The West imagined by Flying Wild Hog is not the most “classic” one we’ve read in books, seen in movies or explored with Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2 (by the way, you’re just a click away from the Red Dead review. Redemption 2). There are, it is true, the ranches, the vast expanses that merge into the twilight and the revolvers, but in the world conceived by the authors of Trek To Yomi it is the vampires, and other abominable creatures, who dictate the law. Evil West he re-elaborates the myth of the frontier with charisma, brushing it with horrifying veins that, however, abandon the restlessness to become bearers of truculence and excess. In Germanic lands, in the saloons of Gamescom 2022, we were able to test the second act of the adventure, and we were pleasantly involved, inebriated by a wave of blood and dismemberments.
Gunslingers and Vampires
There is a hierarchy to be respected in Flying Wild Hog’s evil West. At the top of the food chain are revolting bloodsuckers (known as Leeches in the game), which they have “tamed” humans to the point of making the Gunslingers their familiars, henchmen who carry out their orders in the sunlight, in those places where monsters cannot pop their noses. In this dusty world, Jesse Rentier moves, a vampire hunter ready to follow in his father’s footsteps, and to slaughter men and beasts without mercy.
Evil West’s swashbuckling soul seems to emerge right away, starting from a script that, despite the few cinematics we witnessed in our half-hour rehearsal, he was able to show off his sharp and swashbuckling side, fully in line with the character of the protagonist. The same approach adopted for writing also belongs to the gameplay: Evil West seems to us an experience over the top in stylistic and playful terms, a hymn to Grand Guignol that wallows in its desire to exceed. And that’s just fine: between exploding heads, rivers of blood and bodies torn to shreds by a single punch, every area of Evil West wants to feed us a nice feast of violence and action.
Rifles, pistols and punches
In order not to waste his paternal inheritance, and therefore to keep the good name of the monster-slaying family, Jesse has three tools at his disposal (at least within the demo): a rifle, a pistol and a glove suitably modified to sign the maximum damage. The combination of this trio of weapons gives life to a combat system halfway between ranged shooting and melee attacks (we also told you about it in our previous preview of Evil West).
Both approaches, to be skilfully alternated over the course of the fights, give the experience a well-considered rhythm, full of frenzy and free from too many tactics. It is a slaughter, that of Evil West, which knows no respite, and in which you don’t even have to stop and think about when to recharge. Everything works automatically, and even aiming is an almost secondary factor: while with the rifle we can actually focus on the target, perhaps to hit the weak points indicated by the interface, with the gun it will be enough just to pull the trigger. And here, once the enemies are staggering, we can get close to shatter their bones, while restoring our health. In short, the comings and goings of remote assaults and releases also respond to a strictly playful need, and is not only aimed at maximizing the spectacularization of the battles. To ensure that this dynamic rhythm and this satisfying trend do not fade, Variety needs to be the most important weapon in Evil West’s holster: environments, enemies, powers and situations must be diversified enough to make the most of a shooting system and a combat system which, in their slight immediacy and in their easygoing functionality, reveal at the moment some edges here and there, especially in the management of impacts.
A discreet differentiation of the experience will be very important also to alleviate the weight of a somewhat anachronistic linearity. There is nothing wrong with proposing an advancement that obeys the rules of a less airy level design, but in some moments Evil West leaves room for very limited interactivity, connected to specific points of the setting: to overcome a crevasse, for example, the game will immediately suggest the obligatory grip to be exploited.
Small, as well as immediately perceptible, deviations serve more than anything else to obtain extra loot, and everything seems to make broth to outline the profile of a fairly in-depth character development system, divided into two different Skill Tree that we can only deepen with a more extensive test.
At least from an artistic point of view, Evil West might show off a good personality: the phases “on the surface” – among the western lands, patrolled by Gunslingers, alternate with “underground” sequences, between caves and tunnels, where the sun does not reach, cradle of those abominations that Jesse is called to eliminate. The demo ended right underground, in the abyss of the Earth where we faced a high-ranking Vampire, in a more rhythmic than refined boss fight.
Always in the name of variety, to keep the engagement rate high, Evil West will also be accessible entirely in online co-op, complete with ad hoc combos designed specifically for this mode. In doing so, between moments “in the light of the sun” and others in the dark, as we navigate between human enemies and bloodsucking beasts, the game of Flying Wild Hog should keep us busy. from 12 to 15 hours. A more than solid duration for an adventure that at the moment has all the bullets in the barrel of the revolver to hit the predetermined target.