Bizarre West Overview | RPG Website

The immersive sim is one thing just like the dressed-up cousin of the RPG — equally tough to obviously outline in phrases, however normally fairly simple to establish on the spot. When Arkane Studios veterans first shaped Wolfeye Studios again in 2019 shortly earlier than saying immersive sim / action-RPG hybrid Bizarre West as their debut title, I discovered myself intrigued on the prospect of experiencing one thing as creative as Dishonored or Prey, even when I used to be somewhat lukewarm on the premise itself. A supernatural fantasy reimagining of the American west was not likely novel sufficient of an idea to right away intrigue me at first, however in the course of the leadup to the title’s launch I discovered myself an increasing number of desirous to see if Bizarre West may probably be a hidden gem of the primary a part of 2022.

Regardless of my preliminary preconceptions, I shortly discovered myself genuinely keen about just about all the pieces comprising the setting, story, and tone of Bizarre West. The artwork fashion was appropriately dirty and smeared, the lowly drawl of the voiced narration match the spooky nature of the sport completely whereas managing to keep away from coming throughout as hokey, and the unorthodox nature of that includes a number of protagonists in the identical setting allowed for a decidedly distinctive taste of storytelling. This makes it all of the extra irritating that Bizarre West was, sadly, one of the tedious experiences I’ve performed in a number of years.


Bizarre West opens up with a bandit raid on the homestead of a former bounty hunter named Jane Bell. A gang of outlaws named the Stillwaters find yourself kidnapping Jane’s husband, initiating a fairly typical situation for a revenge plot. Nonetheless, as Jane’s story progresses, it shortly turns into obvious that this model of the wild west is not any stranger to all types of supernatural shenanigans from flesh-eating monsters to vengeful ghosts and bipedal pigmen. Whereas Jane’s story initially performs this beautiful straight — coping with a standard individual merely making an attempt to outlive in a setting stuffed with, properly, bizarre circumstances — the development of the narrative instantly began to hook me past this base description.  

To set the stage of how the story is offered, Jane’s story begins along with her dreaming about herself being cattle-branded by a cult-like group of masked figures, however she wakes as much as discover out that this model has truly appeared on her neck within the waking world. For the primary few hours previous this introductory cutscene, the model is basically ignored and its significance stays a little bit of thriller.

Nonetheless, as soon as Jane’s story of revenge towards the Stillwaters concludes, the sport instantly locations the participant into the physique of one other character — this time a pigman named Cl’erns Qui’g. Curiously, the model persists, and there may be even some suggestion that the reminiscences of the earlier branded character persist from physique to physique.


This goes on all through the sport’s 5 main tales, progressing from the pigman, to a tribal protector, to a werewolf, and eventually one other cultist. Later characters may even recruit earlier ones in the event that they managed to outlive their sections of the story, forming a form of occasion of misfits making an attempt to piece collectively their half in why they had been all individually branded within the first place and their position within the bigger story. It is an creative premise that wasn’t fairly like every other recreation that I’ve performed. Sadly, the way in which that that is in any other case applied into the gameplay itself is endlessly irritating.

To explain how this character-to-character transition by no means fairly gelled with me from a gameplay perspective, I’ve to debate how every particular person character progresses in the course of the course of every a part of the story. Character development actually solely takes place in three distinct methods: the energetic Skills that you simply unlock to make use of in fight, passive Perks that present bonuses to attributes similar to how excessive you possibly can soar or enhance the effectiveness of utilizing medkits, and upgrading and equipping gear you handle to search out or craft in your weapon and armor.

Nonetheless, the implementation of each Skills and Perks are tied to gadgets discovered within the overworld. Every merchandise you occur to search out mainly turns into some extent you possibly can spend to make your self stronger: Skills are granted in trade for Nimp Relics, whereas Perks are granted for buying and selling in Golden Aces of Spades. These things could be discovered locked in chests or containers, held by enemies, and even simply sitting on prime of counters in tucked-away corners of buildings. On the floor, this looks like motivation to be thorough in exploring new areas, defeating and looting enemies, and brushing the map hoping to search out extra gadgets to successfully degree up my character.

