Blood West review

by on December 11, 2023
Reviewed On
Release Date

December 5, 2023


I’m all for cosy games that tell heart-warming stories without the need for combat and challenge, but sometimes I want the exact opposite of that. I want to feel powerless. I want to die over and over again. I want to feel like the odds are stacked against me, and then because of that I want to feel like even the smallest victory is something to be celebrated. Blood West is a game where making any miniscule morsel of progress feels truly triumphant, and I loved every minute of it.

Set in a supernatural version of the old west, you play as a gunslinger who just won’t stay dead. After emerging from your grave and being greeted by numerous undead monsters, you decide to look for help around the desert and come across a mysterious talking skull totem. It tells you that to figure out what’s going on you’ll have to find a some golden trinkets imbued with dark magic, so off you pop into the dangerous wilds with a rusty gun and a whole lot of determination. The story takes some twists and turns down the line, but for most of Blood West you’re more focused on staying alive than meeting new friends.

A screenshot of Blood West

Fans of old school PC first person shooters will feel immediately at home with Blood West, due to its immediate STALKER and Thief vibes. With a huge wasteland in front of you you’re welcome to head in any direction to explore, but will likely be met by more than a few deadly foes wherever you end up. With quick fingers and a bit of luck you might be able to survive an encounter or two, but you’re probably better off trying to take on enemies slowly and stealthily if you want to survive.

The stealth system in Blood West is really simple but incredibly effective. If you’re close to an enemy then moving around will begin to fill a meter that when full means the enemy knows where you are. It fills even quicker when an enemy can see you in its line of sight, but because there’s no way for them to instantly detect you even when they do see you there’s always a chance to retreat and try again if you’re careful.

It’s worth trying to be sneaky because any attack done to an enemy that’s unaware of your presence will deal critical damage, and often that means a single well aimed shot or axe swing will kill them in one hit. Groups are harder to take down without being detected, which is where your rocks come in handy. By throwing a rock you can lure enemies over to see what that noise was, which although hardly a new idea is incredibly effective and hugely satisfying when you pull it off.

A screenshot of Blood West

Especially in the early hours if the game though, areas with more than a few enemies will be too tough to explore and will often end in death. Dying in Blood West isn’t something to take lightly either, because when you die a curse is placed on you which has some particular nasty side effects. The first of these curses might only take off a little bit of your maximum health, but before you know it you’ll be easier to detect and far to flimsy to be a threat in the wasteland. You can remove curses eventually by beating missions set by your handy totem ally, but it’s much better to avoid them altogether and just not die.

One way to try and ensure you live longer is by getting better equipment and trinkets from the local merchant or from out in the world. There’s a lovely variety of weapons and healing items available that’ll give you much more of a chance against all the crow cowboys and acid spitting mutants, and accessories you find can provide you with all manner of handy buffs when equipped. I had a stopwatch that slowed down time when aiming down sights that was absolutely game changing for me, but if you’d prefer a little more stealth or to cancel out curses on dying then there are options for that as well.

Gear isn’t the only way to make yourself stronger either, you also gain experience as you beat up the bad guys and when you level up there are loads of different skills you can improve. Whether you want to be sneakier, bulkier or better with a specific type of weapon, there are options for all manner of build and play style in Blood West, especially when you take into account the wackier unique weapons like a gun that deals more damage when you’re drunk.

A screenshot of Blood West

Blood West has been in early access for a while now, but now that the full release is here you have access to all three acts of the game. I was surprised quite how different each of the acts felt from each other, with wildly different environments and enemies to deal with in them. There’s a whole lot of brutal content available now the game is fully released, and I enjoyed pretty much all of it.

It’s hard to come up with many negatives about Blood West. It will be too punishing for some, and especially when you die multiple times in a row only for the game to become harder it does feel somewhat unfair. There’s also a chance that the chunky Quake style visuals might not appeal to everyone, but I personally think they’re wonderful.

Blood West is not for the faint of heart, but those who brave the wastelands will find a truly special game waiting for them. The satisfaction of actually clearing out an area of enemies and reaping the rewards is just fantastic, and the way the game handles stealth is really clever. The punishment for death might be a little too much for some to stomach, but nobody said surviving the frontier would be easy.


Making progress feels so satisfying
Great stealth gameplay
Loads of options for different playstyles
Each act feels completely different to the last


Can be overly punishing

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Blood West doesn't pull any punches and is more than happy to kill you over and over again, but it makes overcoming the odds so satisfying.