TESTING | Evil West: Cowboys and Vampires

After Shadow Warrior 3 and a helping hand on Trek to Yomi, Flying Wild Hog moves to the American West against a backdrop of hunting vampires and other filth with Evil West. From its first presentations, the inspiration of the last two God of War as well as TPS classics like Gears of War was most palpable on the gameplay side, enough to ensure a good stress relief in perspective because here, point of garlic and cross to face Evil but rather large caliber and a gauntlet that has enough to make a few canines fly in beauty. Saddle up for a blood test.

Test conducted on PlayStation 5 using a digital copy provided by the publisher

No quarter with the Annuitants

Evil West therefore takes place in a fictional American West where supernatural and evil creatures exist. If ordinary mortals cannot face it, fortunately, there is the Rentier Institute or IR for close friends, an organization whose aim is to protect the people from vampires and other not very charming monsters. The hero is Jesse Rentier, raised the hard way by his father, director of the IR, in order to one day be able to take the reins of the company but Jesse prefers the field more than the paperwork. Accompanied by Edgar Gravenor in his crazy adventures, his new mission promises to be more complicated than ever because of a vampire who conducts experiments aimed at really dominating the food chain, Peter d’Abano, accompanied by his adopted daughter Felicity who has a serious grain in the head. Jesse’s quest will then upset the IR but not only: the fate of the United States is at stake.

Felicity is not kidding. Not always.

You will have understood it from reading these lines, but the scenario of Evil West does not fly very far and if the atmosphere is good, do not expect to feel various moods during your gaming sessions. That said, the intention of the title of Flying Wild Hog is not there, as evidenced by the dialogues which lend themselves more to (smiles) laughter with characters who are so accustomed to macabre situations that they often prefer in speak with humor and cynicism. You just have to see the first level to realize it, with Jesse and Edgar who blow up a bridge in order to capture a vampire and then walk him in a coffin while not respecting him at all. The characters are caricatural at will and it suits them well, especially Jesse who uses a very flowery language at the slightest opportunity.

There are a few more serious and dramatic passages, with a few little surprises here and there, but we’re closer to a B-movie than anything else, which isn’t a bad thing when it’s assumed, Which is the case here. However, the universe is mainly developed in texts and photographs that we find here and there, it’s a shame because there are still interesting ideas in the lot that we would have liked to see with our own eyes for so say. Despite everything, we follow the story of Evil West with a minimum of interest and the cutscenes are quite well done, whether on the dialogue or staging side. Sometimes that’s enough to have a good time and the gameplay is also no stranger to it.

Jesse Rentier, a very courteous man.

West of War

By playing Evil West, we feel from the first minutes that a certain god of war of 2018 has been there. Indeed, whether in the structure, certain animations and the fights, Flying Wild Hog’s desire to get closer to the aura of Santa Monica Studio’s work is there and it’s not bad, we have seen much worse as master to overtake. Although Evil West remains a student who still has a few lessons to learn, he has reason to be happy with his work because his gaming experience is very pleasant. The clashes, which make up a major part of the title, provide good sensations with a successful mix of third-person shooting like Gears of War (and so many others) and violent hand-to-hand combat. Jesse Rentier is an army unto himself: he has a revolver, a rifle, a flamethrower, a crossbow and above all, an IR-created gauntlet that allows him to punch and slash anything that moves. Not to mention a plethora of electric amusements. It’s not too much in the face of more or less formidable enemies.

If some monsters serve more cannon fodder than anything else, others require a minimum of subtlety and skill because of their moves and special moves, which makes Evil West a game not so nag as it looks like it. Sometimes it even comes close to a DOOM in the sense that you have to constantly move and juggle between the different possible attacks in order to hope to survive, while playing dodges and parries. In any case, Jesse is controlled in a pleasant way and the feeling is dynamic, with a variety of suitable enemies, which means that we rarely get tired during the fights. There are few real bosses but they are on the job.

Annuitant Punch!

