Evil West is a thoroughly modern third person shooter that leans heavily on classic gameplay mechanics from the past to create a unique if not genre-breaking experience that will appeal to those who like lots of action piled on top of even more action.
Set in an old western type of twisted universe, players will take on the role of Jesse Rentier, a vampire hunter from a famous family who uses both ranged weaponry and up close and personal combat to fight armies of undead monsters and higher-level vampires alike.
With so many combat options and a skill tree that lets players add points and special abilities whenever they level up, it kind of makes it so players can build out Jesse to match their preferred play style. However, it’s best when players use a variety of different weapons and combos. It also seems to be somewhat weighted towards more melee-based attacks to the point that even those who enjoy shooting will very often need to resort to fists as they get constantly overwhelmed by hordes of monsters.
The plot is interesting enough that players will feel at least somewhat compelled to keep persevering through Evil West so they can find out how everything will eventually turn out. There is even a dramatic conclusion where you need to rescue President Grover Cleveland from an undead ambush. I can’t be sure, but this might the first time that President Cleveland has appeared in a video game, so that was kind of a nice touch.
Really, the plot does not matter as much as the gameplay, which is extremely fluid and action-packed. Jesse’s main weapon is a gauntlet that builds up and discharges electrical energy for incredible amounts of damage. Unleashing a flurry of blows against undead monsters is always a satisfying experience in Evil West. Plus, you can learn special attacks where Jesse can warp across the battlefield to instantly close the distance with ranged enemies, stun undead monsters in their tracks or kick them into environmental hazards for really cool finishing moves that might just add area of effect damage to others standing nearby. There are a ton of combat moves to learn, and if you master them all, then you will almost never be out of options even when Jesse finds himself incredibly outnumbered, which is most of the time.
Jesse also has a revolver which is a useful tool for softening up strong enemies or eliminating weaker ones. The pistol even has some interesting finishing moves like shooting a vampire up in the air and then keeping them suspended with subsequent shots. The gauntlet is really the star of the show, but the pistol is a nice secondary weapon.
Players also get access to a shotgun as they play which is basically a tactical type weapon which can be used every so often on a cooldown timer. And players can also equip a long-range rifle for sniper type shots. Evil West also does a good job of introducing enemies that are best eliminated with these extra weapons, so here again it’s all about using the correct tool for the job at hand. Eventually, you even get a flame thrower, which I have to admit is really fun.
Graphically, the title is gorgeous. The character models all look fantastic, and you can earn special items to dress Jesse up with that add even more to his gruff style. The monsters are all similarly well designed. Some of them are really scary while others are more grotesque than anything else. Many of the bosses are huge and intimidating, which adds to the atmosphere when fighting them. The levels themselves also look pretty good, although they are mostly filled with dusty Wild West type towns, dark caves and other wilderness type areas, so not very interesting to begin with, but well rendered nonetheless.
Speaking of levels, they are all extremely linear. Yes, they do have some short side paths where your exploration will be rewarded with uncovering steamer trunks filled with gold, clothing items or other resources, but for the most part you will simply be moving from point A to point B without any deviation. And there are also some arena type places in the middle where you will have to stop for an extended fight against multiple enemies. So, don’t expect anything close to an open world. However, since the emphasis in Evil West is the combat, designing levels so that the combat experience is maximized is not a bad thing. It’s a bit of an old-school choice for level design, but it works well here.
Nothing about Evil West really breaks the mold for shooter games. However, it’s still a great title to unleash and have some fun with. Sometimes, we all need to take a break from civilization building and deep role playing to simply beat the hell out of some undead monsters, and Evil West offers a ton of that. If you are looking for a title that lets you turn off your brain and unwind with some visceral combat for a while, then Evil West is a great choice.
Evil West earns a highly respectable 4 GiN Gems out of 5 for offering a modern take on classic third-person combat and gameplay against armies of undead monsters and vampires.
Developers: Flying Wild Hog
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5, Steam, Xbox Series X