Evil West | Review – An action western in a gothic sauce

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Aina Prat Blasi
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Flying Wild Dog returns to gamers' consoles and PCs with Evil West, an action title set in a decidedly sui generis old west. The video game tries to mix the classic vibrations of the frontier, with some stylistic features of the horror-gothic and steampunk genre.

The Frontier against the vampires

In short, as can already be seen from the incipit, evil west he's a bit of a "mapping" of genres, styles and narrative approaches, which isn't a bad thing in itself but can become bad if you can't find the right balance. The plot of the title starts in media res, following the deeds of Jesse Reindeer, son of the director of the Institute of the same name. The Rentier Institute, within this extravagant uchronia, has been operating in the United States for a long time, preserving the good American people from the pitfalls of the "leeches", vampires (clearly of all types and all sauces). However, the Institute is the victim of a brutal attack by the bloodsuckers, who have found a new leader, capable of overturning the dark and intricate vampire traditions in favor of bold (and risky) genetic experiments. In short, the story continues on a broad path predictable and obvious, even if benefited from some characters of undoubted charisma. The strong point of the production, and I think it is one of the main reasons behind the good curiosity shown by the public and critics before the release, is given by this extravagant and hybridized Far West, full of references to completely different ludic-narrative genres from the classic western (whether it's the American lyric or the bolder spaghetti western).

Unfortunately I think this hybridization, in the light of both the plot elements and the game elements, really uninspired, especially on the purely "west" side - which certainly needed to be shuffled and overturned, but which should have found more space and greater depth, compared to the almost forced insertion of quotes on American history and a few revolvers. I'll clarify right away: it's certainly not necessary for a game like evil west offer the quality and depth of Black Tower by King, but it is equally true that the work of Flying Wild Dog fails to bring out any vibration, any atmosphere that is not already abused and taken for granted. Better, however, on the vampire side, where the sensations that the story tries to evoke - disgust, disgust, but also the clash between diametrically opposed worlds and unable to communicate and live together - is much better explained.

One could object, of course, that Evil West is all in all a caciarone title, and that looking for who knows what quality of plot or setting is out of focus, compared to the overall result. At this point, however, it must be emphasized that the structure action of the video game – sort of shooter/fighting game equipped with a skill tree – you don't shine too, although it is solid and good entertainment. In Evil West the Frontier is approached with the help of weapons taken from the imaginary of cowboys, declined in an almost steampunk, made of valves, steam and strange electrical devices. The game phases, almost exclusively devoted to confrontation, can be divided into two: the use of melee, through which to inflict considerable damage and the use of firearms, dedicated to eliminating only a few enemies at the first shot or to help us in the fights. The choice not to insert pistols and the like at the center of the scene, relegating them to a more supporting role, declines Evil West in a fairly un-Western way, without however affecting the user's enjoyment. The action unfolds in a frenetic way, thanks to the “gauntlet” of the Rentier Institute, a kind of huge metal punch, capable of attracting or pushing us towards enemies through an electric ray, and then brutally raging with a series of combos, made up of both melee attacks and point-blank pistol shots. As already mentioned, the shooter component instead acts as a synergistic tool for combat and wave management, which are never too demanding, at least on normal difficulty (which is the one specifically defined by the developers as "official").

Technically flat

Evil West then tries to insert dynamics already known in contemporary action, such as trunks full of dollars or aesthetic objects and some collectable. Unfortunately, however, the maps are structured too simply, carrying out the events on such obvious tracks as to eliminate the feeling of "exploration" usually linked to the search for secondary objects. Again, I can't fail to criticize, blandly but inexorably, the approach to the movements of the character, through completely scripted sequences (push A to cross the abyss using the rope and so on) and exaggeratedly disconnected from the context of the game. The presence of a skill tree, as well as some upgrades that can be purchased using dollars, combined with fights frenetic and full of different types of monsters relieves the feeling of cliché due to the non-optimal success of maps and narration, entertaining and distracting the player from the defects of the production.

Technically Evil West looks pretty dated, except for some flashy and cinematic CGI videos. Unfortunately, however, there are repetitive and poorly cared for environments from the point of view of textures, as well as stuffed with trivial decorative elements to say the least (I understand that sometimes it is necessary to fill the maps with decontextualized objects, but Evil West sometimes seems like a diorama from amusement park, and I don't mean that in a good way). The animations, although accurate in the movements and in the rendering of the melee clashes, are devoid of bite. Furthermore, the developers have decided to highlight the interactive elements in such a blatant way as to return an alienating and not at all pleasant sensation in terms of immersion and realisticity – here I clarify: the reproduction of factual reality is not needed, but it is still useful for experience play at least a certain amount plausibility. musicfinally, they draw heavily from the standard imposed by Maestro Morricone, without the same lyricism and without the same quality (but this is normal). Although they do their job, they fail to recover the general flatness described above all as regards the plot and visual construction of Evil West.

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