So the founder of Arkane Studios – the devs behind the popular Dishonored series – decided to leave and form a new company a few years ago. Weird West is the result of that founding – their first game, and it is definitely a bit of a weird one.
Okay, to sum up what this game is – it’s basically a top-down CRPG set in a western-dark fantasy world. The combat is done in real-time, but there are abilities and such that can slow that down and there’s even a tactical mode that you can toggle by binding to whatever key. The game world is large and there is plenty to explore, a bunch of side quests to complete, and a lot of perks to unlock too. The game loop revolves around completing “journeys” which are basically campaigns that let you play as one of five characters. These are played in an enforced order and are tied together by an overall mystery story.
So as an RPG, the game already has a lot going for it, but as I said before – it is a bit weird in some ways. For example – the combat. Ranged weapons? Completely fine (at least, for the most part). Melee weapons though? Absolute pain to use. You have to hold a key to prime the melee weapon and then just spam left click as fast as possible, missing about half the time due to a combination of evasion chance and the game just straight up not connecting hits. This wasn’t so bad on my first journey as I mostly used a rifle, but on the second when your starting weapon is a cleaver – it quickly becomes a mess and one of my first goals was to find a ranged weapon to save me the trouble.
The controls in general never quite clicked with me – and this is with me playing on mouse and keyboard. I made some adjustments to attempt to make them more intuitive, but frequently found myself not activating the abilities I wanted to, pulling out the wrong weapon, and crouching when I did not want to (which is not helped by the fact that some actions force your character to crouch). Yeah, some of that may be me, but I play a ton of games like this and generally don’t have these issues, so I’m not really sure what’s going on here.
When the combat works though – it’s some great stuff. The different guns are simple, yet fun to use, the difficulty is well-balanced on normal, and I always love games that include good stealth mechanics. I’m the type of guy that always plays the sneaky, pickpocketing thief – the one that knocks out enemies, drags off their body to some hiding spot, and finds a way in without anyone ever knowing. All of that is possible here and then some – like the AI viewing range is actually decent and offers up a good challenge.
However, on that same note – the AI is again, a bit weird. On things like seeing you from across the field or landing really long-range shots – they’re great. That said, I noticed quite a few pathing issues and other instances where NPCs would teleport or just behave in the most bizarre manner. For example – during one mission I charged into a mining site and hid in a corner. All of the NPCs failed to follow me up the stairs to this corner and instead got stuck on the wall right next to the stairs – allowing me the opportunity to chuck some TNT and wipe out like ten of them at once. The AI is usually good for the most part, but bad enough at times that I felt it was worth the mention.
Another iffy part of the game comes in the form of its loot. As the guy that likes to sneak around and steal stuff – I like me some good loot, and unfortunately, Weird West is not the most accommodating there. I mean, there are a bunch of buildings and containers TO loot, but about 90% of that loot is just some flavor of junk – whether that be a pack of cigarettes, a sheriff’s badge, or a pocket watch. The sole purpose of these junk items is to be sold – and the game even includes a “sell junk” button at shops – so it is a bit disappointing to spend all this time looting and walking away with maybe one or two cool things out of 100 or so.
Sneaking around and exploring was way more rewarding when you came across side content or other such optional stuff. Sometimes my sneaking would lead me into a trap door in which I find an imprisoned gunslinger who, if freed by me, will be in my debt and come help me during future shootouts at random. Sometimes I found little notes or other letters that added to the lore and sometimes these contained instructions on where to find even better loot. There’s usually a couple of these things per area, so exploring is almost always worth it even if the loot may not be the best.
Story-wise, I can’t say I am the biggest fan. It’s not the most involved story, but what is there is pretty weak. The main thing is this supernatural mystery binding five characters together, but the actual character writing itself isn’t that strong. The first character, for example, is a former bounty hunter whose husband gets killed and – many hours later after completing that journey – I still knew little about this husband or felt any sort of attachment to what was going on. To me, it felt more like a driving force for the gameplay – which may not even be a bad thing for most. Still disappointing, but at least not terrible.
I have some more minor complaints – like the iffy graphics and the perk system being a bit underutilized, but that pretty much sums up my experience with Weird West. I may have gotten sucked in early on and dumped hours into it, but I also cannot deny it does have numerous faults, such as the melee combat and the loot system.
So while I recommend the game, I’d say it’s only a light recommendation. If you’re into this genre? Well worth a look. However, there are better picks out there and this is probably one best left for a sale. That or give it a shot on Game Pass – it’s pretty much the perfect Game Pass kinda game if that makes sense.
Quote: Weird West’s best features – its combat and exploration – are not without fault, but I also cannot deny that they kept me engaged for hours on end. Maybe not a day-one buy, but still worth a look.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.