We’re finally here! The year’s most anticipated horror western comes to the Xbox One, PS4, and PC with its original 1989 release date restored. I’m so excited for this game that when it was announced my cat jumped on top of me in excitement–but I’ll have none of that nonsense.
The immersive simulation genre is an odd one. Those who recognize it by name are often obsessive enthusiasts who will repeat their favorite genre games in order to keep tinkering with the environments. Regardless, it is a challenging phrase to define.
Weird West is a new independent take on the immersive sim, but it’s being developed by a team of former AAA veterans who worked on Dishonored and Prey, two of the best examples of the genre to date. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that it is in excellent condition.
I’ve fired off a six-shooter of items that attracted my interest in the promising preview after a few hours with an early version of the game. Here’s why I’m looking forward to Weird West, the WolfEye premiere.
Weird West is from WolfEye, although this is their debut game as a tiny, scattered team. While it requires an introduction, the team’s previous work does not. The team was created by Raphael Colantonio, former President and Creative Director of Arkane Studios, Julien Roby, former producer of Arkane, and industry veteran Binu Philip, COO.
With Weird West, the team’s predilection for immersive simulators and games with sophisticated systems is on show early and frequently, and given this is a genre that lives and dies mostly on level design, I’m thrilled to see them put their skills to use on a smaller scale.
You’d think Weird West would be a bloody revenge quest after your son is killed and your spouse is kidnapped, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Weird West, like Dishonored and Prey before it, offers players hub-like regions brimming with foes but also rife with opportunity.
Do you set up a diversion and then enter via the back door? Do you kill your opponents one by one, then bury their remains under dense grass? Perhaps you started a chain reaction that gathered all the enemy in one place, just to shoot out a light near an oil slick and burn them all down.
The Arkane games are known for their level design (which they do better than anybody else, in my view), and Weird West appears to capture some of that charm, even from an angled perspective. It may seem different, but taking one’s time with an encounter and getting everything just perfect is still quite enjoyable.
Combat, which, after a tutorialized opening, truly opens out to expose the depth of your talents, goes hand-in-hand with those rich locations. The odd twist of unlocking big new abilities because to Weird West’s occult leanings gives a weird spin to everything, but even the plain old-fashioned shootouts keep things interesting.
That’s because, even in this incomplete version, adversaries have a deadly instinct. In the Weird West, it’s best to stay hidden for as long as possible. When I broke my cover in a crowded location, I was immediately surrounded by a swarm of adversaries, some of whom flanked me with shotguns.
The nearly RTS-like UI will keep you informed about your aim and damage, but it’s up to you to remain on your feet by preparing ahead of time — and responding quickly when the plan breaks apart.
Despite its position in the middle of our list, I’d say the location is my favorite aspect of Weird West so far. I love it when two genres merge (It’s a heist film and a Christmas film, right?). Reindeer Games is amazing! ), thus the combination of mysticism and westerns in both thematic and visual components has been wonderful.
Cannibals prowl the countryside, and even fiercer creatures are hinted at for the entire game. The core opposing group wears burlap over their heads like deranged serial murderers, and even fiercer monsters are hinted at for the full game. Weird West accomplishes a lot with significantly less resources than certain members of the team are used to, and this is especially visible in the world-building. It’s a masterfully built dark centerpiece for a game that’s already doing a lot well.
Even before I began reading Weird West, I had a feeling it was going to be intriguing. Part of this is due to the pedigree I described before. But there’s also the music to consider. The trailer posted above provides you a solid idea of what to expect. It beautifully embodies the two tastes of Weird West: the walk-tall western and its occult mysticism.
I was so taken with it that as soon as I turned it on, I contacted the folks that contributed the code to inquire about the possibility of a soundtrack release (no word on that yet, by the way). WolfEye’s website states that audio is a priority, and it shows in the team’s first game.
Hints to What’s to Come
I was able to go through the narrative of bounty hunter Jane Bell during my trial time with Weird West, but the complete game will have five playable characters, each with their own story to tell. This strategy guarantees diversity while simultaneously implying some overlap.
I’d love it if, towards the conclusion of Weird West, we could look back and see how each of these individuals, who seemed to be living separate lives at first, really influenced each other’s storylines, both directly and indirectly. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together, with more monsters to unearth, anti-heroes to emerge, and more tragedies to befall the residents of Weird West.
On January 11, 2022, Weird West will be released on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.