The wild west was always a dangerous place. If sickness, outlaws, or rattlesnakes didn’t get you, dysentery would eventually come knocking on your door in the end. With Evil West, developed by Flying Wild Hog, you also had another thing to worry about; Vampires. Go Figure.
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series
Release Date: November 22nd, 2022
The Tale of the Evil West
Let’s just get this bit out of the way first, the story is very silly. In Evil West, you play as Jesse Rentier. A scarred-up, grizzled cowboy, heir to the Rentier Institute, and seasoned hunter of the occult. We meet Jesse as he and longtime family friend Edgar Gravenor are preparing to apprehend a vampire by derailing the train he’s in.
Their purpose? To use this vampire in order to break a high-born vampire’s glamour. This high-born, Peter D’Abano, sees humanity as a growing threat to the existence of vampires. Our technology is growing at an alarming rate and our numbers vastly outnumber theirs. So, as we find Peter, we see that he’s attempting to unite the other high-born lords for an all-out war against humanity.
Evil West’s story is full of moments you’d expect, and it’s mildly entertaining. It’s about as fun as any action flick would have been and Jesse is a likable protagonist. What you see is what you get with Evil West, and that’s not a bad thing if you don’t think too much about it. You’re just meant to saddle up and have fun beating up vampires, which the story achieves pretty flawlessly here.
Cutting Edge Tech to Kick Vampiric Butt
Like the old west, gameplay in Evil West is simple and hearkens back to the days of older action-adventure games. Players will traverse the game’s linear level design, killing a wide variety of monsters, leveling up, and occasionally making detours for money, tidbits of lore, and other collectibles. Sometimes, there may even be a big bad boss at the end of the level.
As players progress through the game and level up, they’ll earn access to new weapons, tech and perks. There are quite a lot of perks to unlock too that will better strengthen Jesse. Perks are unlocked with points earned by leveling up and range from simple things like a wider pickup radius to unlocking new special attacks.
Using “Bucks,” the game’s version of money, players can increase the usefulness of your weaponry. One of the weapons players earn earlier on in the game is the cowboy’s trusty shotgun. It’s great for close-range encounters and breaking through enemies’ shielding. Just like all shotguns in every video game ever, its ammo is limited, and reloading is slow. Using the bucks you picked up throughout the game, however, you can expand its ammo capacity allowing for more devastation.
Jesse Himself is a Force of Nature
Jesse Rentier isn’t limited to just his tech, however. The Rentier Institute may be known for its cutting-edge technology, Evil West is primarily a game that relies on melee combat. Wielding a silver gauntlet, players go toe-to-toe with hordes of vampires, reserving their guns for more situational uses.
Enemies can be launched upwards with a powerful uppercut using the gauntlet. This attack can then either be followed through with a powerful punch that sends them flying or juggled with the revolver. The gauntlet also comes equipped with a shield that allows the user to both pull and dash toward enemies. This also stuns them, setting them up for a quick, wicked combo.
Blocking isn’t the only way to counter attacks either. The long rifle is excellent for dealing with enemies at a distance but it can also counter ranged attacks. If players can aim and fire at an enemy’s exposed weak spot, indicated by a circle, they can dish out massive damage. By pressing in the stick, players can also perform a kick that interrupts a highlighted enemy’s melee attacks. Interrupting these attacks also opens them up for a quick beating as well.
There are just a lot of effective ways for players to deal with enemies and it’s just a lot of fun. Evil West‘s arsenal of cool gadgetry provided to players and how they’re used is the best thing about the game. When it comes down to it, there isn’t anything like yanking a tick across the screen and laying into it with your colossal, steampunk gauntlet.
Looks and Feels Like You’re in The Old West Too
Performance is where I experienced most of my issues with Evil West. Focus Entertainment was kind enough to provide me with a code for Steam, but I ran into many problems on PC. “Questionable Cargo,” the very first level was marred with framerate issues, broken tutorials, environments that didn’t load properly, and some enemies that didn’t spawn.
Cleaning out my drivers and tweaking the settings, helped but many of the problems still persisted. We ended up getting a PS5 code, and I played the rest of the game there. With the game set to performance mode, I ran into very few issues. Everything felt like it worked as it should with enemies spawning correctly, tutorials popping up in the right places, and very few framerate issues.
The main issue with the console versions is that you really have to favor one setting over the other. If you want it to look prettier, then Quality mode can give you that 4K vibe you’re looking for but expect a lower framerate with some dips. Performance mode will deliver 60FPS, but it really doesn’t do the game’s graphics any justice.
The sound quality was also an issue in my playthrough as well. Weaponry sounds excellent but other sound effects and voice acting are off. NPCs sound like their lines were recorded with a toy microphone you buy at the dollar store for instance. Like they’re in some sort of void with metallic walls.
Should You Join the Rentier Institute in Evil West?
There has been a trend recently of smaller budget games that harken back to a previous generation of gaming—reminding us of older games like God of War where we hacked and slashed our way through linear, bloodied levels. In Evil West’s case, it took me back to the occult, steampunk shooter Darkwatch developed by High Moon Studios. This trend really helps me appreciate what gaming used to be, before it evolved into what it is today.
Although it has some problems, Evil West is an enjoyable game set. While it is not a first-person shooter like Darkwatch, it still has a strong steampunk and western horror atmosphere. The vampiric hordes of the wild west are no match for Jesse Rentier as long as you can get past the performance issues.
Review Disclosure Statement: Evil West was provided to us by Focus Entertainment for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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Evil West Review
Evil West’s biggest issues are in its technical problems. The game is incredibly fun but it’s marred by performance issues and just feels dated with simple level design.
- Great beat ‘em up action.
- Cowboys v. Vampires is better than Cowboys v Aliens.
- Fun variety of gadgets, guns and upgrades.
- A lot of upgrades to unlock.
- Feels dated.
- Performance issues.
- Simple level design.