Weird West Makes the West Truly Wild
Weird West is an upcoming dark fantasy Wild West adventure. Whether as a posse or as a lone gunman, it’s an unforgiving land. Every time you leave the safety of town is a new journey tailored to your previous actions. The full version comes out on January 11, 2022, developed by Wolfeye Studios. It first came onto that old dusty trail back in late 2019. DreadXP had an opportunity to try out a preview before the game’s release.
In the preview for Weird West, we took control of Jane Bell, a former gunfighter-turned-housewife. After Jane’s husband is captured and her child murdered by a local gang, she digs up her old irons and sets out to rescue what’s left of her quiet life. Jane’s revolver proves more than a match for the simple human bandits plaguing her home, but humans aren’t the only things you have to worry about. Jane discovers the mastermind is a Siren, a creature that eats humans. This Siren is commanding the local toughs to kidnap adults for food, including Jane’s unfortunate husband.
Jane tracks the gang to their hideout. There, the game introduces an interesting mechanic. Down in the basement is an injured member of the gang, an enemy. Showing kindness and bandaging his wounds, however, earned me a Friend For Life. These allies come to your aid at critical moments and can turn the tide in a losing battle. Some can even follow you around for extra firepower. It’s a very cool mechanic, one that I hope plays a bigger part in the main game. By the same token, wronging someone or leaving them to crawl away can earn you a vengeful foe.
After finishing up at the farmhouse, I was able to explore the area a little bit. There’s a town that acts as a sort of hub. While there, you can pick up side quests, check the bounty board, and purchase supplies. I could take a detour to check out a hidden stash or prioritize finding Jane’s husband. Painful as leaving the potential loot behind was, I chose the latter. Each of the characters will have a chapter to themselves before their stories converge. The game has a distinct aesthetic to its dialogues and interface, though it was initially a bit confusing to navigate and get a feel for the menus. There were lots of fun visual details, such as buzzards descending on corpses after they’ve been left alone for a while. Seems you can kill scavengers for meat, too, if you’re desperate for food.
I found Weird West more comfortable with a controller than a mouse and keyboard. It plays almost like a twin-stick shooter: One stick is for your positioning, and the other for your aiming. You have a few options in combat. I played Jane on the sneaky side since she didn’t seem super-durable. She could take stray shots, but anyone with a shotgun was very dangerous. One of my favorite tricks was to shoot oil lamps, causing a small fire. This worked as both a distraction while dealing good damage. Weird West also let me kick explosive barrels into flames, dealing heavy damage and extinguishing the light source. While going in guns blazing was always an option, I was able to make a tactical choice to not force a fight where I was outnumbered. Silent Kills and distractions were my bread and butter. Enemies can hear gunshots, and they’ll come running.
In addition to your basic abilities, you can acquire passives and active special abilities depending on your character. I gave Jane the ability to fire all of her revolver’s rounds in one go, which was a good source of burst damage. The items to unlock abilities were a bit scarce, so it seems players will have to prioritize their character builds. The skills ranged from boring-but-practical upgrades to your health to cool weapon abilities. The dark matter in the above screenshot applies to active abilities, which consume AP. The golden cards next to it are essentially points for passives. What I noticed was that, despite explaining what they do, there wasn’t much guidance on what one might want to get Jane.
Weird West was a bit out of my usual purview, so it was fun to explore a different genre with a spooky, supernatural vibe. Gritty Victorian and Edwardian-era technology and settings mixed with the supernatural are some of my favorites, so I was pleased with the story’s dark tones. I didn’t run into any bugs during the preview, though as previously stated the default keyboard/mouse controls were distracting. All in all, I can yeehaw-dly wait for the full release come next January. You can pre-purchase Weird West now on Steam, if you like.