you’re an early adopter or still weighing up your options, there are plenty of reasons to keep this indie gem installed long after the credits roll. Weird West is available now on PC, PlayStation and Xbox.

The writer received a copy of the game courtesy of the publisher

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Michael Vane

Michael Vane is an experienced journalist, copywriter and content creator who has produced fun and informative content for Man of Many since 2016. Specialising in gaming, technology and entertainment reporting, Michael is extremely adept at navigating new technologies and providing reviews on the latest releases. He possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Media Studies from Griffith University, and his work has been featured in publications such as Game Informer, Pilot, Wine Selectors and PowerUp!, to name a few.