Evil West Review – It’s Decent, But I’m Disappointed
At a quick glance, Evil West gives off a bit of a Gears of War with Cowboys and Vampires vibe, with its fantasy Gothic Western setting and brutal looking third person action.
Evil West caught my eye early on, we even put it on our list of notable upcoming games earlier this year. It’s a concept and setting that’s full of potential I loaded into Evil West for the first time, genuinely excited, intrigued and hoping to discover the year’s sleeper hit. Hours into the game I’m sad to say that where Evil West isn’t a terrible game, it’s possibly my biggest disappointment of the year.
Set in an alternate Wild West you play as a Hugh Jackman looking vampire Hunter Cowboy whose dad runs the show until the vampires (or ticks as they call them) decide to dial that shit up to eleven. Hang on a second… a Hugh Jackman looking Vampire Hunter – haven’t I seen this one before?
Keep reading, or watch the video review instead!
God of Gears
What surprised me was some of the similarities with Evil West and God of War’s formula, especially with Ragnarok so fresh on my mind. You run through levels you smash crates you solve some basic puzzles, and you fight monsters using a mix of close and ranged attacks. Heck the button layouts are even mostly the same – well almost. Now if you’re thinking “Hey more God of War, that’s great!” don’t get too excited. While the idea is there, the execution isn’t quite as grand. It also has some dated design choices like audio notes that can only be listened to while staring at a static page in the menu. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat.
Combat does have its moments of fun and chaos but many of the battles are badly balanced, frustrating, predictable and repetitive. As I said the controls are similar to that of God of War but anytime they deviate from that formula they actually get very unintuitive. There’s just certain combinations of buttons that don’t work well in fast-paced combat such as having to click in the right stick you use for looking around to interrupt enemy attacks. That stick and your thumb just don’t want to be doing those two things at the same time. At one point I was getting frustrated with a battle where I was dying over and over again, that is until the giant enemy in the battle I was in completely glitched out and just got stuck in one place, eventually falling through the level and just disappearing. Well… I’ll take it – winning’s winning, right?
Gameplay then is not quite what I was hoping for. The story, while passable isn’t too much to write home about either. The characters are about as flat as the game’s attempt at quirky humour.
But it’s a video game right so there should be at least some visual splendour to go with the experience… right?
I Can’t See Sh–
Well, here comes a Ragnarok comparison again. The problem though, is that while I played God of War Ragnarok. I played it on a last-generation console. It played better, looked better, and ran better than evil West running on an Xbox series X – and I repeat: I’m talking about Ragnarok running on a last-generation console.
I currently don’t know if there are any major differences between the PlayStation 5 and Xbox versions but the Xbox series X version is not fantastic. There are two Graphics modes: quality and performance, and both of them are pretty bad. Performance mode looks atrociously blurry but runs at 60 FPS. They say it’s 1080p but I’m not sure if that’s a maximum target and genuinely – I’m not kidding – this game in Performance Mode looks like an early Xbox One title, and compared to the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One was the underpowered console. Quality mode barely looks any better, still coming in at a massively blurry low resolution, but with the frame rate chopped in half. It’s genuinely baffling to go back and watch clips of last-generation games from 7+ years ago that look better. These issues won’t affect PC Gamers with decent rigs, and I can’t speak for the PS5 but as far as the Xbox series X goes… it’s not great.
The one positive thing I can say is that a combination of snappy controls and excellent motion blur usage makes the 30 FPS mode feel about as good as it can feel, so kudos to them on that one. But on another downer note, the game has some seriously shoddy assets while some design decisions have been made that just aren’t great, like mountains in the background that look like poorly cut-out 2D images with black pixelated edges, or low quality animations used in strange places.
Want to see some gameplay? Watch this:
Then again at other times this game can look really good even with its terrible resolution, but after some hands-on experience I can’t say that anything here looks as good as it did in the trailers. And you want to know the weirdest thing? The game has no HDR, not on the Xbox series X anyway, not during the time that we reviewed it, and I don’t quite know what to say about that. I’m pretty sure that this is the first major release I’ve played in a while that doesn’t have HDR. Is it a pre-release bug? Maybe, I don’t know we’ll have to wait and see.
Coming back to the God of War comparisons I get that at some point in this video you may have thought, “Hey man, is it fair to compare something like to the almighty God of War – A game you yourself has said is possibly one of the best of all time – to Evil West? I don’t know, maybe not, but what I do know is that they’ve released very close together, for a similar price… so from that point of view…YEAH!
Verdict: Evil West is a passable third-person action-adventure game. It has its moments but the package as a whole feels flat, with frustrating, repetitive comment and near unacceptable graphics levels given the hardware it’s running on. I’m disappointed to tell you that Evil West isn’t the sleeper hit I was hoping for. I’d recommend waiting for it to go on a big sale, or to hit a subscription service.
A review code was provided by @GameFinityZA and Koodoo. They asked us really nicely if would mind mentioning where the game is available for physical purchase in South Africa: