STAFF REVIEW of Weird West (Xbox One)


Monday, April 25, 2022.
by Peggy Doyle

Weird West Box art If you were to ask me to list some of my favourite games, you’d see a wide variety of genres and styles. My primary love is large open world games with great characters and stories. Something I can get caught up and lost in for hours. I also love short indie games, of course, but something about being part of a giant story experience will always draw me in. Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Supernatural, Western, Medieval, Guns, Bows, Magic - I love all of it. When I was presented with the opportunity to tackle Weird West, a game that brings together the supernatural and western genres, and has Devolver Digital as its publisher, of course I jumped at it. That’s three stars for me right there. This review took me far longer than anything I’ve written before. Not because I didn’t like it, but I have developed such a complex relationship with this game that I’m not sure how to put it all into words. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? Also no. It took over a lot of my thoughts like a strange dream that I just couldn’t put into words after waking up.

Weird West is developer WolfEye Studios' first game, and as such I always look for something that gives me an indication of what the studio's identity is, what makes them stand out in the sea of content out there. I always love covering first games from studios, getting in on the bottom floor and ready to see what they have been working hard on. These first games are often passion projects, games that have been worked on and tweaked so many times, just waiting for their big entry into the world. I already have a soft spot for Devolver Digital games, so I had an idea of what I was getting into and with the two former Arkane Studios veterans that started WolfEye Studios, there is a lot of knowledge behind this new studio already.

Weird West is a single player dark reimagining of the Wild West genre. Gunslingers are just one part of the population in this world that also includes werewolves, witches, pigmen, cultists, ghosts and other supernatural/wild creatures ripped from fables and nightmares. Your job is to survive and discover the mysteries through the intertwining stories of five separate and unusual heroes. It is described as an immersive sim by WolfEye Studios.


The Old West has always been a bit weird though, hasn’t it? Heroes, villains, murder, mayhem and robberies. Stories of heroism and nihilism. All mixed in with both isolation and friendship. Like two opposing sides where the ‘good guy’ isn’t always as simple as looking for the ’white hat’ like the movies would lead you to believe it is. This is what makes Weird West really stand out in my opinion, the choices they made with the story telling. You are basically body swapping throughout the duration of the game. You’re faced with playing five separate, but connected, stories of unlikely heroes. Each with their own timeline, destination, destiny and outcome. Each character has their own unique skills, abilities and strengths. Sadly, I was never able to really maximize the characters before the story ended and was moved onto the next one.

Starting as a bounty hunter, Jane Bell, I was trying to locate my missing husband. At the end of her arc, I became Cl'erns Qui'g, recently transformed into a Pigman and started his own story. He doesn’t remember who is or how he got there. Next is Across Rivers, a member of the Lost Fire Nation. This character is based on the real-life Anishinaabe Indigenous people and was written by Elizabeth LaPensée (of Anishinaabe descent). Fourth is the story of Desidério Ríos, sharp-shooting werewolf prophesied to lead his people against a greed demon, and finally you play as a witch initiate who is there to stitch together the stories of the previous four. I liked the idea of seeing the world through the eyes of the different characters and their unique perspectives. I think this can speak to the real-world idea of never knowing what someone else’s experiences are and that we should never really assume we know someone’s story.

As you play the subsequent characters, you can meet your previous incarnations and ask them to join you. Depending on your moral standing in the game, they may or may not join you. They all seem to already ‘know’ you, although this isn’t really fully explored. Having them join you for missions is a good idea as they are often higher skilled than your default beginner partners for each story. Another benefit to having the previous played characters join you is that you will have access to your previous inventory as well. This is a huge benefit. Since your companions are essentially glorified pack mules, I would have like to have seen an easier way to navigate inventories implemented in the game. It was a bit cumbersome.

Quests alternate between mundane and outlandish. You could be pressuring a barkeep for intel about a roving gang, the next mission might have you tracking down mystical ingredients. Sometimes they are fetch quests, others are search and destroy. All the normal quests you’d find in an RPG style game. You choose how you play your story lines to a certain degree as well, run and gun or stealth for example. You can pick the skills and abilities you open and level up with each character. Some of the characters are a bit more defined and streamlined than others though. The Pigman is clearly built to be a brawler and the cultist is based in the magic realm for example.

Traveling through towns and across the map, you’ll encounter all sorts of natural and supernatural things that you must navigate to complete your missions. I use navigate versus beat or destroy because sometimes it’s easier to make deals with them, to barter or talk your way out of a situation rather than fight your way out. This is a strategic choice, especially if you are under skilled or don’t have much ammo (a common thing I found). Townsfolk you encounter are just as likely to be dealing and trading in magical items and spells as they are more traditional western fare like skins or ore. Magic is an everyday occurrence, and the lawmen in town can sling lightning and fireballs as well as bullets.


The map/landscape in Weird West is vast and varied. There are plains, mountains, rivers and even caves and mines to delve into. You can also discover entire ghost towns to explore, looting and maybe even helping spirits with missions. Moving around the world can be done in primarily two ways, by foot or by horse. Horses are expensive so you might spend a lot of time on foot. Unless, of course, you want to steal a horse and risk going to jail (which I did on a few occasions). The biggest issue with a stolen horse is that they won’t stay with you once you steal them. At the first stop you make the horse will run away, leaving you stranded and travelling on foot again. There is no fast travel in the game, you simply pick where you want to go, and your loading screen will take you to that point. Most often you will be stopped before you get to your destination by an in-world event. This might be something harmless like a travelling group that has wares for sale, or something more nefarious like a wolf pack or bandits. Save often while travelling in the world, especially at the beginning. You will die and respawn at your last save point. This could be quite a distance away and may also mean you have to craft and loot things you’ve done since your last save as well.

