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Weird West is a down and dirty cowboy RPG | Hands-off preview

by on July 28, 2021
 

Watching a presentation led by former Arcane Studios founder and co-creator of the Dishonored series RaphaĆ«l Colantonio was another notch on my game dev checklist. Dishonored was a masterpiece, and hearing Raf’s passion about Weird West, his new studio’s flagship game, was exciting. Weird West is an action adventure RPG set in the throws of America’s western frontier at the turn of the 20th century. It features gun fights, saloons, horses, and mysterious creatures known as Sirens. With an isometric view, it takes inspiration from the original Fallout series on PC. Throw in some thrilling gun play and an open world to die for, Weird West could be something special.

I saw around 30 minutes of gameplay. There’ll be five playable heroes in total. Each playthrough will affect the world for the next character. It’s a cool concept, but when you see the game in full swing, the prospect becomes even more tantalising. The one hero I saw was Jane Bell, a former bounty hunter struggling to deal with the death of her child. These creepy monsters known as Sirens are responsible and are working with a gang of bandits known as the Stillwaters. It’s a cool concept, made even more thrilling by the familiar aesthetic of Dishonored, with a bit of cel-shading thrown in for good measure.

Weird West city

Weird West: Cool combat

Gameplay sees players exploring the wild west, finding food to eat and items to help complete missions. It feels very run-of-the-mill, but there’re some nice touches to make it feel unique. For instance, Jane found a rope, and was able to use it to climb through a window on the roof of a building later on. Combat looks cool, too. By using twin stick mechanics, the heroes can aim and shoot anywhere at any time. Wolves might start chasing you in the wilderness between towns. Bandits will also come after you from all angles. One area saw a huge gunfight take place, with Jane firing at explodable barrels to take out multiple bad guys at the same time.

Weird West also has bullet time. Who doesn’t love that in a game? There’s a freedom with how you approach any given situation. If you go in all guns blazing, this ability comes in handy. One area in an underground cave saw Jane shoot a barrel filled with poison. It drenched one of the enemies and made the other one alert. She used bullet time to dive off a platform and through the air whilst shooting the other dude. It all happened fast, but it offered a nice slice of combat that felt different to anything else I’d seen.

Weird West Combat

Plenty of ways to approach each situation

Some areas require stealth. That doesn’t mean quiet is necessary, though. The same encampment was approached with caution and recklessness. Each way was fun to watch. Going in with aplomb gave me a nice idea of the variety of guns on offer. However, sneaking in through a gap in the fence showed just how smart the AI is. Stealth is always harder, but if you outsmart the enemy, it’s so rewarding. There are plenty of perks to unlock, as well as relics that improve abilities, such as firing off an entire barrel in one shot.

There seems to be some nice dialogue options as well. One area saw Jane break the fingers of a prisoner so he would reveal the location of his boss. She didn’t have to approach it like that, but it got the job done. Although it was only a short demo, there was lots to like about Weird West. I’m certainly counting down the days until I can get my hands on it.

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