Hard West 2: We tried the Ice Code Games tactical RPG

Hard West 2: We tried the Ice Code Games tactical RPG

Hard West 2

When it comes to the so-called "dead genres" for the market, old-fashioned RPGs and turn-based strategists are always pushed into the discussion by someone, as if their complexity automatically made it impossible to reach the figures of the most commercial titles.

Anyone who has followed the panorama for a while, however, should have realized by now without too many problems how exaggerated and far-fetched these obituaries are: turn-based strategy, role-playing games full of statistics and dialogues and a myriad of other genres even more difficult to approach are alive and well, especially in a market where indie developers are trying in every way to infiltrate any thriving niche in the landscape.

Video games built around systems in particular, they are experiencing a sort of second youth, which has shown how both by following the roots of the genre and by trying to innovate it, it is almost always possible to find a decent target audience. In a field where many classics are revived or renewed from year to year, however, standing out is not easy, and it is therefore an excellent plan to tackle everything with good ideas to support your project.

Aware of this, we tried Hard West 2, following a decent tactical RPG by the Ice Code Games, convinced that we are dealing with a job dedicated only to the biggest fans of this formula. Luckily we were wrong: the Hard West 2 beta was shorter than expected, but also very promising, and could be a welcome surprise for lovers of tactical games set in the old west.

The devil travels by train

Hard West 2: if an enemy is in cover, look for a nearby metal object to shoot at The premise of the game is quite basic and follows the canons of predecessor, which exploited a western fantasy universe where mysticism and magic are not mere superstitions.

The campaign puts you in the shoes of an outlaw called Gin Carter, who in the company of his gang decides to attack a legendary ghost train apparently full of riches; It's a pity that, once the guards aboard each carriage have been eliminated, Gin and his team find a demon named Mammon waiting for them, who "wins" their souls during a rigged game of poker (it's not smart to play cards with the devil, after all). Escaped from the train in a rather daring way, our group of rogues therefore finds himself with one less man and a soul to recover. Routine business.

Hard West 2: The development system is tied to playing cards that unlock specific abilities There are a myriad of ways to develop a similar starting point, but sadly the short demo at our disposal is not it allowed us to grasp its evolutions, barely lasting a couple of hours. A certain emphasis on narrative, however, we have noticed, due to an event management close to that of many recent RPGs, with multiple choices and more or less advantageous variations based on what is selected. With an almost game-book style, you will find undead crucified or colorful characters essential to advancement waiting for you as you advance, who could hide gifts, useful tools, or just an annoying way to take extra damage. It is a structure that always has its own because in this genre of games, and here it seems to be managed with criteria (without particular jumps in the effects even in case of failures).

In the short time available to us, we could also observe a secondary system of relations between the protagonists; in fact, there is the possibility of having this or that companion intervene during the dialogues to increase the affinity, and this offers extra choices during some future dialogues. It's hard to tell if a close relationship with comrades will also lead to changes in the main narrative or advantages in combat, but it would certainly be a welcome extra.

Bullets and magic, not to miss anything

Hard West 2: there is no need to shoot old Bill, you risk him returning all the lead.All these crossroads are faced during an exploratory phase on a linear map, where exploration is usually a matter of progression and not particularly free (even if we only saw the very first location available). Pleasant, but nothing special, especially when compared to the gameplay during the battles, which we found much more tantalizing.

If on the one hand the campaign begins with an assault on horseback, which represents only a marginal variation compared to to the management of the positioning of the classic turn-based battles, on the other hand the shootings are enhanced by two main mechanics: the rebound shots and the Bravado. The former predictably corresponds to the possibility of bouncing bullets on specific objects - metal containers, chandeliers, signs and so on - to get around the covers and increase the probability of hitting the target, whereas the latter is a fundamental mechanic that guarantees additional actions every time you kill an enemy during your turn. They seem trifles explained in this way, yet they allow you to fight and reposition yourself with considerable flexibility in the midst of clashes, as well as to make real massacres in series if you calculate the damage inflicted properly with your skills. But be careful: just as you can use these goodies, so can your opponents, so there is no need to throw your head down among the enemies without taking advantage of the comfortable covers scattered everywhere.

Hard West 2: the battles that start on horseback are scenic, but it seems to be a side mechanic at the moment. Overall we found the difficulty well balanced, despite the rather dry handling of enemy probabilities can cause serious damage even during apparently flawless strategies in battle. However, it must be said that we only faced rather low level enemies, with a couple of elite units not particularly difficult to eliminate and not very complex maps (albeit more extensive than we expected from the first cadres). In any case, we believe that the potential is considerable, not only for the fun that comes when all the mechanics fit together perfectly, but also for the presence of a development system linked to poker cards scattered around the maps, which seems to be able to unlock extra powers and useful passive skills. Considering that already at the beginning of the game each character has a specific power - the teleportation with replacement of the witch Flynn is an absolute boon in certain maps, to give a clear example - strategies and builds that are nothing short of unexpected could crop up at the end of the adventure. br>
Finally, not much to say about the technical sector: the title seemed solid to us, without memorable or striking features, yet also devoid of particular defects. It boasts a certain style, albeit far from the most stylistically memorable games in circulation, and that's enough today as today.

Solid, with a great atmosphere, and built around two mechanics that greatly enhance turn-based battles , Hard West 2 could be a nice surprise for those who love tactical RPGs. Unfortunately, we were only able to tackle the opening bars of the title, but it already seems to have good potential, and there are considerable possibilities that it will evolve steadily throughout the campaign.


Excellent basic system, made more hilarious and unpredictable by the rebounds and the Bravado Good event management, accompanied by an interesting RPG structure DOUBTS We were unfortunately only able to try the early stages of the game Did you notice any errors?

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