STAFF REVIEW of El Hijo - A Wild West Tale (Xbox One)

Tuesday, May 4, 2021.
by Heather Webster

El Hijo - A Wild West Tale Box art My first impressions of El Hijo - A Wild West Tale when I watched the trailer and first played was just how cute this game is. I initially assumed it would be an easy and quick game to play until I discovered that there are 69 levels to play through. When I started playing, the graphics and colorful aesthetics were well done and initially caught my eye, as the character of El Hijo is cute and mischievous. He seems to be maybe 10 years of age or so and makes me reminiscent of sneaking around the house as a kid to see what I could get away with and not get in trouble before being seen and caught.

The game setting starts out in an American style based on Sergio Leone's westerns, with gangs of outlaws, shady saloons and desert landscapes. The game prologue starts you out in a scene where a farmer teaches her son El Hijo how to sneak around the terrain before they are attacked by bandits who set fire to their farm, destroying everything in the process. The mother has a difficult choice to make on how to protect her son. When the gameplay actually begins, you become El Hijo who has been left at a monastery in the desert to protect him. The goal in the first 9 levels is to inspire the various children placed throughout the levels and escape the monastery without getting caught by the monks.

You maneuver through three environments. The first is the monastery, next is the desert, and then an old timey town full of crime and criminals. There is no real combat in this game as it is described as a non-violent stealth game. As you progress through the game, the combinations of stealth and puzzle solving gets more difficult, so make sure you look ahead and plan what your next move will be to avoid getting caught.

The controls and movability within the game are simple to use and understand without any major tutorial needed. When you need to find something to interact with there is a glowing blue dot and will tell you what to do to activate it, like hiding in a clay pot, behind a curtain, in a bed, bathtub or crouched behind a flowerpot. Just do not get caught by a monk, as they have visual ranges and sightlines that you need to observe before being able to move through the level. If you do get caught however you just respawn at your most recent save point.

Using various toys that you find throughout the levels you create distractions so you can sneak past. You can throw a rock to cause the attention of the monks or bandits in order to clear your way through, or it might even be a toy soldier that you deploy to get their attention. Either way do not get caught. Your end goal is to help El Hijo find and reunite with his mother.

While playing El Hijo - A Wild West Tale, my first impression was that I found it engaging yet frustrating when I was caught, but overall sometimes found myself getting kind of bored with this game as it went on. As I played more, I found it more challenging and a little more enjoyable, but over time I found myself less interested in playing because as I moved along in the levels the scenes and ways you must move throughout change, but the levels are essentially the same with a different backdrop. There is no multiplayer, as it is just you playing as El Hijo or sometimes his mom to make it through each area.

I will be honest; I did not finish the full game as I lost interest in continuing because of the repetitive nature. But once you play a few levels and learn the method to the gameplay it's simple and easy to play, so long as you can keep an interest in playing it. Fans of stealth and puzzle games should have no problem keeping interest, but others may fall into the same boredom that I did after a while.

My wife and I both agree that El Hijo - A Wild West Tale is super cute and age appropriate for kids and adults alike as there is no violence or bad language. I mostly recommend El Hijo for young people interested in puzzle games, or adults who need a game cleanser or break from their main games now and then and want to complete a few levels at a time.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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