I need to start this article with an apology. I’m really sorry. I am absolutely sorry to everyone who has mentioned Evil West to me lately and suggested that it looks like a great game, only for me to shrug and say it looks like penalty fee, writing it off as a B-grade action game that would be lost in the landscape of future releases. I recently had the opportunity at Gamescom 2022 to play around 30 minutes of the upcoming title from the developers of Shadow Warrior 3, Flying Wild Hog, and realized how wrong I was. Evil West is hands down one of the best things I’ve played on the show and has shot up to the upper limits of my most wanted games this year.
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Some context perhaps, for those who need it. Evil West is an upcoming third-person action game where you take on the role of Jesse Rentier, a vampire hunter in a doomed version of American Frontier. Gameplay-wise, think of it like Devil May Cry meets Bulletstorm meets Mad World. Or somewhere in between all of that.
My demo showed me the second level of the game, some of which you may have seen in some previous game trailers, starting with Jesse in a very Wild West mining town with his partner, Edgar, and a screaming prisoner in tow. The first section of the level had me fighting my way through the dusty and mostly abandoned town, fending off surly bandits as I went and giving me my first taste of the game’s meaty combat. My impressions in the first few minutes of the preview were of a slick and competent third-person shooter in a rather unique setting, based on my initial instinct to pick off enemies within range. But while Jesse comes equipped with a handful of different flavors of weapons, his main arm comes in the form of, well, his arm.
The Gauntlet weapon in Evil West is his biggest grappling hook and an absolute explosion to use. The Flying Wild Hog crew present during my demo put it best when they described Evil West’s melee as “Complex, but not complicated.” Everything is very contextual, meaning that positioning, enemy states, and the surrounding environment are just as important as your choice of combo or special ability. Jesse, as he was in the preview, could moan at enemies at close range, close the distance with a dash move, knock them out of the air, take out stunned baddies with brutal finishers, or shoot them at other enemies and environmental hazards, and That is only the beginning. game stuff. It’s super, super satisfying, and almost enough to make shooting feel superfluous (but not quite, because shooting is a lot of fun too!).
The rest of the level I played had me delving into a semi-abandoned mine, now home to a horde of ‘Familiars’, the game’s race of vampires. While shooting and punching my way through these creatures of varying levels of ugliness, I also engaged in some light traversal and environmental puzzles, mostly by using my gauntlet as a tether to knock objects down or swing across ledges. . There are a couple of interesting things I noted in this section: one is that the spiders that infest these mines, which are purely for visual effects, can be disabled in the options menu for arachnophobes. Also, one point where the game made me meet the requirement Tropey slipped through a crack in the wall only to get stuck due to the giant Gauntlet made me laugh to myself, and hopefully it’s an indication of the irony. the tone the game is looking for.
After traversing the mine section, taking on a few rooms of baddies both on foot and in the air with the occasional hook on a spiked wall for good measure, I climaxed this hands-on demo in the form of a boss battle. . This fight against a huge, demon-like Familiar came with a warning from the Flying Wild Hog developers watching me play, who advised me to spend my bonus skill point on a healing skill upgrade. Turns out I didn’t need it though, as I took out the boss entirely and supposedly impressed the team by taking advantage of a strategy they hadn’t seen anyone use yet. I’m not sure how I’m the only one who thought of throwing growls at nearby enemies. within the big guy to take large portions of his health, as well as farm the little ones for health pickups. I’m usually terrible at games though, so I’ll take the praise where I can. I guess it’s just another testament to how flexible and brutally satisfying melee is.
The trick with Evil West is that I could talk about it all day, and you could watch any number of gameplay videos, but it’s the kind of game you need to experience firsthand to understand. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve played something that feels this good, especially with a controller in hand (the studio recommends that PC gamers opt for a controller as well). I’m looking forward to spending more time and seeing if the amount of fun I had in a short session carries over to the full game, at least to see where the spaghetti western vampire story goes effortlessly.
Evil West launches on November 22 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC. The cheapest copy is currently $74 with shipping from Amazon.