Evil West preview - The dogs of war

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Evil West preview - The dogs of war

Every few years, one game comes through that has a huge footprint on the rest of the industry - something so important others just have to listen. In Evil West, the DNA of God Of War comes bursting through but I haven't seen enough to know how well it will use it.

This isn't to say this is a bad thing. Games that learn from the best in the industry are those that can shape it into the next step. Evil West has tonnes of interesting ideas so far but I still feel like I'm missing so much that it could show me.

This leaves me both weary for the future of the game and left waiting to see what it could be like in just a few months.

Evil West preview - The dogs of war

Table of Contents

A small view

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In my short time with the game, I was placed directly in the middle of Evil West, a few missions in. Without a tutorial or any clue what I was doing, I had to push forward past a snowy formation into a mining and industrialised town. Aesthetically, this backdrop is great. It allows the sleek machinery to shine against the cold dead world around it. Evil West clearly cares quite a lot about how it looks.

Playing the role of a Wild West vampire hunter trekking through an infested America, your goal is to stop the spread of vampirism and return some normalcy to the land. Unfortunately, I can't speak much about how well this story works as I saw very little of it. This being said, I could piece together parts of the story through our main cast.

In my mission, I played as Jesse Renter, a rough and chiselled hunter and was accompanied by Vergil Olney, a timid but intelligent companion. Vergil is useful but not as experienced as Jesse, leaving them to learn from each other. You are hunting through the town trying to understand why it has had a sudden surge in ticks - small vampiric parasites. So far, it seems like the story is less important than the journey in Evil West.

Evil West preview - The dogs of war

Not quite a god

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This isn't the only thing that reminded me of God of War. The combat is weighty and personal. Placed just over the shoulder, there's a closeness to encounters that is almost claustrophobic when too many baddies are on-screen. Utilising both close-range and ranged weapons, you can punch one vampire, only to shotgun the next two. There's a certain synergy to combat that is as infectious as your enemy's bites.

With no explanation, it took me a little while to fully get the hang of it but, after it clicks, it really works. It's not overly complex but allows a skill ceiling to make you feel really good at the end of combat. Throughout your encounter, you can heal up by taking down enemies but it won't restore naturally, forcing you to press on even when you're close to death. This means you are always at your best when you are mowing down your enemies.

Evil West has skills for each of your main weapons, allowing you to focus your character on what you like most. If you really like to get close with your fists and the shotgun, you can leave your revolver and rifle underpowered. If you don't like to get messy, leave the fist skills behind and focus on your guns. This freedom is limited but adds just enough to each encounter to feel like your own. These light RPG mechanics are a great way to encourage exploration.

Evil West preview - The dogs of war

The wide world

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The game is split up into a sequence of missions. This allows the narrative a tight arc to follow but also allows you to do some light exploration. Throughout the map, there are chests with resources, skins, and secrets to find. You can level up your character with experience to unlock new perks or upgrade your current weapons with money. This split means you are constantly working towards something.

This being said, there don't appear to be side objectives or huge hidden areas, just alternate paths and secret rooms. Alongside this are puzzles, small distractions that split up the gameplay and allow you some breathing room. They won't leave you scratching your head, rather leaving you a few minutes before the next batch of bloodthirsty monsters.

Despite this, the game is not a slow one. I felt constantly sucked in by something, investigating an area or taking down enemies. The game didn't leave me much time to wait and that actually worked in its favour. It's not quite as cinematic as God of War but its moment-to-moment gameplay seems very similar. Hopefully, it'll branch out a little more in later levels.

Evil West is a game I'm tentatively excited for. I didn't play enough to say I'll definitely like the full game but I saw enough to guarantee it will interest me. We'll just have to wait until November 22 to see if it can sink its teeth in.