This town ain’t big enough for vampires, werewolves, and grotesque horrors that mankind can barely grasp. Find out in our Evil West review!
When you fire up an action game, chances are you want to feel the rush of the fight. You want to crush your enemies, with the ever-present threat of being crushed yourself. Finding the right balance between feeling powerful and powerless makes for an experience where you take risks, get zoned-in/immersed, and do everything your controller can handle to survive. It’s so hard to find this balance in action games; it feels like either you’re slamming through hordes of foes in a Dynasty Warriors, or getting your ass kicked for the dozenth time in Dark Souls.
This tough balance that I’ve yearned for has been found in Evil West. Set in the wild, wild west, you take the reins of Jesse Rentier, a vampire-hunter equipped with the latest in Industrial Revolution-era technology to quell supernatural forces. With nothing more than a revolver, a pump-action rifle, and a gauntlet, you’re tasked with facing a serious amount of enemies – and some that can rip you apart in just a few hits.
The last time we encountered such great combat was with the same developer, Flying Wild Hog, in Shadow Warrior 3. So, are you up to the task? Find out in our Evil West review.
Evil West is a third-person shooter with some pulse-pounding, insane action. From the first moment you get control of Jesse Rentier, you’ll understand that this is an adventure with Michael Bay explosions every few seconds. You’ll mix up melee hits with ranged shots to make it out of some sticky situations. Just about every new encounter, Evil West will introduce to you a new way to dispatch these enemies, from chaining an uppercut into a smash, to shooting enemies within a small window to bank a critical hit.
While vampires are the main antagonists, you’ll fight a bevy of other deadly monstrosities throughout Evil West.
Evil West has one hell of a slow start as you’re quite limited in what you can do before you unlock your full potential. Thankfully, this only lasts for about an hour of the gameplay. Once you procure “the zapper”, you can finally counter attacks and turn the tide of tough encounters, as well as zip to far-away enemies in the blink of an eye.
Upgrades are necessities in Evil West, as you learn new combos, parries, and survivabilities to make it to the end.
Zooming towards a baddie brings me back to Mass Effect 2/3‘s “Biotic Charge“, my favorite attack in video gaming due to making you feel truly unstoppable. The challenge ramps up the farther you delve into the game, though – what are once bosses become regular enemies, demanding your full attention and the best of your reactions to even survive the horrors faced upon you.
The least-focused upon aspect of any good action game is the story, and such is the case with Evil West. That’s not to say it’s a complete throwaway, though – it’s a serviceable afterthought to keep you engaged while you need a reprieve from the fighting. Essentially, as Jesse Rentier, you are a “field agent” of an operation destined to fight the supernatural. You’ll have a run-in with your father who has high hopes for you that stray from your calling.
Downtime in Evil West lets you encounter some lore, talk with companions, and immerse yourself in the wild west.
When the grit hits the pan, you’ll get a grasp of what you’re up against as your foes impose upon you not just the quantity of enemies to kill, but how daunting and troublesome they can be. Evil West does a great job of foreshadowing just how tough your combat encounters will be as you progress through its levels, whether it’s a ton of human enemies spotting you before you get in fighting range, or an underground digging foe making a ruckus before you finally face off with them.
One of my only nitpicks with Evil West is its audio quality. Whether I played the sound on my soundbar or through my headphones, the voices sounded exceptionally grainy – about on-par with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to give you an idea. It’s an immersion-breaker for sure, which is a shame, because the voice acting in Evil West is positively superb; accents are nailed to the core, and you can feel the pain in Jesse’s grunts as he gets dealt a brutal blow.
The music is on-par, as saloons are aloft with piano runs and tough battles are matched with intense music to accompany them. Hopefully the voice issue can be remedied soon after launch, as it’s one of the few glaring blemishes on this title.
How well a game performs is pertinent to action titles; you can’t expect to bring your best if a game runs at ~30fps, and in 2022 you deserve to see games in hyper-clarity. As is the standard at the breaking point between console generations, Evil West holds a performance mode as well as a quality mode, but we’ll be focusing on the former for the sake of, well, performance.
Even with all the explosions and the amount of enemies on-screen at any given time, the performance mode never dipped below 60fps. There’s plenty of pretty sights to see as you make your way through the games’ levels, and the character models of the enemies are positively horrifying, particularly the bosses that are eyesores in the best way. Be sure to take a look at them in the gallery in all their un-glory.
Evil West isn’t going to be for every gamer, as it caters to the hyper-action-savvy players that want everything turned up to 11, and not for those who want to sail through and experience just the story. While it isn’t impossible, it’s a worthy challenge to play through Evil West on Normal or higher, as you can be taken out in a few hits, but the game warrants high-risk-high-reward players with wiping the floor with these enemies once they get a handle on how the game plays.
While the title is on the shorter side, it’s quite replayable thanks to a New Game+ and an online co-op mode to enjoy with a friend. Focus Entertainment tends to have games on sale frequently, so expect that $49.99 price tag to drop in no time and to have a good time when the price is right.
So, why should you play it?
- Unreal action that keeps you on the edge of your seat and not wanting to quit
- Nice progression of unlocks after the first hour to streamline the combat
- Great level of difficulty that rewards persistence/variety and punishes laziness.
But why shouldn’t you play it?
- A little rough around the edges with glitches, audio
- Short playtime if you’re a one-and-done kind of player
- No saved progress if you play with a friend – you’ll have to beat it in one sitting.
A review code was kindly provided courtesy of Focus Entertainment for the purpose of our Evil West review. You can also explore more of our reviews here!