Weird West, good ideas do not save from oblivion | Review

Weird West, good ideas do not save from oblivion | Review

Weird West

Developed by WolfEye Studios, a team set up by Arkane co-founder Raphael Colantonio, and by other developers of the same and famous development team, Weird West presented itself to our eyes not without a certain charm, the synthesis of which was a sum of different factors, on paper all spot on and in the right place.

First of all the signature of Colantonio, whose contribution was fundamental for the creation of the Dishonored universe which, to be honest, gave us at least made us hope for a world building worthy of the name (and in part it was so); secondly, the idea that the team, mindful of their work in Arkane, delivered us a rich and fascinating narrative experience and, if possible, far from any previous stereotype based on monsters and bullets.

Third , but not least, the fascinating mix of western and dark fantasy, with some implications that seemed to have been fully taken from the Lovecraftian myth. We are talking about the Gothic Western genre, a territory that gaming, except for very rare incursions, has faced only rarely and which, perhaps, with Weird West could have found a new champion, since the scepter is undoubtedly still in the hands of Red Dead Redemption: Terror from 'Oltretomba, or a title now 12 years old. Too bad that…

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The world building is not without defects, of course, but the mix between the old west and the various monstrosities that inhabit it is guessed and well built , and will lead the player not only to immerse themselves in atmospheres full of mysticism and esotericism, but also to know some specific factions and characters that, alone, could be worth the price of the ticket provided, however, that they have good knowledge of the English language, since the game has neither dubbing nor Italian subtitles.

In the role of 5 different characters, somehow united by pain, suffering and the desire for revenge, Weird West is p ropone as a choral story, built by hand as the 5 protagonists will pass both the baton of the story, as well as the reins of the gameplay. At the center of it all is a mysterious mystical entity which, nicknamed "Traveler", will stick to the protagonist from time to time, for reasons that are obviously the basis of the main plot. Works? Nì.

So, if on the one hand there is the beauty of a Carthusian construction, and also the charm of a fragmented and episodic narrative which, in fact, has six different narrative arcs, on the other hand there are the limits of production, a sloppy and almost non-existent direction (and no, the visual from above is not a justification) and, above all, of the very banal implications, which end up slowing down, if not demotivating, the player's progression.

On the other hand, what wins is the subdivision of the story in 5 different characters. Both because some of them are much less trivial than they would seem, and because through them the story, albeit slowly, proceeds in an interesting way for what - as mentioned above - a little phoned.

Weird West, in synthesis, proposes for each character a specific objective which, as a basis, has the pretext of the individual's revenge against one or more entities. Through this narrative moment (we would say about 3 or 4 hours per character, without secondary quests and related digressions), the game is then spent in a horizontal narrative that has, as the protagonist, the mysterious Traveler who, cohabiting with the spirit of the individual characters, in some way it binds the journey and determines its actions.

If on the one hand, therefore, what does not work is the banality of the implications and a certain and forced slowness of certain passages, on the other it is undeniable how the construction of the characters and, above all, their excellent immersion in what is a very rich game world makes the title pleasant and captivating, in what is a constant mix of boredom and beauty that, in its syncopated trend, is appreciable but demotivating traits and this, we spoil you with respect to the end of the review, is the reason (both positively and negatively) for that narrow sufficiency that you read at the bottom of the text, because the rest ... the the rest is worse.

Infernal challenge

Presented as a title inspired by immersive sim mechanics, Weird West offers a gameplay that is not particularly innovative, but certainly full of possibility, in which the experimentation is not accentuated by the mere presence of different guns, but by the interaction with the scenarios, by the good quality of the level design, and by the possibility of solving different situations even just bypassing bands of enemies without firing a shot . At least in theory.

Everything is beautiful, but even here only on paper. Going into detail: Weird West offers a very varied system of skills, active and passive, to which are added not only the aforementioned environmental possibilities, but also a series of passive and unlockable bonuses, which can be accumulated from character to character. >
Basically it works like this: each character has several unique abilities, both active and passive, which are contextualized to his narrative background, as well as to his human or monstrous nature. These skills are unlockable and upgradeable, and depend on the discovery of some artifacts, scattered in large numbers both through the main and secondary scenarios, provided of course that you want to spend a few hours of secondary missions.

A these are then added the common passive skills, also available in large quantities, and which affect the entire party, regardless of whether it is composed of the protagonists of the story (for each new protagonist we can decide to go and track down the previous ones) or other NPCs made available by the narrative context. These perks must therefore also be unlocked and upgraded, and once again by means of artifacts (golden playing cards), the search for which requires only a little more patience than the previous ones.

