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Game Review #191: Hard West (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: CreativeForge Games S.A.

Publisher: Forever Entertainment

Category: Adventure, Simulation, RPG

Release Date: 03.07.2019 Price (at time of review): $17.99

Buy Hard West from the Nintendo Switch eShop.

Gunslinging Rootin’ Tootin’ Time On Switch

In the two years since the Switch has been out, I’ve only come across two western games, with Hard West being the third game. I do wonder if it may become a trend or a genre we see more of, since the bestselling game of 2018 was Red Dead Redemption 2. Developer CreativeForge Games, based out of Poland, had the idea to bring a turn-based tactical game set in the old west with a Lovecraftian spin to life, but needed some help making it possible. So, as a lot of developers do, they turned to crowdfunding to make it happen. A campaign was set up on Kickstarter back in August 2014, which quickly found support from well-known game developers. It had a goal of $70,000 CAD and reached $94,183 CAD pledged by 4,398 backers. On July 30, 2015, the developers announced that Gambitious Digital Entertainment would publish the game.

Wild West Gets Wicked Dark

The story is many tales that are interwoven, dense and stretched out over 8 scenarios in 3 major story arcs, with and added bonus of the DLC story as well. For a majority of the game you play as Warren, who since childhood has had it hard as hell growing up in the West. That being said, you will play as other main characters, like desperados, inquisitors for the church, and more. All of this is laid out thick by a gritty - and gravelly - sounding narrator who gives Sam Elliot a run for his money. The fantastic cut scenes lay out the story in the wild west, but it doesn’t take long before you see that Warren and his father are cursed, and all the story arcs are steeped in the supernatural and sometimes gothic themes. Not all story is laid out in cut scenes and narrator work, as there are large stretches of reading dialogue between gameplay that sometimes felt a little long.

Winchesters, Demons & Chewing Tobacco

Hard West is a turn-based tactical-strategy game that feels very similar to XCOM in its TBS gameplay mixed with table top type RPG elements, like old school game Dead Lands. The battles and overall gameplay is where I had a blast, and the game truly shines outside on the world map. The RPG element sometimes felt a little lite, but the combat system shines through to overtake those slight downfalls. As for the TBS combat, you can move, shoot, reload, and take shelter behind full or partial cover, but be warned, there is no overwatch feature available, which feels off; but it’s replaced by other options and the luck system. The luck system was something new I’d never seen before, as it lowers your chances of getting shot while behind cover. The cover system is full, half, or none, but it’s all about moving almost paramilitary style, and this makes the game wonderful but heartbreaking at the same instance, since, if you stay in places and shoot at people, your luck goes down, slowly raising their ability to find you.

As far as difficulty, the game is by no means easy. But there are typical difficulties, and you can choose special aspects that will aid you in making your players drastically better in ways while playing through battles. Now, the heartbreaking part is that there is nothing worse than putting two or so hours into a character that’s Will Smith Deadshot-type, only to be taken out; but you come to learn to not get too attached to characters in this game. You outfit each character with two weapons (40 in all) and items like healing potions and magical talismans. Where the game quickly sheds its spaghetti western feel and begins to take a more supernatural approach is the abilities, which are dealt through a skill-based card deck system. You have 5 slots, like a poker game, that you unlock over time. At the start, it’s simple cards like dead eye aim and trick shots, but before you know it, you have abilities that feel like you’re a vampire, werewolf or some all-powerful mage.

I Shot Them Dead Just So I Could Hear Them Fall

The music and sounds are perfectly done for the game, with moody melancholic melodies mixed in with the spaghetti western music being the main stay for the game; but as I said, it can get moody in quick time and pull you in. As I also stated before, the voice acting done by the narrator is top notch, and never gets old. Also, the visuals are nicely done, with a cell shaded look over an old west setting that takes you to a plethora of different places to battle as you travel through this world.

The characters are designed well, with the in-game and bio formats all looking top notch. Where this game really differs from XCOM is the look, as Hard West went for a more down-and-dirty look, with smoke and fog filling certain parts, and the wood crackling as bullet passes through a wall to hit someone in the pie hole, sending blood squirting through the air.

It’s A Wrap!!!

I had a lot of fun with Hard West, with the main campaign taking me about 13 hours to finish—which can easily be extended on harder difficulties, because this game isn’t easy! Hard West was a rewarding experience that I can’t wait to jump back into at a later time, but damn, it’s fun! Lastly, I’ll address the value: I was certain this was $30-$35, but it’s only 17.99; and for that price, this is an all-out steal! So, if you enjoy TBS games with table top RPG elements, and the spaghetti-western-meets-supernatural sounds intriguing, then I’d jump on this one quickly!

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Hard West from the Nintendo Switch eShop.

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*Review Code Provided by Forever Entertainment

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