Tired of games that ask you to dump 100+ hours into sidequests and chapters traversing huge open world environments? Burnt out on spider webs of skill trees that become useless and difficult to manage after awhile? Simply craving a game that comes as it is, only asking the player to sit back and punch their way through the story against evil vampires? Then Evil West may be the game for you.
Evil West is the culmination of efforts from Flying Wild Hog studio, known for previously putting out Shadow Warrior 1-3 and the soon to be seen Trek to Yomi. This is evident in the bloody and violent fun to be had in Evil West. To start, players are set with the main protagonist Jesse Rentier, working with his mentor Edgar Gravenor to put a stop to new Sanguisuge (essentially lesser vampires) activity in a post-Civil War American west backdrop.
The game wastes no time pitting players against vampire enemies and spending middling time on explaining the story. Jesse very quickly finds himself at the forefront of an all-out war between vampires and humans, which pushes him through a variety of locales discovering ancient secrets, amped up weaponry, and crazier enemies.
Gameplay revolves around a third-person shooting and combat within linear levels. Jesse has a slew of weapons as the game progresses, but some of the most satisfying aspects of the combat revolves around using his specialized electrified gauntlet to pulverize monsters to a thin paste. Various upgrades and perks can be unlocked using in-game bucks or points to make Jesse more effective in a fight. After awhile however, the sheer amount of weapons available at your disposal is such that sometimes they’re forgotten about or largely unused for most of the game.
Overall the combat feels impactful. Rentier is hardly a nimble moving character, but each punch or shot fired feels hefty. The Dualsense haptic triggers are used in limited fashion for this but ultimately the game does well in this aspect.
Outside of the fun and satisfying combat, each chapter is fairly condensed to go through. There are some secret areas with hidden caches and lore items, but it doesn’t affect how the story plays out at all. There are extended lore bits and a bestiary as a nice touch to expand slightly on the very surface-level story.
Performance wise on the PS5, Evil West still had some minor stumbles with screen tearing (Performance mode helped a bit in this aspect) and dropped frames in certain sections with lots of enemies. At one point Jesse became stuck on certain objects and couldn’t be freed without an exit to the main menu. Towards the final chapters of the game, a persistent sound bug kept recurring in which one of the enemies attack sounds played constantly in the background well after the encounter had ended. Again, nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a restart, but annoying never the less. There is a co-op option to play through the story with a friend, but this was not played for this review.
Evil West is at its core a fun romp that elicits nostalgic feels for Playstation 2 era games. The story is not anything special, (the big bad is actually more annoying than a foil) but it’s enough to make you want to play through to the next big encounter. For all its bombastic enemies, the characters do not play into the easy tropes of silliness or fourth wall breaking. Jesse and his crew play this whole situation completely seriously, which lends to the fun contrast of superman-punching an enemy into an even bigger enemy and tossing a stick of dynamite to finish them off.
Evil West is not aiming high, it’s aiming for just enough. It’s bloody, it’s violent, and undeniably fun. It’s a concise experience that doesn’t ask for much of its players, but giving it a play will be sure to stir up some nostalgia and excitement.
Evil West final score: 4/5 stars
Evil West is currently available on Steam for $49.99, as well as Playstation 5, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X for $59.99 (USD).