When you find yourself in a cruel land, filled with monstrous enemies and other folks that want you dead, it’s best to have some options. Weird West, an upcoming western RPG, wants to give you as many choices as it can. The developers at Wolfeye Studios are taking what they have learned from their past as game developers to bring a new take on the simulation genre.
I sat down with some of the developers for a preview event and saw what players can expect in their playtime with Weird West. The game takes place in a stylized wild west narrative where cowboys, cultists, and unspeakable horrors meet. The focus is to give players plenty of room to explore the mechanics that they want to play with.
The first thing that jumps out from the game is its unique art style. With its hard lines and almost brush-like color fill, the game has almost a comic-like feel to it. This art is intentional, as the developers wanted to give it a timeless feel where the aesthetics are not held down by the current standard of technology. The landscapes that I experienced during the playthrough were: A homestead, a town where no one wanted to kill the player, a town where everyone did, and tunnels at the bottom of a well.
One interesting thing I noticed is that the color palette is very earthy and brown. Usually, I would complain about how everything is just garbled together and how difficult it is to differentiate between a roof and dirt on the ground. However, thanks to the art direction everything was clearly presented despite a small spectrum of color on the screen.
The developers say that they want to bring what they have learned from past games to create a compelling simulation game. Many of the developers working on Weird West came from Arkane Studios, the studio that worked on Prey and Arx Fatalis. That DNA can be easily seen throughout the game, as the developers really want players to interact with the world. As soon as the game starts, players can interact with anything they can get their hands on. Moving and sitting in chairs, rummaging through barrels, and even grabbing bottles and throwing them. In the demo, the player threw a held bottle into the air and shot it like a gunslinger in an old-timey roadshow. It’s not a useful battle skill, but it was certainly novel. It showed that anything and everything can be interacted with.
This became evidently clear when we experienced our first combat encounter. The devs ran across a walled-off town filled with ne’er-do-wells that are aligned with sirens. Yes, actual sirens. Once a cutscene wrapped up, I saw how many options that players will have in Weird West. In broad strokes, each conflict can be resolved using combat or stealth. However, these two broad options branch out wildly for players. You can enter the town guns blazing and try to shoot your way through every single enemy. Alternately, you can maintain your range and pick them off one at a time. You can even subdue the guards and start to sneak in by hiding behind objects. Or you can locate boxes and stack them up so you can climb over the wall and avoid the starting guards completely.
That’s what makes Weird West compelling. Sure, dark magic, strange cryptids, and a leveling system are interesting in and of themselves, but those are just tools to play around in the open playground that Wolfeye presents. Every conflict scenario in this game can be approached multiple ways and the true joy is finding one or two ways that you have fun doing.
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