The Wild West setting that has been used to over-saturated effect has never found a stable audience with me. I will only watch a Western flick if either A) it has some value of importance within the cinema industry or B) it has a few of my favorite actors / actresses. I guess I’ve become too jaded by the gritty, hard-edge and survivalist nature of Westerns to give a damn anymore.
Someone once said regarding soccer films, “When you’ve seen once, you’ve seen them all”, and this dictum applies also to Westerns. But there exist examples that don’t have overtly rough bounty hunters with a three-day stubble, such as the masterpiece High Noon and the stylish Appaloosa. When it comes to video games however, it’s a different matter.
I’ll be more than happy to play a Western if the genre appeals to me – 2005’s GUN – or is a mix-bag of elements and mechanics from other genres – 2010’s Dracula: Undead Awakening. I hope this intro doesn’t paint a misleading image of what is about to follow because, despite my reservations when it comes to Westerns, I found myself greatly enjoying Hard West.
Developed by CreativeForge Games, this 2015 indie turn-based tactical shooter has more layers of depth than most indie productions would allow for. Utilizing an isometric perspective a la Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, much of Hard West’s gameplay and production seems to remind the player of the aforementioned Fallout game. I guess it’s a good thing I’d played Fallout Tactics several times and had tons of fun with it because playing Hard West gave me a feeling of nostalgia and familiarity. It was the first time a Western production made me feel comfortable. And I was perfectly fine with that!
The game starts off with bandits taking off with your wife. You’re immediately put in the cowboy boots of the cleverly named Father and sent to deal with this situation. This stage is essentially a tutorial disguised as an intro, but this is where the main story begins proper. Ultimately, your Wife dies in the process and you’re left alone to take care of your son, Warren. The next hour introduces the rough, tough-luck nature of the game via its challenging battles, ominous characters, and of course, deaths that mark an impact on how you approach each battle.
Unfortunately, Hard West barely moves beyond this style and hardly brings anything new to the table, save for magic cards and perks like regenerating health. In-between the action, the story is told through beautifully animated hand-drawn cut-scenes and excellent voice-acting.
Despite its repetitive nature, Hard West is indeed enjoyable and will keep you entertained, until the monotony sets in, for about an hour or so. After that however, it can be hard to stay focused on the story and game itself, which is shame because what is here is quite solid, if unspectacular.
|Publisher(s)||Gambitious Digital Entertainment|
Article by Hamza