The limited amount of time I could spend with a piece of Flying Wild Hog’s Evil West almost felt like time travel. A linear third-person action game? With hidden collectibles? Without side quests? Checkpoints without a campfire? Open areas that double as battle arenas to crunch through enemies before moving on to do it again? They don’t do them like that anymore, and with a game like this, I really wish they had.
Set in an alternate 18th century, where the west is still wild but also filled with vampires, you play as Jesse Reintier, star agent and heir apparent to the Reindeer Institute, an organization of vampire hunters fueled by sci-fi technology and government spending becomes . As a tough man on site, you are the right person to go to when a dirty job needs to be done. In the demo level I played, this task was to recover missing technology in a snowy mine.
Evil West Game Awards trailer images
Story and character exploration was very easy in this build. Even with some sort of sidekick to joke with, Jesse seems largely like your run-of-the-mill protagonist who would rather shoot with a gun than his mouth. Meanwhile, much of the environment is cool on the surface. Electropunk tech inspired by Nikola Tesla is gaudy and overdesigned to attract more than it repels. The unnatural technology also stands in stark contrast to the supernatural brutality of many vampire designs.
When the gunfight begins, Jesse is more than prepared, using both more mundane and traditional firearms and mechanical tricks that will close the magical power imbalance between himself and his enemies. The basis of my offense was his gnarled glove. You can mash for quick face-beat combos or hold down the attack button to launch an enemy into the air. Follow him with a dive punch or quickly draw your pistol and fill them with holes before they fall. Making these decisions on the fly is a breeze as each weapon resides on its own dedicated button or takes place in its own specific scenario. For example, if I want to fire the pistol, I press the fire button. If I want to hit longer range targets with my rifle, shoot while aiming.
The Reindeer Institute also provides you with some other gadgets. Your energy shield isn’t the kind you hide behind to absorb attacks for you, but if you time it right, any enemy that tries to touch you will go into high-voltage seizures, allowing them to deal huge damage. The Crippling Rod can do the same thing, but for a whole bunch of enemies at once. Aside from being flashy, all of your tools feel like they’re tailor-made for specific situations, and none feels irrelevant or superfluous compared to the others. I loved that the variety of actions didn’t step on tiptoe.
There seems to be a ton of ways to upgrade and personalize your tools according to your preferred playstyle. You can add other functions to your weapons, e.g. B. the ability to refund bullets spent on monsters when shooting weak spots. Or you can add other character-focused perks that grant you new abilities or modify and expand existing ones. Standard skill tree stuff at first glance, but when you see how those follow-on effects add up, Jesse really does become the friendly one-man army they portray him as.
After all, the vampires here aren’t your Bela Lugosi Draculas. Some are ferocious skinless beasts, their bodies flailing on autopilot in search of your neck. Some are almost like hives for large, glowing, explosive insects that will march to their deaths to secure yours. These are inventive and at times quite challenging creatures that definitely make me want to learn more about what strange horrors lurk in the shadows of this alternate history America.
The linearity of the stage I was playing was offset fairly well by the amount of nooks and crannies scattered around to find consumables, money, or other collectibles. I wasn’t particularly moved to search every inch of the stage in this demo, but I can see that OCD players have more boxes to check out for a full release. Such a no-nonsense design doesn’t seem to keep up with today’s Forever games, but I really appreciated the focus on making the elements you can interact with feel alive and intended. No, I can’t “see the mountain in the background and climb it,” but each encounter feels crafted to create a specific type of challenge, making it feel more like an intentional puzzle than a happy accident.
Evil West Game Award trailer screenshots
The little demo time I got with Evil West made me thirsty for more Old West vampire hunting. In a year that somehow finds three notable games set in a dark and haunted Wild West, Flying Wild Hog’s remains unique not only among its peers, but among its genre contemporaries as well. Action is quick to grasp, but unveils new levels of depth and strategy with each new powerful upgrade, bizarre tool, and toothy enemy.
https://www.ign.com/articles/evil-west-hands-on-preview-refreshingly-old-school Evil West Hands-On Preview: Refreshingly old-school