Also, Evil West has a tier and money system in order to level up Jesse and his gear. It remains basic but effective, with various points to spend in order to, for example, increase the health of our cowboy vampire hunter, chain electric potatoes, increase weapon chargers, create a shock wave, etc. There are a lot of fun skills that just allow you to renew the experience somewhat during fights, which is always good to take in a game of this kind.

Unfortunately, for the rest, Evil West still has a long way to go before equaling its peers because once the bullets have finished being fired, we are stupidly content to advance from one arena to another. It must be said that the exploration of the levels is quite limited, with generally small corridors and few secret areas to find. Admittedly, there are many chests to loot, coins to pick up, a bit of platforms and puzzles that can be solved without thinking too much, but we are clearly going back a few years in level design, with just detours that take sometimes only a few seconds. We also deplore the impossibility at times to go back so if you have forgotten something, then you have to start a whole level again. This may not be where Evil West wanted to shine, but even if it means offering expeditions between each fight, you might as well do it. In addition, the software is quite short and despite 16 levels, it takes 8-10 hours to complete, a little more if you really want to do everything and play on maximum difficulty. A longer lifespan would not have been refused. Note that it is possible to play 2 in cooperation but only the host can advance in the scenario.

Jesse wanted to become a dentist at one time but his method is hardly effective.

The Gothic West

With Evil West, don’t expect to see the realism and immersion of a Red Dead Redemption 2, but the production of Flying Wild Hog does reasonably well, thanks in particular to its artistic direction and its variety of sets. Old snowy mines, macabre bayou, oil exploitation, ancient mystical ruins, warm canyon, abandoned cities… The feeling of travel is very present and the fact of altering the reality of the past with vampiric elements as well as slightly advanced technology on its time gives Evil West a palpable atmosphere. If some monster designs are closer to a nanar than a beautiful horrific work, there are still some solid finds in the lot and on the gore side, we are served with guts in the air, bones that fly , liters of blood everywhere, etc. The characters are both simple and classy, ​​with carefully crafted outfits.

The decorations are fun to see.

On the technical side, on PS5, we opted for the performance mode in order to have a fluid action and apart from rare slowdowns, it remains highly profitable. The graphics aren’t bad either, despite the cross-gen side, but it should be noted that in performance mode, the maximum resolution is 1080p and we therefore have a blurry appearance at the edges that isn’t always correct. In addition, some textures leave something to be desired and the motion blur is poorly balanced, far too pronounced and unfortunately cannot be configured. Finally, we have some animations with less grace than others and as we told you, the God of War touch is perhaps a little too visible here and there. Jesse often takes himself for Kratos, especially when he climbs chains/ropes or opens chests. This is only a detail but still apparent. The DualSense could have been exploited more but there are some vibrations and effects that have their effect (pun intended, yes, yes). The technique is therefore not perfect and for the animations, it is to be reviewed.

Let’s finish with the soundtrack of Evil West which, without being striking, does the necessary. The music is exactly like what you can imagine for a title mixing Far West and Gothic, with sounds sometimes oppressive but not too much, sometimes atmospheric with acoustic guitar making you want to have a beer in a saloon. No melody is likely to enter the memories but once inside, it immerses us as it should. Finally, for the voices (English only), they stick to the nanar side of the whole but the actors gave themselves to their heart’s content, especially during exchanges with words not recommended for the youngest. That said, the voices are a bit muffled in general, we don’t know if it’s by choice or not but it might displease some people.

The action is sometimes confusing due to motion blur.

Verdict: 7/10

Evil West doesn’t reinvent anything, but it still offers an action-packed adventure that’s a little worth the detour. Thanks to its universe and the dose of adrenaline it provides, it has something to please fans of virtual hemoglobin who want to kill vampires with guns and super-powerful gauntlets. It’s a pity that some more or less consequent defects are there, in particular the level design from another time because Flying Wild Hog has a good base with Evil West.

TESTING | Evil West: Cowboys and Vampires – JVFrance