In addition to this, the game features of many different weapons ranging from hand-to-hand weapons, such as cleavers, knives and sticks, to the more classic Wild West weapons, such as pistols, rifles, sniper rifles, many of which also have elemental properties that would like to entice the player to take into account not only the different types of enemies, but also and above all the environmental interaction, which often offers flammable objects, puddles of water to be electrified and various other interactions, all to be discovered, and vaguely suggested by the advice present in the loading screens.

The proposal, objectively, is excellent and would like, at least ideally, to offer the player always different approaches, to the discovery of those who are me todi more effective to deal with any situation. The point is that, even without a good level design, Weird West is not able to support the weight of its own ambitions, leading the player to always prefer the firefight, and at the most the choice of some skills. passive, not impacting, but still useful.

The game system, although dynamic, is not in fact sufficiently refined to allow a sensible use of skills, elements or any other playful proposal, and firearms will always be the best possible option, even net of an often overwhelming number of enemies.

You just need to get at least one of the best weapons currently available in circulation (simple thing through the shops of the various cities) and make sure that the whole party has it, to quickly resolve even the most chaotic sections, occasionally helping with a bullet time that almost always involves the instant death of any enemy.

Not even the The crafting component present in the game also serves a great purpose, and wasting time looking for raw materials, or even just to develop better weapons or clothes (the equivalent of the classic "armor") will involve more a waste of time than a real advantage. A pity, even if only for the beautiful diversification granted to the 5 protagonists, richly decorated by the narrative background, but all with skills that can soon be glissed, if not completely archived.

Slow West

Speaking again of the rhythm and the playful structure, the willingness on the part of the development team to put a lot of meat on the fire is evident, demonstrating not only a certain legacy (and we want to say: we are talking about former Arkane), but also a certain playful air and artistic. The point is that perhaps it would have been better to subtract some elements from the general equation, making an effort to refine at least shooting and narration, so as to make at least one component of the game 100% complete.

As it is proposed, instead , Weird West is an interesting title, but never capable of carrying out even one of its tasks, be it narrative construction, exploration, shootings, use of skills, crafting or character development. We are talking about a game in which there is really everything, just as we would expect from an immersive sim, but in which nothing is really well done, and indeed some elements are so superfluous as to be completely useless.

The sad thing is that, beyond the archetype of "wasted opportunity", the player is particularly affected, constantly tossed about by the strange narrative rhythm of the game who, not knowing well whether to present himself as a shooter , as a narrative adventure, as a stealth game, or as a sort of western simulator, ends up boring, if not exhausting, thanks to a slow, diluted, at times very tedious narrative.

Not a vague one. system of moral choices (with even minimal consequences in terms of plot!) manages to revive the fortunes of a game that simply fails to shine in any specific aspect and this, of course, is a great pity, because everything is so unbalanced to be dragged into the abyss anc he few things that, objectively, would be worth saving.

Once upon a time in the west

As you will guess, even from a technical point of view, Weird West suffers from a series of levities, such as to make him indigestible at times. First of all, it must be said that the game suffers from an enemy artificial intelligence that is not only stupid, but really unsuitable for the context in which it has fallen, which would encourage the use of alternatives to shootings or, at least, the use of a cover system. (yes, there are these too).

The point is that the enemy AI is so elementary that it doesn't think about any solution other than charging it head down, which is only a problem in the very early stages of the game. that is when you do not have a party and the weapons are still those offered to us at the start of the game. It really takes less than half an hour for the situation to change forever, actually going to become more and more unbalanced when, already after the completion of the first narrative arc, our party will consist of at least two of the main protagonists, fully enhanced by us and , therefore, unstoppable for the enemies.

If from the artistic point of view Weird West is really worthy of praise, thanks to the style that now refers directly to Arkane (we are talking about tapered faces , narrow eyes, "angular" character designs and all the rest), on the other hand there is a dated technical sector and, in some ways, just unworthy of what is the artistic caliber fielded by the team.

Weird West is a title where the technical refinements are few, the animations are clunky, and the overall cleanliness is very low. Sometimes we see bad clipping episodes, other times tedious and inexplicable slowdowns (and we played it on PS5), but also absurd situations such as objects that explode by themselves and for unspecified reasons, or characters who for a moment of getting stuck during their scripted patrols.

It even happened to us that a key object for a quest disappeared from the menu to end up who knows where, forcing us to a tedious loading with consequent restart of a section just cleaned of enemies. In short, not quite what one would expect from a game that boasts a veteran development team such as WolfEye Studios is.

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