The minute I saw the trailer for Strange west, I knew I was going to have a blast. An immersive supernatural fantasy simulation set in an alternate version of the Wild West frontier immediately caught my eye. It also helped developer, Wolfeye Studios, be made up of the creative minds behind Dishonored, one of my favorite modern video game IPs.
Thanks to Wolfeye and publisher Devolver Digital, I was able to sit down and play a bit of Strange west. Officially, it was the first five hours of the game and the first of five stories that will be told in this world. While the build I played contained a lot of what I loved about Dishonored, there are a few areas where he can use a little saliva and polish.
Have a gun will travel
The start of this preview version started with a bang. I played the role of the housewife living a quiet existence in a house in the middle of nowhere. It didn’t last too long as a gang of criminals showed up, killed the children and captured the husband. Through rich and eloquent storytelling, I was told that I must âunearth the life that I buried long agoâ in order to obtain justice for myself. Five minutes later, I unearthed a gun and outfit in a shallow grave near an old tree and headed into town for answers. If you know any old western stories, this is a shocking but effective cold opening.
But, since it is Strange west, things got really weird very quickly. I scanned the world map to a small place, spoke with the sheriff, had leads, found outlaws, participated in shootings, and then I met a group of mysterious individuals who could turn into inhuman monsters. a witch who told me not to open it under any circumstances, spoke with ghosts and barely survived an ambush by werewolves.
This is largely due to Strange West structure. Overall, it’s an action RPG with immersive simulation elements. There is a world map with points of interest. While traveling from one place to another, you may come across random encounters. Combat is real-time with an emphasis on cover-based shootouts. This is embellished with stealth elements where you factor in visibility, lighting, and sound to sneak up on your opponents for quick takedown, as well as supernatural powers and abilities you can acquire along the way.
Fortune is there if you survive
A lot of what i liked Dishonored is present here. The supernatural elements are imbued with spooky images of Southern Gothic. Sanctuaries made of bones topped with cow skulls. Outlaws dressed as scarecrows with esoteric symbols branded on their vests and boots. Long expanses of desert punctuated with displaced things like a painter’s canvas. In many ways, Strange west makes a horror-themed album cover feel like it comes to life.
In addition, the immersive sim elements led to creative solutions to the problems. It started with things like using a rope from my inventory to explore an abandoned well and escalated to electrocuting enemies during a thunderstorm to fire oil lanterns at pursuers covered in poisonous (and highly flammable) gas. . It doesn’t exactly reach elemental density like something like Divinity: Original Sin 2, but it’s a good start.
One of the more interesting additions is a reputation system and how to help people reward you. As well as recruiting allies into your own party, the more you spare or help people along the way, your reputation increases. The higher it is, the more likely it is that a character who owes you life will show up during a shootout and help you. It is Strange westIt’s a way of rewarding yourself for not being a complete sociopath around every turn while also reinforcing the wicked, action-oriented tone of the set.
Part of these creative solutions is due to a much greater shortage of resources than I expected. With every shootout, I’ve found myself counting ammo and trying to make every shot count. Not to mention that it helped me take stock of the different powers that I had unlocked. Like the previous work of the studio, there are special objects, in Strange westThis is the case with Nimp Relics, which can be spent on supernatural powers. Some of them are unique, like the ability to throw interactive objects very far, or special abilities tied to your weapons of choice. My favorite powers were to create a shard mine and place them at strategic choke points. On top of that, I had an ability that allowed me to keep shooting my shotgun quickly. Considering this was a basic double barreled weapon, this was a big deal.
But what kept my enthusiasm for Strange west firmly at arm’s length, there were issues I was having with the build I was playing with, young and old. While the level and scenario design was open-ended, offering plenty of pathways and options for stealth and assault approaches, the enemy AI was not completely there. For every case of standard video game janking, like the guards giving up too quickly after being on alert, there were times when enemies instantly knew where I was and immediately called out each of their buddies to turn me into big salsa. .
Additionally, there is a vendetta system where, if an enemy escapes, there is a chance that they will come together to hunt you down. When I returned to town to do weapon and armor upgrades, I was blown over by one of those vendetta gangs. After I eliminated the gang, I was immediately kicked out of town for defending myself. After learning that I was wanted for murder in this town, I simply rolled my eyes and reloaded my last save.
It’s not about discrediting Strange west in the least. Refining such dense elements in immersive conditions is a lot harder than it looks, and with the game releasing just a few short months away, there’s always a chance for improvement.
Overall, I see a lot of potential in Strange west. I love the juxtaposition of familiar Western tropes through an unnatural twisted lens. I love how the persistent nature of the world makes me feel smart about the way I use it. I love my glimpses of world building through dialogue pieces and important characters. But as a technical experiment, there are a few bugs to be fixed.
TechRaptor preview Strange west on Steam with a code provided by the publisher. The game is scheduled for release on January 11, 2022.