I’ve been guilty of falling for hype trains and flashy game trailers all too often. Most times these have to led to disappointment and annoyance at the final product. Despite this, I fell for Evil West’s PR train from day one. Its flashy trailers, its awesome cowboy meets Blade main character and its gorgeous looking first play videos. I’m happy to report that this time around, I was pleasantly surprised.

Evil West is a third person shooter/brawler in which you play as Jesse Rentier, a cowboy vampire hunter. You work for the Rentier Institute, which your father runs. The Institute has existed since the beginning of the 18th century and has been responsible for eradicating numerous vampire threats to America. All of this is done in secret and the actual existence of vampires is a closely guarded secret, known only to the Institute and certain high ranking members of government. All incidents involving them are covered up and dealt with covertly by Institute operatives.

As Jesse you’re tasked with stopping a new vampire threat, one more deadly than ever before. To accomplish this task Jesse has an arsenal of time period appropriate weapons, such as pistols and lever action rifles as well as some not so conventional contraptions, such as lightning infused gauntlets, courtesy of the Institute’s R&D department. Throughout the campaign you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade these gadgets and weapons, adding additional perks and changing the way they behave by spending cash you find out in the wild. This isn’t to say Jesse himself doesn’t have some skills of his own.

As is typical with this genre of game, there is a levelling system which allows you to unlock new abilities for Jesse. These can range from melee combos utilising his gauntlets to the ability to slow down time when aiming his revolver or rifles, very reminiscent of deadeye mode of Red Dead fame.

As you progress throughout the campaign you’ll also encounter new allies and characters to interact with. Some will provide story progression and lore exposition, others new skills and tools needed to complete tasks.

The level design of Evil West reminds me a lot of Gears of War, they’re mostly linear paths through the area with the occasional hidden stash of cash or health if you take diversions from the main path, but ultimately these diversions end up leading you back to the main route anyway so there isn’t really any free roam involved. This can at times make the game feel almost like a rail shooter. Thankfully this feeling is rare as the levels are mostly large enough to not feel claustrophobic and the path feel like a natural one, rather than one forced upon you by hidden walls and unreachable out of bound areas.

Combat feels good in Evil West, allowing you to mix up and produce combos that combine weaponry and melee attacks, flowing naturally from one to the other. However, sometimes you are forced to use particular attacks on certain enemies to actually do any damage, such as shielded foes who require a precise attack to drop their shield first, but this can still feel fluid thanks to the way attacks can be combined.

Enemy types vary too. From standard human familiars that do their vampire masters bidding, all the way up to actual giant man/bat forms that the elder vampires can take. The latter are usually reserved for boss fights though.

And now I have to discuss the most appealing aspect of Evil West, the visuals. The creators, Flying Wild Hog, responsible for games such as the Shadow Warrior remakes and a stunning game I reviewed a few months ago; Trek to Yomi, have once again nailed the use of lighting and visuals, capitalising on Unreal Engine 4’s power. It truly is a feast for the eyes. The colour palette really varies from area to area and they’ve managed to capture the wild west steampunk vibe perfectly.

Overall Evil West is a visually stunning, fun shooter that allows you to live out your cowboy fantasy, but with vampires, monsters and steampunk thrown into the mix for good measure. At times the game can feel like a rail shooter and the actual level traversal can become a little repetitive but this can be forgiven with the addition of a great story, fun characters its choice of colour palettes. With the recent reveal of multiplayer, this title just got a whole lot more interesting. I give Evil West

7 / 10

Written by Lance.

Edited by Alexx.