There’s nothing more troublesome in the wild west than an army of vampires trying to take over the country. Thankfully you have a weaponized gauntlet in one hand and a shotgun in the other to teach those vamps a thing or two in Evil West.
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Platform: PC / PS5 / XSX
MonsterVine was supplied with a PC code for review
Evil West opens with Jesse Rentier, a member of the Rentier Institute who’s in charge of hunting down vampires and other monstrosities in the old west. The American frontier mixed with the supernatural is probably one of my favorite, underutilized settings for any piece of media and Evil West thankfully leans completely into it with increasingly horrifying creatures it throws your way from lowly vamps to gargantuan horrors, along with some kooky mad science thrown into the mix as well. The story itself moves at a very brisk pace and feels like an action story ripped straight from the mid-2000s; in a good way of course. It’s all played straight, but there’s an inherent over-the-top silliness to it all.
Again, the combat feels like you pulled an action game from a bygone era and threw in some modern flourishes. Jesse moves with a lumbering weight, and his punches hit like a goddamn train. Your electrified gauntlet is your main damage dealer while you supplement that with the various guns at your disposal. Variety is definitely the spice of life here with the type of weaponry Jesse will outfit himself with, with his outfit being comically overstuffed with each new weapon that gets added to his backpack. Besides your main gauntlets, you’ll also see some standard pistols and shotguns, but also a flamethrower, gatling gun, and a cross that blasts out a wave of electricity. They all have their uses in combat as you’ll regularly juggle between them all during encounters, with (most) of the weapons being incredibly useful in a fight.
As your arsenal grows your fights will turn into a ballet of carnage as you use every tool at your disposal to get rid of enemies. Torching a crowd of vamps with your flamethrower before dashing in to uppercut them into the air, slamming them back into the ground, and then finishing them off with a shotgun blast is every bit the power fantasy this game is always trying to instill in you. Jesse not only looks cool doing his thing, it feels incredibly satisfying to rip and tear through these hordes of vampires as you duck and weave through crowds. There’s a particular meatiness to the combat, with how heavy Jesse’s hits are and the plethora of gore that explodes as he literally rips enemies in half. The only time the fun stops is when specific combo inputs don’t really register. This was particularly noticeable with the “scorpion grab” maneuver that’s a staple in your retinue, where it’d sometimes not trigger despite aiming directly at an enemy and hitting the buttons correctly. I saw this happen with multiple controllers tested and while it wasn’t a constant occurrence, it happened enough in some pretty hectic difficult fights to cause enough frustration to damper some of the experience.
Jesse’s a practical guy which means he’s always improving his gear. You’ll earn money you can use to purchase upgrades for all your weapons along with XP that’s used to acquire perk points to gain new abilities. The perk tree is pretty reasonably varied, allowing you to focus on a specific style of play and the game thankfully starts each chapter at the Rentier Institute base of operations where you can respec all of your upgrades free of cost which allows for some easy experimentation. My only gripe is that it feels like the game is a bit stingy with the amount of perk points it doles out; it just always felt like I was a point or two short of what I felt I should have.
The Final Word
If you’re hungry for a meaty action game to sink your teeth in, you’ll have a hell of a time with Evil West.
– MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good