Weird West was anticipated by a few people I talked to, but personally, I hadn’t heard about it until it was released via the Xbox Game Pass on launch day on March 31, 2022. Shame on me. At first glance, I thought it was going to be like Diablo in a wild west setting, but I was a little wrong about that. Weird West was developed by WolfEye Studios and was published by Devolver Digital. What is it actually like, and is it worth playing? Let’s jump right into it.
Because I thought it would be a bit like Diablo, I thought that upon starting the game, I was going to be creating a character and selecting a class. However, Weird West is entirely single-player, and you get one pre-made character to play, and there are no classes to choose from. You just start the game and follow the story of a woman who is chasing her husband, who disappeared. Update: There are actually five chapters, and each has its own playable character, so the original statement is not entirely correct. This was not clear early in the game, but worth mentioning regardless.
Weird West is not what I expected
The setting itself is heavily western-styled but with some twists here and there. There seems to be some technology that wasn’t there in the age of the Wild West, and the game involves occultism, monsters, zombies, and other weird encounters, hence the name Weird West. This might not be a novel type of setting, but it’s thought through, and it feels like they created the world and story with a lot of care.
During my first hours of the game, I couldn’t think of another game I could directly compare it with. I suppose the best kind of comparison one could make is to say it feels a bit like a classic Fallout or Wasteland title, just entirely without round-based tactics. It’s full-own action, and while you can’t create or alter your character, which is a low blow in itself, at least you are able to pick companions to join your crew to aid you in fights.
Weird West gives the player a story to follow, but there are also some side-quests and seemingly endless numbers of repetitive bounty missions. The bounties are not bad in themselves. It just quickly feels like you’ve been at the same desert city or silver mine a few times too often as nothing about the locations really changes. This is a little disappointing, but I don’t want to be too critical about that aspect. Next to that, there is a lot to explore on the Weird West map, but it’s not an open world.
Why go through all the trouble to do those bounties? Well, you don’t earn experience points, but you can sometimes find items in these locations which can be used to learn skills or upgrade your character with perks. Theoretically, you can also earn money, but due to a questionable game mechanic early in the game, you have no trouble farming money at all.
What is that about? Well, you can obtain the key to an armorer shop in the start city, get in there at night with the key, grab all the goods, fast-forward till the sun rises, and then sell the shop owner all their goods, unless you want to keep anything good for yourself. Rinse and repeat for endless money. Even if you want to buy some other powerful items or weapons from another vendor, you can simply keep farming a few times until you have more than enough money to just pay the other shops.
But enough with my unethical exploits of shopkeeps who are hard to wake at night. Is Weird West worth getting and playing? The MSRP currently is at about 40 bucks, and I’d say this is about fair. Maybe not an AAA title, but I think I’m not going to lie if I said it was a solid AA game. It did bother me that I couldn’t create my own character and that there are no classes, but what they do give you is still good fun. If you decide to play Weird West, you’ll get some really gritty, dark fantasy western vibes, even if it’s only solo.
Is that the end of the line? Maybe not, and if you’re not expecting anything that Weird West isn’t, then you’ll get plenty of hours of good fun, I’m sure. Suppose I had anything to say about the development. In that case, I’d keep the story mode and the chapters as they are but also leverage the existing pre-made characters to introduce a more Diablo-esque mode that can be continued playing regardless of story progress. Maybe even with a multiplayer feature – that would be a great addition, in my opinion.
YouTube: Weird West | Gameplay Trailer | Out March 31
Photo credit: All images are owned by Devolver Digital and WolfEye Studios.