Weird West is the upcoming isometric twin-stick shooter from Wolfeye Studios, a relatively new developer headed by former Prey and Dishonored co-creators. It doesn’t take long to feel their immersive sim handprints. In fact, once you’re through the basics of Weird West’s twin-stick shooter action, the same combat scenario experience in games like Dishonored makes an appearance, and it’s a delight.
Do you go in guns blazing with your shotgun and spray and pray until everyone’s dead? If so, hopefully, you’ve looted some dead coyotes for meat or stocked up on bandages in town. Or do you take a stealthier route? Hopefully, you’ve spotted the poison barrel on the cliff that you can kick onto the enemies below, which damages them and allows you to surprise them with some bullets.
Regardless of what you decide to do, combat plays out the same way mechanically. You use either your WASD keys or your left joystick to move around the area and your mouse or right stick to aim a sightline on-screen in classic twin-stick shooter fashion. Different guns have different ranges and damage outputs, and fortunately, switching between them is easy even in the heat of an intense battle. I especially like that Weird West isn’t super generous with ammunition, too, because it forced me to cycle through all the weapons at my disposal quite often.
In my couple of hours with Weird West, it was these combat scenarios that intrigued me most. I began to view them as small puzzles that doubled as opportunities to gun down some local gang members, and in doing so, Weird West’s more immersive sim-nature shined.
Weird West’s puzzle-like twin-stick shooter combat wasn’t the only thing that piqued my interest. It features a beautiful (lightly) cel-shaded art style that feels especially distinct thanks to Weird West’s three isometric view points – far-out camera angle, a mid-angle, and a close zoom. Its synth-ish music reminded me of John Carpenter’s Halloween, which adds a touch of horror to Weird West’s vibe.
The only aspect of Weird West I found slightly lacking was the narrative. Admittedly, I only played a very small portion of the game, so things could change when the full story is open to me. However, right now, the bounty-hunter-coming-out-of-retirement storyline was the blandest part of my time with Weird West. That’s not to say the actual dialogue in-game was rough – I quite enjoyed that, and I liked the side quests presented to me as well. I just wish the overarching narrative was as captivating early on as the rest of the game.
With its distinctive take on the Wild West, which feels like an alternate era where werewolves and the undead were as much a part of everyday life as coyotes and cattle, Weird West is doing a lot to demand my attention, even with a few drawbacks. I’ll have my eye on the game when it releases next year for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on January 11.
Will you be checking out Weird West? Let us know in the comments below!