Maps are strewn with exploding barrels of TNT or oil cans lit on fire, poisonous clouds and toxic puddles; besides the people, creatures and animals you encounter. The ways you kill and die have many variations. One of my favourites was when I encountered a group in a room sleeping. I snuck in, piled up a stack of dynamite and lit it. I honestly wasn’t expecting the result I got. The explosion was spectacular. The environment is also an active part of the gameplay. The wind will direct flames, so you can create a path to set up explosions for example. You can use strategically placed oil or TNT in the same way to create chain reactions. You can even light tornadoes on fire. Water will conduct electricity but also put out fuses. This was a fun dynamic to play with. Trying to create different traps. The day/night cycle also plays into the story. Certain things, like shops, are only available during the day. But robbing banks is best done at night. Some missions are dependant on the day/night cycle too.

The actions you take throughout your stories can also affect the world you encounter as your next version of yourself. If you killed a certain gang as Jane, for instance, they won’t be around to bother another character. If you cleared out an entire town of locals, you may find that it’s been infested by something supernatural the next time you see it. Actions have consequences, and this also increases the replayability of the game. The towns are also ‘living’, things change from day to day. If you kill people and then return the following day, you may see new graves in the graveyard. Maybe it’s silly and of no real consequence, but it was an interesting feature. I did often bury people myself, for fear that the Weird West would have some of them come back as zombies, but that didn’t happen during any of my time in the game. You will also meet strangers through your travels that will become ‘friends for life’ if you help them and they will randomly spawn when you are in a firefight to help you out. On the opposing side of the friends for life, are the characters that promise to hold a grudge or vendetta towards you that you will eventually need to deal with.


The main story wraps up in an interesting way that takes your big life and death choices you’ve made, and whether you were mostly good or not, and puts you into a high stakes event rather than an end game big boss battle.

Weird West had lots of potential; however, it just wasn’t well executed for me. The top-down game play really wasn’t the best form for seeing and utilizing what could have been a more interactive and immersive experience in the world. Imagining seeing the fighting and explosions through a third person perspective would have been preferable for me. Also, as much as the game allowed you to play stealthy, the gun play was often more satisfying. Sadly, the gunplay was 50% circle strafing and 50% just randomly shooting hoping to set something on fire or set off an explosion. I never really got the hang of the dual stick shooting. I also fully admit that it’s probably more of a personal issue in this instance. I don’t play a lot of twin stick shooters, nor am I truly a fan of top-down games. The game was infinitely more fun for me when I was randomly hurling things around or using a variety of melee weapons.

The writing was mostly well done and I really enjoyed the characters I controlled. I also had some really memorable interactions with NPCs, a lot of which have their own stories should you choose to investigate. It’s a shame that there is no voice overs, but also understandable with a game that seems to want to have the feeling of a silent film or graphic novel. The only voice you hear through the game is a narrator that was (in my opinion) clearly designed to remind you of Sam Elliott, one of the most iconic ‘cowboy voices’ of our time.

I did find some amusing bugs during my playthrough like missing weapons in hands and floating NPCs, but the best one I encountered was after spending the night in jail, I simply floated out of my cell and up into the sky. Maybe it was the rapture? Most of the bugs and glitches I encountered didn’t take away from the gameplay as most games will have some silly small things like this. If nothing else, it made Weird West even weirder.

If you push through the game in a linear fashion, you can complete it in about 15-20 hours I’d guess. I took somewhere in the realm of around 40 hours for my first run. I spent a lot of time wandering and exploring. The second run will likely take longer as I explore a lot of possibilities I thought of after I finished a character’s story arc. At the end of each story you get a synopsis of what your decisions were and what each character achieved or accomplished. This gave me a desire to go through and see what else there was to uncover. In the first few hours of my second run, I had already encountered many things I didn’t see the first time, including a super creepy talking doll who asked for help (No thank you!). I have also been trying to use more of the characters abilities as some of these lead to pretty hysterical outcomes as well.

Now, back at the beginning of this review, what probably seems like five lifetimes ago now, I mentioned my complicated feelings about Weird West. Here’s the condensed version. It took me a LONG time to even be slightly comfortable with the gameplay. I still don’t like the top-down style and I never really got the hang of the twin stick shooting. That being said, the writing, the characters and the story kept pulling me back in. As I played through Weird West (and wrote this review) I talked to many people, none more than one person in particular who often laughed and sent memes about how much I hated the game but kept going back to it. I will confess, I wasn’t a fan at the beginning, but now I’m deep in the midst of a second playthrough because I want more. That, to me, is what any game wants for its audience. Something that resonates with them, something they want to talk about and share. Weird West was never really weird enough in the supernatural sense, but compelling enough for me to get past the unremarkable loot and lackluster weapons, just to dive deeper into the stories of five unlikely heroes of their own wild west stories.

**Weird West was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**




Overall: 7.7 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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