Evil West is from Flying Wild Hog, the dev who made a couple of pretty good “boomer shooters” with Hard Reset and their Shadow Warrior reboot series. These boys made their action games stand out with their beautiful art direction and presentation, compounded with top-notch, polished combat.
They already did a gritty cyberpunk shooter and chopsocky swordplay, but now it’s time to battle Dracula and crew as a cowboy. After doing several first-person shooters, Flying Wild Hog aspires to take pages from Sony’s God of War (2018); an over-the-shoulder third-person action game where the hero flows between melee and ranged combat.
A mid-level Polish developer swinging for the fences by taking from the AAA game playbook is an ambitious feat. Can Flying Wild Hog deliver and prove it can be done while charging for less than a full price? Find out and saddle up buckaroos for a rootin’, tootin’, vampire shootin’ and werewolf smashin’ showdown, in this Evil West review! There’s a lot of other Evil West reviews out there, but none of them are like ours!
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the below:
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Publisher: Focus Entertainment
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: November 22, 2022
Price: $59.99 USD
In Evil West Jesse Rentier and his family are in the business – the Good & Evil Wrap Co. – of hunting supernatural monsters in the old wild west. Having been born into the Rentier Institute, the game’s writers attempt some ham-fisted moralizing and grandstanding on themes of patriarchal institutions, while completely ignoring historical context.
There is an anachronistic female character who’s role at the Rentier Institute is grossly unbelievable and even less convincing is her flippant attitude towards the protagonist and the chain of command. Worse yet, the main antagonist further proselytizes this ham-fisted message about privilege.
Never mind that Jesse is a man who constantly puts his life on the line for others and his best friend and brother in arms is Edgar Gravenor, a black man. Edgar and Jesse come off as real bros and it is too bad the multiplayer sidelines Edgar completely.
Wrasslin’ and blasting undead varmints is Evil West‘s bread and butter and while playing, expect to choke on this all-you-can-eat buffet of breaded, buttery goodness. Engagement with the unholy involves a mix of broad gunplay and combo-based melee.
Jesse’s revolvers require no aim and he will auto target any tick or leech within range. He gets two long guns; a rifle and crossbow, and they function more like a typical aim-down sights ranged attack.
The long guns have an aggressive snap-aim for quickly sniping weak points and you’ll need this automation because foes move as fast as a cow’s fart whipping across your brow.
Evil West isn’t a shooter- Jesse’s style requires him to fluidly switch between ranged and melee, while also being as mobile as possible.
Jesse’s most important gear in his arsenal is his massive electric glove that can fry the spawn of Satan, taint first. The violent vibrations and sickening surges blasting from Jesse’s knuckles give him the speed of a coked up charging rhino on the verge of an acid frenzy.
Some of Jesse’s moves are taken straight out of classic manga Fist of the North Star, as he throws down his own version of the 100 Crack Fist technique as he bounces enemies around the game’s combat arenas. There is even a variation of a devil trigger where players can teleport-punch foes from all directions; making them pop into pulpy, gooey, juicy, but nutritious ooze.
Lassoing fodder enemies, slamming them into the uncaring and cold dirt, or launching them and feeding them charged lead of the holy father, shows that Evil West‘s visceral combat is varied. The enemy roster is also diverse enough with different types that calls for different strategies and demand players keep an eye open for their tells.
Jesse only needs to swap weapons for certain instances, like using a flamethrower or to equip his dynamite. Outside of that, most of his actions and weapons are mapped to face buttons or are executed via a simple input, like holding back or up on the left stick and tapping the left bumper. This facilitates fast and vicious combat where the player can execute most actions at will. This is becoming more common in modern games and help keep the action flowing in combat arenas.
If it is wrong to be strong, then Jesse will never be right. Why deny your partner the pleasure? Bring a friend and molest monsters with massive sticks of dynamite, together in online co-op! If you want to play with your friends, come on in! You don’t even have to knock! It’s an old school action game that’s so much fun!
Regretfully, co-op partners don’t play as other characters where it would make sense. In several levels, Jesse will have Edgar, Vergil the engineer or Dr. Blackwell accompany him, but the second player only plays as Jesse’s clone. Hopefully we’ll see this change in an Evil West patch soon.
The developers could have easily made a generic partner Rentier Institute soldier who was only functional for the co-op module. He could have used the same body and animation as Jesse and only thing Flying Wild Hog would have to do is have the character be completely masked with a bandana.
Something that is frequently annoying while exploring the linear levels is the absurdly scripted trigger points that force the player forward. This is especially obnoxious while trying to find hidden areas that might contain exclusive gear or skill-tree upgrades because some of them must be found and don’t unlock from leveling up. This can make playing through Evil West’s levels a bit of a pain on subsequent revisits.
While Evil West‘s developers may have cut corners on co-op, their art department went all out in visualizing this heavy metal inspired frontier. Image quality is crystal-like, saran wrap clear and the intense vibrant colors are so bright you will hear your eyes dilate.
In our Evil West PlayStation 5 review, we noticed Jesse’s model is covered with studs, different materials, and various mechanisms with moving parts. When his weapons get their energy upgrade, they light up in real time and even cause blue reflective light on surrounding surfaces. The way light pierces through flesh is convincing and is an effect that is liberally applied to most characters.
The creatures featured are even more detailed and packed with disgusting characteristics. Rotting patches, boils, sores, and all kinds of festering and gaping cavities make each one of these profane abominations look like they are suffering.
The only thing left to do is to put them out of their misery and even that is depicted with craft on par with the recent Doom games.
The blood and gore effects make a striking impression and the way Jesse can effortlessly vivesect with a massive and clunky power glove feels satisfying as the auditory feedback of wet crunches creeps up your spine and massages your brain.
Evil West priced at $59.99, gamers get a God of War-like experience without all the pretentious melodrama. Gameplay runs about 10 hours long and new game plus auto-bumps players to the next hardest difficulty and there is no making it easier.
Sadly, there is no level select to retry specific stages to try to find missing upgrades. Once you beat the game, you have to replay from the beginning and cannot get to the parts where you missed something. Hopefully Not that you would know any way, because Evil West does not let players keep track of what levels have unclaimed collectibles. EDIT: Upon further inspection, there is a level select that lists the number of collectibles but it’s buried in a lore menu that was missed during the review period. Here’s to hoping they move it to the main menu in a future Evil West update.
Evil West‘s action provides an intense adrenaline rush of visceral action and gnarly finishers. It can be overly scripted at times- most fights always happen in very obvious arena-like areas and there is little to no interaction with the world. Evil West is a very dumb game that puts markers on what you are allowed to touch, but in spite of that- it is still a worthy guilty pleasure for its radical violence and spectacle.
Evil West was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Focus Entertainment. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Evil West is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.