Hard West is one of those games I wasn’t sure I’d be interested in playing and upon getting my hands on it I couldn’t put it down. Developer Creative Forge Games has turned a successful Kickstarter project into a fantastic and gorgeous tactics title that takes place in a cannibalistic version of the Wild West. You take the role as several individuals as you attempt to gun down, outmaneuver, and out wit a slew of enemies in this interesting take on a familiar formula.
As is the case with other tactics titles, you will move your characters around various locations and use the geometry of the map to your advantage. Unlike these other titles, forget about overwatch, because it simply isn’t there (for you). On the other hand, what you lose in that coverage ability gets made up for in stride as your characters can move large distances – apparently you can run most maps in only a few turns – and assault unsuspecting foes with deadly outcomes. Cover also plays a large part and can reduce the amount of damage you take by a forth, regardless of whether you have a clear line of sight or not. This makes every move you make, especially if there’s a sniper in the window, important. Every enemy you take on could be your death and one mistake can cost you a team member. The fog of war is also present – I had to walk into a room and get blasted a few times before learning that delicate lesson – but to help assist in clearing out areas you can easily see the layout of most houses. It doesn’t take long to start to figure out the way the AI wants to act, which was often the most strategic, but without big risk comes eventual death.
Okay I’m just going to come out and say it, hoping that Creative Forge and Devolver will take this as the compliment it is: Xcom Enemy Unknown fans need to check this game out. It has this great art style that remembers what 50s westerns were like, crazy special abilities like the ricochet system that bounces bullets off of items allowing you to do across the map head shots, and a lot of strategizing. At first you may think the game is too hard, I got my entire party save for main character Andrew Hardin wiped out in a few turns and was as good as dead for that run. Then I started to plan my moves, think about how I died, keep my group together, and before I knew it I wiped out the town without so much as a healing item. My only regret was that the appointment was only about 30 minutes (which I stretched to nearly 45) and I didn’t have time to see what Hard West had to offer beside that great first level. If this is an example of the basic gameplay, I can’t wait to see the later concepts and deeper campaign. With a fall 2015 release date (which is great if you are upset Xcom 2 got delayed) and an addicting demo I sure hope to get my hands on the full game as soon as possible. We hope to get a developer interview in the upcoming weeks that perhaps will shed some more light on the crazy plot of this game and when exactly we can expect it.