Welcome to the Weird West. Where the Wild West meets strange, human-eating aliens, and outlaws and deadly animals are everywhere. I’ve spent the last week and a half fighting, shooting, horseback riding, and running for my life in this crazy version of the Wild West and I’m ready to make my final verdict. What a strange but deadly world. Think of it as a Diablo-esque version of the Wild West, but unfortunately, without the really cool weapons and armor.
Jane Bell, retired bounty hunter
The story of the Weird West follows a handful of different characters as they each work through their own origin stories. The game starts with Jane Bell, a retired bounty hunter who has married and settled down on her homestead with her husband, her son, and an adopted wolf. She is awoken in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in her neck, and when she ventures outside, her husband is gone and her son and wolf are murdered. The quiet life she had helped build has now shattered, and now she must dig up her long-buried guns and go in search of her kidnapped husband and find vengeance for her murdered son and beloved wolf.
Jane ventures into town and finds that one of the killers has been captured and locked up in the town jail. Here, as the player, you are given choices that will start to form your character’s overall reputation. Do you play the good guy and ask questions nicely, or do you break fingers until you get the information you want? Your actions will determine how you are treated by other NPCs and effects store prices, so think twice before jumping in with both feet.
Diplomacy may take longer, but violence may beget violence, and sometimes it’s better to be nice. Other times it may be more expedient and necessary to break some bones or kick some ass, but always think before you leap. If your reputation gets bad enough, you may just have bounty hunters out looking for you. The reputation system is a very nice addition to this type of game and adds a layer of difficulty that you may not expect once those bounty hunters come after you, and that’s not a bad thing.
Sometimes you’ll have no choice but to draw and fire at the bad guys, and that can be a little awkward when it comes to aiming your weapon. Similar to a Diablo-style game, your view is top-down and off to the side of your character (you can at least rotate the camera). Not quite an isometric top-down shooter, but close. You can zoom in a couple of times, but this makes the aiming even more awkward. Some sort of a snap-to-target acquisition system would have helped immensely when you’re in a huge gunfight, maybe with a way to cycle through all available targets.
Having to manually reload every time your weapon is empty isn’t cool, either. There is an unlockable perk that shoots up to 6 guys at once, but they have to be in sight and in range. You can hide behind boulders, wagons, and buildings but so can the bad guys. The gun fighting system just felt a bit clunky overall and could use some serious tweaks. A twin-stick shooter needs a better aiming mechanism and weapons that auto-reload. The gun types themselves are a six-shooter, a rifle, and a shotgun that all get stronger as you level up and find higher levels of each weapon type. Weapons can also be taken to a gunsmith and upgraded by spending nuggets of various types of ore.
Hired hands are worth the gold
As you play through the game, you’ll be able to rescue certain folks that will end up being friends for life. These guys and gals will come out of nowhere in your times of need to lend a hand when they can. For some extra help, and if you have the gold to spare, there are always guns for hire around towns that are willing to take a bullet for you. These folks can really come in handy if you are needing to take on a bunch of outlaws, and if you have enough gold, you can always hire enough of them to form a decent posse.
You’ll need to keep an eye out for ammo lying around, though, as bullets aren’t cheap, and gold can be hard to find. Be sure to search barrels, crates, dead bodies, and if you have a shovel, graves. Some graves will already be dug up, but most require a shovel. Make sure no one is looking or your reputation will take a hit. You can also steal from folks if they aren’t looking, but be careful as that’s a pretty quick way to start a gunfight if you get caught.
Plenty of upgrades
The Weird West has an RPG-like upgrade and perk system that can help make your shooter faster, stronger, healthier, and carry more loot. It’s a two-pronged system with one prong needing collectible Golden Ace of Spades for perks and the other needing Nimp Relics for abilities. Both types can help you in battle or give you bonuses for finding gold or ammo. There are health and stealth bonuses as well.
The stealth system will have you sneaking through high brush and taking bad guys out from behind. If you’re smart, you’ll hide that body in that brush. If you don’t, you run the risk of someone spotting the body and setting off alerts, causing more bad guys with guns to come looking for you. It’s a well-thought-out game when it comes to sneaking around, as stealth can help you clear out a ranch full of bad guys if you have the patience for it, and it is much easier to stab a guy in the back than it is to try and shoot them when using the awkward aiming mechanics.
Weird West Review: The final verdict
Weird West is a fun, but awkward game. The aiming and gun fighting mechanics often lead to frustration and make it almost unplayable at times. The story is interesting and different and the characters are fun to get to know, but the weapons aren’t very diverse and the armor and clothes are a minimal addition. It’s one of those games, that if you can master the mechanics of it and like this type of camera angle, you’ll probably enjoy it, but still find it lacking in overall depth. Personally, I love Diablo-type games and found Weird West to be enjoyable, but often tedious. Luckily, there’s a quick save and quick load feature for those untimely deaths and missteps. Trust me — those will happen often.