Evil West (PS5) Review – PlayStation LifeStyle

If Red Dead Redemption, God of War and Devil May Cry had a baby, it could look something like this Western evil. Hell, throw Gears of War for good measure. But could it be a case of too many influences in the kitchen? Or does developer Flying Wild Hog know how to balance this recipe into a smorgasbord of delicious over-the-top action you’d be proud to take home to Pa?

Cowboys vs Vampires

evil west ps5 2 review

Evil West stars Jesse Rentier (pronounced Ren-tea-ay), son of William Rentier of the Rentier Institute. This institute has been tasked by the US government to protect the fledgling country from all sorts of supernatural beasts including vampires, werewolves (or something similar) and others.

The game takes some obvious liberties with the story, but weaves in a fun alternate reality where the cholera outbreaks were actually some necromancy gone horribly wrong, for example. A war between vampires and humans has just begun because a cult of vampires fears that the technological advance that humans are making will lead them to surpass the eternal blood drinkers. The story isn’t too deep, but sometimes you just want to play to forget your problems and enjoy the simple act of killing hordes of the underworld.

Evil West uses the old reliable Unreal Engine 4, which is buzzing on PS5. There’s no slowdown to speak of, and the game launches with a graphics option set to prioritize image quality over performance. Unlike newer games, however, you can’t switch between modes without restarting the game, which is odd to see and means you really have to think about which mode you want to play because autosaves aren’t too plentiful.

Levels usually load faster than you can read the interstitial text, and adaptive triggers are used for some of Jesse’s weapons. Graphically, some of Evil West’s landscapes are nice, and while the character models are serviceable, they’re usually not much more than that. The animations are generally smooth, even if they are sometimes awkward in cutscenes. The characters are fully voiced, though outside of the cutscenes their mouths don’t match what they’re saying, assuming they’re moving at all.

Cheesing your way to victory

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The solo campaign can be completed in around 10-15 hours, depending mostly on the difficulty level. Note that playing co-op increases the difficulty quite a bit, although those playing on the Easy/Story difficulty level shouldn’t find many choke points where things get too difficult. In fact, once you unlock some of Jesse’s core abilities, it becomes very easy to make moves and simply shock your way to victory. There are trophies for playing certain modes in an effort to highlight the options available to the player, but you’ll probably find your own favorite way to destroy hordes of enemies before long.

Also, some cutscenes are very awkwardly cut, making you think you accidentally skipped something, but after playing a few sections it was established that, no, that was actually how that scene was written. It’s downright weird.

Evil West is a bit of a mixed genre. While Jesse has a number of guns at his disposal, he also has a powerful melee weapon and even a flamethrower later on. So, this can be described as a third person shooter beat ’em up action game, although you are mostly free to play it however you like.

Honestly, after unlocking the ability to drag enemies, instantly stunning them with electricity, and then with a series of punches (with pinball-like sound effects, to boot), it becomes so tempting to just stick with this strategy winning, but then you’d be lost juggling enemies in the air or crashing them into each other like bowling pins. There are plenty of options for taking out enemies, and since most of them don’t fight too much on the lower difficulties, it’s really up to you to decide which method is the most fun.

Evil West clearly draws inspiration from many older games. Some of these aren’t necessarily a good thing. For example, there are invisible walls throughout the adventure, rather than having the environment as an impassable obstacle to guide the player in a certain direction. In many places an obvious battle is about to take place, as you can see the enemies within a fenced area. However, shooting anyone before entering the area is strictly prohibited. Even if you manage to find a good angle, if you have yet to break into a fight, enemies are protected by a barrier that renders your projectiles useless. This indicates level design issues, but since most enemies are susceptible to all of Jesse’s attacks, it’s not a huge concern.

Co-op is fun… when it works

Another issue we encountered during our time with Evil West involved co-op. It took a couple of tries to connect to a session, even though it was done through an invite system. Player two can load their character’s latest build from the single player campaign, however, progress is only saved for whoever is the host and playing as player one.

Both players take control of their copy of Jesse, and of course the cutscenes are not changed to account for two players. There’s also no drop-in/drop-out co-op like we’ve seen in other recent games. So if you’re having trouble connecting or need to leave, the only wait for you to join your friend again is to get them back to the main menu and invite you again.

We also encountered a glitch where player two was stuck on a perk selection screen with no perk points to purchase the required upgrade, and there was also no way to exit the menu. Once player one hit another cinematic, things were fine, with the exception of the first new cinematic playing with no sound. Little things like this are hardly a deal breaker, but they are annoying at the moment.

Evil West is a fun, fast-paced, blood-soaked, testosterone-fueled action game with a lot to like. There’s a certain old-school charm, but at the same time, some old-school frustrations. When co-op works, it’s fun, even if it’s not at all necessary to enjoy the game on its own merits. When you’re going through the holiday season and want something to play that’s a little nonsensical and fun at the same time, then Evil West should be on your must-play list.

7.5 Bronze trophy

  • Funny and senseless action
  • Various combat options
  • Online co-op for the entire campaign

  • Some ancient game mechanics
  • Easy cheesy fight
  • Co-op membership is not reliable
  • Some embarrassing film cuts

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