A genre too tough to die.
Hard West is a strategy turn based RPG, set in the olden days of cowboys, Indians, and demons? Oh yes, Hard West might aim to showcase just how dangerous the Wild West could have been, but with a supernatural twist and appeal. It’s not to say that taking the theme of cowboys and putting a spin on it is exactly new, but in this case it does feel fresh combined with the genre. Will tactical fans enjoy this dusty romp, or will they be itching at their trigger finger to put it down?
XCOM + Demons + Tactics + Westerns
I’m a huge fan of western games; I also believe we don’t get enough of them. While I’ve never been huge into the shows, some of the movies have really won me over. I might be biased, I grew up in Arizona, about 20 minutes or so from the well-known Tombstone. So it’s safe to say, I’m pretty well versed in the theme at play here. Of course, I’ve never had to experience demons and the supernatural elements at play, but fair enough this is what makes the game stand apart from the scant few western games there are.
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
How long to beat: 10+ hours
Warren and his family will see the worst of times as they battle against greed, lust, and evil. Yeah the ideas at play here are ever present and feel much like any western game would. What starts as a story of trying to make it big like people did back in those days, it’s anything but a good time for the family. It all begins rather nice but then add in people playing for keeps (and souls), and players know they’re in for a devilish time.
The core components of gameplay here are much like X-com. Players have a turned based action to task various characters on the battlefield and move, shoot, sneak, and rescue people. As it becomes the enemies turn, the action plays out and the damage is dealt with obvious reaction and strategy to add in response. Sometimes characters can hide behind environmental objects they can open to offer more cover, other times they are left out in the open. Sneaking up on some enemies in the maps can even allow the ability to have them “stick ‘em up” and they lose their turn as held by gunpoint from one of the characters. Ricocheting bullets and other abilities comes into play as well and adding all these together give Hard West a bit of fun edge in what otherwise could be a fairly safe and typical strategy RPG.
Luck plays a huge part in the game as each time shot at, luck goes down, increasing the chance of getting hit, getting hit increases luck, and using special moves uses luck. So balance between moving to cover, using abilities, and knowing when to just pass a turn can be a critical moment. Death can come quick, as characters and enemies don’t have long, arduous life bars to drain. A few good shots and “six feet under” might just be the name of a new best friend.
When not involved in combat, players will be on the over world map, where conversation boxes run prevalent, gold mining, and other aspects that kick in later. It’s what I would call the conversation and most dialog driven story moments aside from what is seen during combat scenarios. Moving the player icon from point to point, doing side content like panning for gold with equipment and making choices to determine which way the conversation flows. It’s not really graphically pleasing as it comes off looking pretty basic, but the real shine to the graphics is definitely saved for the combat moments.
Unique as they come
Hard West does a ton of things right in my book. It offers quite a few of what I would call mini campaigns that not only keep the player engaged, but constantly add new elements to gameplay while progressing the storyline. It’s a pro and a con, as every time a new story section is introduced, each lasting a few hours, the next is almost as if starting anew, which might rub players the wrong way. At the same time the player is constantly engaged with something new to do or way to play, even if it only feels minor at times. It’s not the longest or the most in depth RPG, but for the price, the theme, and unique style, Hard West is clearly worth your time in gold and offers a fairly authentic western experience, well besides the demon and supernatural overtones that is. Saddle up partner, the west might be hard, but it’s also a worthy, fun time.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.