Weird West

From the moment I got my bearings in Weird West, I knew I was going to love this game. This is an RPG in the vein of Wasteland 3, only set in a supernatural Wild West and with a Borderlands-style cel-shaded art style. What a premise, right?

The game has you play through five story chapters, each with a different character. Supposedly, all five stories are going to tie together somehow, but at the time of this writing, I’ve only played the first one (for maybe an hour and a half), so I can’t really speak to how interconnected they actually are.

You start the game as Jane Bell, who used to be a bounty hunter, though now she’s settled into the much quieter farm life. But when her son is murdered and her husband is kidnapped by a band of Sirens (who apparently eat people), she digs up her irons (pistols) and goes on the hunt. This is basically a revenge plot disguised as a rescue mission.

The thing that makes this game so much fun is that it’s so dang interactable. In a video released back in January (and posted below), the game’s creative director, Raphael Colantonio, said “One of our goals with Weird West is for everything that seems interactive to actually be interactive.”

That design philosophy is immediately apparent, as my first playthrough involved me experimenting with which characters I could kill. I killed everyone I encountered, and the game never stopped me. I even attempted to kill the first quest-giver, Sheriff Flora Albright, but she made quick work of me. She’s not as easy to kill as the innocent bystanders.

I also found an optional location called Albright’s Stead, so I decided to check it out. While I was there, I killed a horse and ended up with some really great items, including a Golden Ace of Spades card (which allows you to upgrade one of your perks). I later realized that this horse was actually supposed to be a pre-order bonus, and that it eventually would have been mine. Oops.

I ultimately decided to start over. On my second playthrough, I made it to the first town, where something horrendous had just happened, leaving a whole bunch of the citizens dead. It was some sort of grisly murder spree, and I think a cult might be involved, but I’m honestly not completely clear on the details.

Weird West

Anyway, I decided to help out a bit by burying the bodies (and relieving them of their cash while I was at it), but the deputy spotted me and reported me to the sheriff. I was offered the chance to buy my way out of this pickle for $75, but since I didn’t have that much on me, I ended up having to wait in jail for two weeks.

I also had the opportunity to interrogate a prisoner, who had information about Jane’s husband’s fate. I could either play nice and tell him that I would ensure his protection if he spilled the beans, or I could start breaking fingers. I decided to experiment with both options, and both of them result in getting the information. However, one leaves you with a new friend, while the other leaves a dude with a mangled hand.

Weird West

The point being, this game really does let you play on a dark path if that’s your desire. Unlike so many other games, which railroad you into the limited choices that will steer you through the main story, Weird West just lets you do whatever you want, even if those choices break the entire game.

That’s an incredibly bold move from developer WolfEye Studios, one that makes this game extremely malleable, putty in the hands of the player. There is a narrative here, but you’re allowed to really mess with that and play it however you want. If you want to be the squeaky clean, law-abiding citizen, go for it. But if you really want to be a scoundrel, you can do that too. There are consequences, of course, but such is life.

Do I recommend playing as an absolute terror? Not if you’re actually trying to get through the story. But if you’re just monkeying around and putting Colantonio’s claim of interactivity to the test, then go for it! You’ll be astonished by how much the game actually lets you get away with.

Weird West

I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game so far, but I can’t wait to smash through it like a bull in a China shop, pushing the interactive elements to their absolute limits. Because that whole thing about interactivity? Well, that felt a lot more like a dare than a blurb about a game feature.

But maybe that’s just me.

Disclaimer: I was given an early code for Weird West for Steam, but the opinions expressed in this article are my own.

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