Need for speed

What is it? A character action game set in the vampire-infested wild west.
Expect to pay $50/£43
Developer Flying wild boar
Publisher Focus entertainment
Judged by RTX 2070, i7-10750H, 16GB RAM
multiplayer? 2 player co-op
Clutch Official site (opens in new tab)

Jesse Rentier is a no-nonsense action man; a stubble piece of beef that sees every situation in black and white. He’s the type to constantly remind you that he’s not cut out for pencil-pushing desk work, as if you couldn’t tell from the look of him that he’d struggle to even hold a pencil without breaking it in half. In other words, he is neither sophisticated nor resourceful, but he is solid, focused and capable of great violence. A description that also applies to Evil West.

In a vicarious late 19th century America, Jesse is top field agent at the family-owned Rentier Institute, an organization created to fight a vampire plague that has been nibbling cowboys since the founding fathers. Given the sun-fearing nature of his enemies, noontime gunfights are off the table here, so Jesse goes on expeditions to hunt down and smash the bloodsuckers, along with their pet werewolves and other abominations they’ve created. There’s more to the story than that, of course, explained in cutscenes between the game’s sixteen missions, but your main concern is always to take down the undead.

(Image credit: Focus Entertainment)

Indeed, Evil West takes a “get on with it” approach throughout. The main path that connects the game’s battle arenas is marked with a glowing silver chain to keep you oriented as you indulge in very light exploration, diving into semi-hidden side passages to snag small treasures. A few levels take on an adventurous touch with more open, branching and looping sections, and sometimes you’ll need to find a lever before moving on, or push a minecart, or loosen a landscape with your gun, but very little that qualifies as a puzzle . In some ways that’s a blessing, as Evil West is less bloated than, say, God of War, but it also feels rather short on aspiration.

This conservatism also taints Flying Wild Hog’s vision of the west, which is strangely colorless save for some striking landscapes, not to mention old-fashioned. For example, the saloon bar that serves as the cover for the institution’s base is filled with stock image (white) cowboys and courtesans, while “Indians” only casually refer to their mystical legends. Coupled with Jesse’s aversion to intellectual expertise, jokes like “Welcome to America” ​​when he sends an enemy, and a government official representing state corruption, there’s a somewhat politically regressive tinge to the proceedings. Nor does the dialogue add nuance, as characters growl at each other in sentences full of spine-chilling expletives. The aim is to evoke the atmosphere of ’80s macho action movies, but it’s a clumsy homage.

(Image credit: Focus Entertainment)

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By wy9m6

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