Weird West is an immersive isometric depiction of the Wild West. From the minds behind Dishonored and Prey, this riveting immersive simulation is unlike any Western story you’ve experienced. Its macabre frontier is not just a land of cowboys and cattle, but also a land of ancient magic and hideous monstrosities like werewolves, flesh-eating sirens, gold-hungry zombies, and enchanted trees capable of trapping people’s souls.
The game’s main narrative is a five-chapter anthology that follows the lives of five “heroes” — a bounty hunter, a man-turned-pig, a tribe protector, a werewolf, and a zealot — whose journeys are unknowingly connected. You play as a passenger, a faceless creature who, for mysterious reasons, has a new protagonist in each chapter. The story begins by following a rancher who has given up her old life as a bounty hunter but must dig out her irons to rescue her kidnapped family member. What begins as a safe, conventional cowboy revenge story evolves into a story with incredible results. They will help a poet remove a curse in a moment, causing him to speak only in rhyme. In another, you consider making a sheriff’s job after discovering that you’ve turned the prison into a meat market and subsist on the corpses of incarcerated criminals. After a slow start, Weird West quickly ups the ante in exciting and absurd ways, and just as you figure things out, something unexpectedly changes. It’s so much fun to see how each chapter spirals with each new revelation.
While Weird West’s mythology is enchanting, the sandbox gameplay brings the world to life. You can stealthily solve most problems as long as you stay out of sight and hide bodies appropriately, although there’s a bevy of weapons, bows, and melee weapons to tempt you to engage in the game’s noisy twin-stick-style gunfights . Destroy your enemies with the shotgun’s screen-shattering salvo, fan the revolver’s hammer to unleash a hail of bullets, or quietly eliminate enemies with Sentry Silencer. This unlockable rifle ability silences your next shot and doubles damage to unsuspecting enemies.
Each of the five protagonists has unique spells in addition to perks like increased health or movement speed that they share with the other characters. The Pigman can deflect bullets with its rubbery skin, drench the surrounding ground in poison, or charge enemies headfirst for devastating damage. At the same time, the protector is able to summon spirit bears or tornadoes, which can be imbued with elemental properties. Combat requires a level of precision that’s best suited to mouse and keyboard, but if your only option is to play Weird West with a controller, I’d recommend using the game’s Tactical Mode, which slows down time , so you can better plan your moves.
You could aim for the obviously red-colored TNT barrel to cause a loud explosion, or shoot an ammo box and send out a barrage of bullets in all directions. However, I don’t recommend the latter method if you’re low on ammo. Many enemies have weaknesses like fire or poison, but sometimes you will run out of supplies. Instead of starting a fire with a stick of dynamite or a Molotov cocktail, equip your bow and arrows next to a nearby flame to create a fire arrow. Make sure you don’t accidentally blow yourself up like I’ve done several times. If you set yourself on fire, quickly find a water source – a pond, a bathtub, or even a water pump – before you burn yourself. These physics-based interactions make solving the game’s challenges fun for me, although it’s frustrating when awkward camera angles get in the way of my best plans.
The overworld of Weird West is large and populated with dozens – nearly hundreds – of diamond-shaped nodes representing the many homesteads, towns, and wilderness sections you can travel between. The abundance of locations on the map is overwhelming at times, with new areas appearing on almost every hike, although I’m often rewarded with new loot when I stop. Cities not only serve as trading hubs and places of rest, but they are also often places where you can hire mercenaries to join your squad as party members. While some hired hands will help your cause for free – revenge is often better currency than coins – many charge a hefty upfront fee before lending their trigger finger.
But how do you want to make money? You could break into the bank and rob their tills if you have enough dynamite or lock picks. Although decisions often have consequences (even outside of story moments), it’s better to return at night when the bank is closed if you want to avoid a gunfight or a criminal reputation. Using a rope in your inventory, climb the roof of the bank and quietly enter through the chimney. Regardless of the approach, Weird West entertains a variety of playstyles and often encourages me to look at situations through a different lens.
Whether it’s notable moments or otherwise unforgettable encounters, Weird West remembers everything you do. Supporting characters who betray you will show up much later, sometimes at crucial moments, for quick revenge. On the other hand, new friends – like the lady whose land deed I retrieved – might show up in your desperation if you helped them earlier in your journey. These consequences add meaning to even the smallest decisions, and you never know how the world might react to a decision. If you exterminate all the people in a town – yes, I look at all of you morons who did that when you played Skyrim in high school – the room will desert. After enough time has passed, it literally becomes a ghost town as creepy monsters, attracted by the smell of decaying corpses, settle down and permanently turn the establishment into a hellish domain.
Weird West’s best assets are its well-developed characters and deep gameplay systems, but its overall production value is underwhelming. The game’s cell shading looks good enough on higher settings and large screens, but the composition quickly becomes muddy on less powerful machines like my Steam deck. Also, a minor bug was preventing me from occasionally saving my game, resulting in several frustrating deaths.
Regardless, developer Wolfeye Studios has crafted one hell of a debut release. Weird West subverts expectations, turning well-worn cowboy tropes into dark fantasy vignettes brought to life through immersive sandbox elements.