Evil West Review – Old-School to a Fault
Flying Wild Hog’s Evil West is a third-person action game that draws inspiration from the likes of God of War to Devil May Cry, and Darksiders to mixed success. The protagonist, Jesse, is capable of fighting with his bare hands, gliding over obstacles using his grappling hook, and taking down his opponents using his special firearms.
The game is set in the 18th century United States, where the country has been plagued by the forces of evil. An organization, known as the Rentier Institute, is formed to tackle this new threat. It’s up to Jesse Rentier to protect the locals by taking on hordes of ferocious using his arsenal of moves. The story is a mere excuse for the non-stop action, and the characters are largely forgettable.
Through the new accessories grafted on his arms throughout the game, Jesse gains abilities to use in combat. He can heal himself, electrocute enemies within a radius, or fire a powerful shotgun blast. The use of these abilities is limited by corresponding cooldown gauges. The game often throws large hordes of enemies at you, and success in combat comes from the creative use of these abilities. There’s some decent enemy variety here, with monsters ranging from flying demons to werewolves.
Evil West doesn’t include a lock-on feature due to its hybrid melee and shooting-based approach to combat. It is therefore important to be mindful of your position and direction of movement concerning enemies. There are UI indicators to assist the player in identifying nearby threats. The lack of a lock-on does, however, make camera control a problem of its own. That said, it’s possible to perform a dodge as well as use a special AoE attack, making life a bit easier for Jesse during crowded encounters.
Jesse sports a decent arsenal of firearms, ranging from sniper rifles to flamethrowers. Unlike in the Devil May Cry series, for instance, the guns here pack a punch and are a viable option for tackling tougher enemies. Accurately aiming and shooting at enemy weaknesses can deal a considerable amount of damage. There is a catch, however. It’s not quite possible to play Evil West as a shooter, and it’s not the intention here either. Like other abilities, your firearms also require a cooldown period before they can be used again.
As such, you’re encouraged to regularly indulge in melee combat. Luckily, the latter can be an enjoyable experience when the camera doesn’t get in the way. Enemies exhibit some decent feedback to your melee attacks, and they’ll show signs of taking damage and being in a weakened state. Weakened enemies can also be executed via special finisher moves for some extra health. You aren’t encouraged or rewarded in points for being stylish in combat, however, which comes as a bit of a wasted opportunity for a game of such a nature.
The combat does start to feel repetitive after a certain point, however. Despite there being some decent enemy variety, encounters don’t alter or present fresh ideas as you progress through the game’s chapters. As a result, things can get rather mundane in later sections of the game. There are a handful of sequences that do try to break the born, but they too aren’t particularly interesting.
It doesn’t help that exploring your corridor-like surroundings in Evil West is severely hampered by some odd design choices. Stepping over an obstacle sometimes makes it impossible to go back, for example. The player follows linear, marked paths until they reach arenas where monsters appear. Once the latter is sent back to hell, a previously blocked way becomes accessible, leading up to yet another corridor. The level design is, therefore, simple to a fault, devoid of any exciting opportunities for exploration. There are a few puzzles thrown in for good measure, but they don’t appear often enough to be a meaningful contribution to the game.
Boss fights are one of Evil West’s highlights. Not only are they varied in their attacks, but they also provide a decent amount of challenge. You’ll also get to unlock a New Game Plus mode upon completing the game, giving those looking for a greater challenge the opportunity to battle even tougher versions of these enemies.
Evil West won’t appeal to everyone. It strives to deliver an old-school action game experience in the modern era but doesn’t do enough to reinvent certain dated aspects that ultimately hold it back from being great. That said, there is still some fun to be had for action game purists, especially when it comes to combat encounters against bosses.
Evil West Game Information
- Price: $49.99
- Publisher: Focus Entertainment
- Developer: Flying Wild Hog
- Platform: PS5 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher