Evil West is a throwback to the classic melee brawlers that includes a hysterical storyline, great dialogue and a variety in combat similar to God/Gears of War. A game that does everything it does do well and uses its strengths to set itself apart.
Release date – November 22, 2022 Developer – Flying Wild Hog Publisher – Focus Entertainment Platforms – PC, PlayStation, Xbox
Evil West is the newest action-adventure title from Flying Wild Hogs. It is a throwback to the classic, blast from the past games with a linear level design and third-person gameplay. With inspiration clearly drawn from Gears of War and God of War, Evil West will leave you looking for some wipes in order to wipe the machismo oozing off your console. Ahhh, the good ole’ days of gaming.
The game takes place at the end of the 19th century in the Wild West. Picture Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer put to a video game setting. Ole’ cowboys are the law of the land, saloons are all over the place and vampires are surprisingly all over the place. There were a lot of comparisons in my head during my gameplay of the Marvel movie Blade, but in the ole’ west. We play as Jesse Rentier, a man that is as cowboy as cowboy can be. As part of the Rentier institute, Jesse is tasked with wiping out vampires wherever they may pop up.
There is a lot more story than I expected there to be. A total of 16 missions are included with an ample amount of cutscenes. The dialogue is hysterical and exactly what you would expect from an ole’ west game. Everything is “fuck this” and “fuck that”, but of course it flows with the game as every time they drop the f bomb it’s perfectly placed in humor. The main antagonist is of course a vampire, and he has a decent back story. While vampire baddies can be repetitive, this one is a fresh take as he’s more of a bad guy also to the bad guys so I appreciated the originality there. In addition, there’s a lot of lore to discover to help tie together the cutscenes too. The funniest part is something I’ve never seen before. Being the ole’ west, there is a lot of dialogue and words you may not know. The collectibles you find act as a dictionary and thesaurus as they break down the meaning of some of these crazy words the characters come out with. I laughed when I saw that as it’s the first time I’ve seen something of the sort. The silliness of having a dictionary lore ties into the game’s overall sense of humor and it would have had a hard time of working in any other game.
Jesse will be traveling all over western America in order to take out these vampires. We’ll start to kick ass in dark and desolate caves, run down western towns, forests, oil fields, etc. To be honest, I was surprised at how beautiful the environments were. The sunny skies and background lighting were incredible. Ironically, the explorable part of the level wasn’t always as consistent. Much of the levels tended to be repetitive with the main difference being in the background. None of this was game breaking in any way, but it was noticeable as games historically have tended to the opposite focus with the background being less detailed than the foreground. On the whole, the world looks absolutely fantastic.
As part of the Renter institute, Jesse is at the front of all kinds of technological gadgets used to take out the vampires. You’ll begin with a giant gauntlet attached to your right arm. Shortly after you get a pistol and rifle. Moving on, weapons can be upgraded along with other weapons located such as flame throwers and shotguns. Beginning with basic melee combos, Jesse can knock a vampire up in the air with his gauntlet, take a few pistol shots, uppercut back up in the air then shotgun his ass across the screen. The amount of combos was honestly surprising and left no shortage of smiles and laughs on my face with how ridiculous they were. Those that have played Gears and God of War games will notice the similarities.
Healing is done on a timed basis and requires a cool down during use. There is no limit to how many times you can heal, so long as you’ve waited long enough. Health pickups do drop sparingly as well. The combat is super-fast and tedious. Smashing buttons won’t see you accomplishing much of anything short of dying either. The best part of Evil West is how it forces you to incorporate all of the provided weapons. Taking out vampires sends body parts flying, heads smashed, bodies liquified by electrocution, exploded by dynamite or impaled onto a conveniently placed spiked fence – among many more. There are going to be parts where you just say to yourself “OH MY GOD! HOW ARE THERE SO MANY ENEMIES!”, but it’s awesome in every sense.
The boss enemies, for the most part, I noticed have INSANELY huge AoE attacks. Regardless of what I did, I found it impossible to avoid many of them. Some of them simply take time to take out, while others become harder due to the amount of mobs they summon during the fight itself. Not only do you require near perfect timing, but it has to be done while taking out the mobs as well. We’re talking old school, Nintendo hard here.
There is a good amount of variety in Evil West being a linear title. There is some minor exploration allowing you to find coin pouches to upgrade equipment, intel, lore, cosmetics and more. Evil West also leaves the guess work up to you regarding where to go. You may think you’re traveling the “explore” side of the level looking for lore, but end up in a cutscene as it was really the main path. A few times I was stuck not being able to go back and explore. The good part is, and don’t worry, that you can replay individual missions. You are also told from the level select menu which and how many collectibles or chest you are missing, allowing a much more streamlined approach for completionists. I really appreciated this much more as I’m not a fan of having to replay an entire game for a single piece of lore or achievement. Evil West succeeded with this.
Upgrading in Evil West is very straight forward and easy. There are plenty of options for each piece of equipment or weapon, and navigating the menu is extremely easy. Overall, Evil West is a humorous, head chopping good time that will see you try to empty as much blood from vampires as you can get. If you’re looking for a friendly, good ole fashioned time you can also jump into co-op as well online with friends. New Game + pops up upon completion of the campaign as well. In co-op, however, it’s important to remember that only the host friend saves progress. So, if you decide to run through the entire campaign as a guest, it will look like you never played when you jump into solo play. Be warned.
In general, everything Evil West does it does very well. Sure, there are some things you may feel are missing like side quests or what not, but that’s not this type of game. Evil West brings back the old school feel of third-person brawlers like Gears, God of War or even Bulletstorm. It’s a great combination of blood, laughs and dismemberment set in a way that only Flying Wild Hog can pull off. Evil West is available now on PC, Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
Xbox Series X code provided by developer for review.