In The Game: West of Dead Is Challenging And Addictive

Since I do occasional video game “reviews” and I don’t have any strong feelings about the next-gen systems (I’ll be getting a PS5…eventually), I really should call these pieces “The Casual Gamer” but Conan O’Brien got to that title first and he seems litigious.

But, hey, I got sent a new game to review! Check out the blurb for West of Dead:

PURGATORY, WYOMING, 1888.

A place of gun smoke and darkness, sin and damnation, wendigos and witches. A shifting, chaotic world that takes its form from the memories, culture or beliefs of the souls who pass through. When a dead man awakens with only the memory of a figure in black, he sets into motion a chain of events that have truly mythic consequences.

Step into the boots of the dead man William Mason (voiced by Ron Perlman) and descend into the grim and gritty world of Purgatory in this fast-paced twin-stick shooter that’ll put your skills to test. Dodge behind cover as you try to outgun your enemies in the unknown procedurally generated hunting grounds. The Wild West has never been this dark.

Going in, I had NO IDEA what a “twin-stick shooter” was and I can safely say that West of Dead is probably the first AND best one I’ve played. There was a bit of learning curve for me getting used to the controls as I figured out what the “twin-stick” was about but I found it easy to pick up and play.

I won’t say that this game is punishingly difficult, just that I’m clearly a novice at video games. Given the choice, I will always scale down the difficulty setting to the easiest game mode as long as it doesn’t hinder the story. West of Dead ended up being challenging but addictive. I’ve played games that have made me want to throw my controller into low-earth orbit but this game gave me just enough to make me want to try again…and again…and again.

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The version I played was for PS4 and the presentation of the game was…well, it was just like playing a comic book. Some cursory internet searches all return pretty much the same thing, the art style of this game is HEAVILY influenced by Mike Mignola to the point where I went to the game credits and scanned for his name. It also doesn’t hurt the Ron Perlman (Hellboy himself!) voices the main character. The gameplay was very smooth which really bolstered my feelings about it being a playable comic.

My only beef with the game would be that it gives you the option to skip Perlman’s dialog…which seems wrong. If Ron Pearlman’s talking you should listen and not interrupt.

West of Dead is currently available for PC, Xbox One, PS4, with a Nintendo Switch release coming soon.

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