Evil West is a Rootin’ Tootin’ nostalgic game that made me feel like a kid again
I’ve been excited about developer Flying Wild Hog’s Evil West ever since it was revealed at The Game Awards 2020. A lot about it immediately caught my attention. Despite Red Dead Redemption’s best efforts, I’ve always felt the lack of the wild west in video games, even though some games use the formula of the west to tell a story set in the west. other places. Evil West’s premise is also reminiscent of something you’ll see in the PlayStation 2 era: cowboys protect ordinary people from the world’s secret horrors, such as vampires and monsters. other creatures. My mind can’t help but think of Darkwatch, a game I played over and over again as a kid, when I watched Evil West.
More generally, that era was great for western third-person action games – Gun, Red Dead Revolver, the aforementioned Darkwatch, and Call of Juarez (although Techland released the game in the second half of the year). next generation, its 2006 release year is close enough to the PS2 that it feels at home here). All of this means that playing Evil West made me feel like a kid again in the best way.
Aside from the setting that made me nostalgic even before its release, almost every aspect of Evil West represents how I remember the PS2 games did when I was ten or so in the early 2000s. It starts with a cinematic set-up Jesse Rentier, the son of the leader of the Rentier Institute, a branch of government that works specifically against the forces of evil lurking in plain sight. Jesse is a gunman with an electrified weapon in one hand, wolf claws in the other, and three drawn guns, just like his father before him and his grandfather as well. He has a work partner – what kind of good cowboy would go alone in the wild west? — and the over-the-top outfit that matches his caricature-like physique, and of course, the personality that every top cowboy in basically any western game has.
In Evil West the Sanguines, an underground council of vampires, seemingly divided by an angry young daughter, who, like her father, believes it’s time for her fellow humans to stop hiding in the shadows. , and it’s up to Jesse. Stop her. The story is fine so far. I would be satisfied if that was all the story the game gave me. It gets the job done, and perhaps unintentionally so, it goes back to the Darkwatches of the world. Sometimes a simple reason to kill countless vampires and enemy creatures is all I need. I certainly don’t need every game to have a story that makes the hairs on the back of my neck or brings me to tears. And in the case of Evil West, I can follow Jesse to the furthest reaches of this strange frontier to stop evil.
The game also speaks directly to my PS2 nostalgia, though I’d be remiss not to mention that it’s one of the first games I’ve played that has a full God of War (2018) inspiration up its sleeve. Combat plays out almost the same from a close-up, over-the-shoulder, third-person camera that keeps the action right in front of you, to the finishing touches that unlock when enemies glow orange, to the daring stunts and daring. Blood splatters with each kill of the enemy. Even crossing this wild west is like walking through one of the nine realms of God of War. You use a rope mechanic to get to new locations, destroy chests by punching through their tops, and stumble across battle arena after battle arena in between the more exploratory sections.
In those battle arenas that’s where the game reminds me the most of my PS2 playing days. Remember how, possibly due to hardware limitations, levels are a linear combination of “explore to find a chest or two while you get some extra stories” and “time to battle waves of enemies until a seemingly random indeterminate amount of time has passed? “I do, and while it doesn’t sound flattering to write it down, it’s somewhat refreshing—though that might just be my way of talking about nostalgia. Evil West wants you to focus entirely on combat when it’s time to kill someone, and when it’s not, it wants you to go find a random chest with gold in it.
Even Evil West’s presentation has a sense of nostalgia, from the 2000s-style font to the way it displays collectable lore pieces etc. And the visual style ends all of this. with a pretty bow on her head.
I suppose comparing Evil West to my childhood PS2 games could be seen as negative, but so far I’m thoroughly enjoying my time with it. It knows what it is and revels in it by putting melodramatic combat at the forefront, the story behind it, and its lovable tropey characters somewhere in between. Evil West is, like countless PS2-era games that I still love to look back on, a game I’ll almost forget as soon as I go through its credits. But maybe once in a while, 5, 10, 15 years from now, I’ll think about it and the joy I had in those few short days. Not every game stays with me long after I finish it, and it’s okay sometimes to feel like years past. After all, it’s not every day that the game makes me feel like a kid.
Are you playing Evil West? Let us know in the comments below!