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Nonetheless, in apply, I shortly discovered this to be fairly tedious for various causes. Failing to totally scour every location meant I may need missed some concepts tucked away in a room I occurred to skip previous, and even did not loot an enemy which will have been unknowingly holding onto a Relic or Spade. Participating in battles in and of itself is clunky and largely pointless, and it would not assist that fight mechanics and site range additionally contribute to my lack of enjoyment right here.

Most fight in Bizarre West performs so much like a twin-stick shooter, aiming a ranged weapon similar to a rifle or shotgun at incoming enemy mooks from an isometric perspective. Because of this each fight encounter would require using restricted ammunition shops, mainly that means that I might hope that every run-in with a swarm of outlaws, sirens, or ridgebacks would reward me with certainly one of these Relic or Spade gadgets, or in any other case really feel like a useful resource drain with none actual payoff. Fight areas are additionally very samey, with practically an identical underground mines or woodland outskirts making up the plurality of encounters all through the sport. 

To cap this off, when you transition from one character to a different, similar to from the Bounty Hunter to the Pigman, any collected cash, weapons, ammo, and talents are reset as you inhabit the position of the brand new protagonist. You do handle to carry onto Perks from every character to a different, however these are sometimes uninteresting passive skills that are not thrilling to unlock within the first place. Every character will get their very own set of energetic skills to make use of, however even these are sometimes passive in nature, similar to summoning an ally to struggle at your aspect or making your self proof against gunfire for a brief period. Even skills which can be frequent throughout all characters, similar to the power to fireside rifles silently, are reset at every character transition. 


Bizarre West does supply a number of methods to hold over gadgets from earlier protagonists ahead by way of the course of the shifting perspective of the sport, similar to storing weapons in a financial institution or on the saddlebags of bought horses, however this finally ends up feeling like a uninteresting accounting train as soon as you’re conscious {that a} character transition is pending. I discovered myself incentivized to dump all my greatest gadgets within the financial institution, push by way of the story till I swapped characters, after which beeline to city on the following protagonist to assemble all my gadgets once more. By the sport’s closing two characters, I discovered myself not even bothering.

Even the sport’s numerous aspect quests and bounty system usually end in primary financial rewards, that are solely actually helpful to top off on ammunition or medkits, which then would not persist from character to character outdoors of those particular strategies anyway. Altogether, it meant that I infrequently felt incentivized to outfit my character in any significant manner nor was I ever actually motivated to spend time unlocking most of every character’s skills, figuring out that I must begin chilly in a few hours anyway.


It is disappointing that the gameplay itself was so overtly uninteresting as a result of it undermines a genuinely fascinating narrative. I hoped to probably discover extra immersive sim components to counteract the lackluster fight and exploration, however even these fell flat for me. Generally I may hearth at lamps hanging over barrels of oil or sneakily progress by way of an space methodically utilizing silent takedowns, however usually it was simpler to only use whichever weapon had essentially the most ammo on the time. Sure characters would probably present up in battle on both aspect of the battle relying on the actions taken in earlier areas, however these by no means actually felt significant or rewarding, and had been extra like cameos of NPCs that I had barely interacted with. 

By the conclusion of Bizarre West, I assumed that the expertise was fascinating and authentic sufficient to not have felt as if my time had been wasted on an unfun expertise, however solely simply barely. The 5 character tales do handle to construct as much as a largely satisfying conclusion, and there may be sufficient persistence from character to character to make no less than among the expertise really feel significant and typically even poignant. Nonetheless, I additionally usually discovered myself ignoring areas and battles and simply main-lining towards the following story beat to the end line as a result of I merely needed to see how the threads ended up wrapping collectively, in search of some form of payoff. Bizarre West is a inventive recreation stuffed with neat concepts that simply did not fairly come collectively ultimately. 

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