If there’s one factor Arduous West completely nails, it is the way in which it retains the palpable hazard and lawlessness of the Wild West and infuses it with a noir-ish supernatural edge. Because of some wonderful voice appearing and a soundtrack that captures a novel tackle this formative interval (courtesy of Marcin Przybyłowicz, he of The Witcher three: Wild Hunt fame), this narrative-driven, consequence-ridden expertise takes two very totally different thematic sources and blends them each with out diluting both.
Whereas a lot of its world-building is delivered through on-screen textual content and sketched animations, you may end up investing loads of time and emotion into the lives and deaths of your posse of outlaws. Gameplay is split between two distinct views; you may discover an overworld in a choose-your-own-adventure format the place every resolution you make can have each optimistic and significantly detrimental outcomes on the move of the story. Every one is damaged down into eventualities, with fight represented by an isometric view not too dissimilar to the XCOM video games or the current Achtung! Cthulhu Ways on Swap.
You’ll discover a territory map, guiding your posse into all method of Western folks right into a collection of predominant and aspect missions. Some encounters will observe a collection of dialogue and action-based selections, resulting in your gaining some loot or getting injured earlier than moseying onto the subsequent encounter. These encounters are purposefully restricted, however their results carry into the remainder of the sport. An injured or hungry sharpshooter might be much less correct in battle, growing the prospect of them leaving this mortal coil.
There’s an intriguing financial system that exists between fight eventualities and overworld exploration. Whilst you’re resigned to shifting a cursor round a map and making a collection of selections based mostly on some on-screen textual content, there’s nonetheless loads of technique required. As an illustration, the opening part of the sport locations you within the footwear of a father and son making an attempt to outlive by mining for gold. You solely have a choose variety of goes earlier than your licence runs out, and every try prices you cash within the hope you may get a bigger return in gold. You’ll be able to then spend this cash on higher mining tools and doubtlessly loot much more money, otherwise you head to the native city and purchase new weapons, ammo and provides.
When fight lastly kicks in, it’s your basic ‘ways’ affair with saloons and stations simply a number of the places you’ll be battling by way of. It’s a turn-based setup, with every character assigned a collection of motion factors. You’ll be able to take cowl, and use surroundings to outflank enemies or elevation to supply overwatch. Whereas every map is comparatively small, there’s loads of choices relating to technique, enabling you a refreshing sense of freedom relating to overcoming every danger-filled encounter.
Success typically rides not simply upon positioning however on how ready you’re. Having sufficient Ability (which will increase your likelihood of hitting an opponent and doing extra injury in few photographs) and Luck (which determines how nicely cowl will defend you, and whether or not enemies will miss their very own volleys) is a welcome change to the random variables of XCOM and the like, as does keeping track of your present bullets. It solely takes a small quantity of AP to reload, so you may refill your ammunition and persevering with taking pictures in the identical flip. The power to open up additional cowl choices round every map – together with pulling up cellar doorways and shifting tables – provides each gunfight a bit extra depth and aptitude that matches with the noir western vibe.
The enemy AI might be a difficulty, or the sheer lack of it, to be extra exact. Your CPU-controlled foes aren’t the cleverest of oldsters – how they’ve survived on this supernatural-tinged frontier for therefore lengthy is anybody’s guess – so whilst you can transfer round and try and outflank them, most battles do are inclined to require you to whittle down every enemy’s well being whereas they cower in cowl. And whereas there’s a sense of freedom of easy methods to strategy every state of affairs, there’s fairly clearly an optimum path to observe. Within the latter eventualities, the place sure characters should survive in an effort to additional the story, victory typically boils all the way down to grinding by way of every mission till you rating the win. The dearth of a handbook saving possibility may also make these battles that further bit irritating.
Nintendo Swap is having fun with a rising variety of turn-based tactical video games, and Arduous West is one other welcome addition to that strategic throng. With a port that runs tremendous easy on Swap – each in handheld and docked modes – and a set of bite-sized eventualities to discover, its mixture of tactical fight and choice-driven encounters makes for one of many console’s extra intriguing choices. Whereas its fight design is not excellent and the enemy AI could possibly be higher, Arduous West’s supernatural-tinged Wild West shtick presents a good way to get into the XCOM method with out counting on too many random components. And with the Scars of Freedom growth pack included as commonplace, there are many methods to train your itchy set off finger on the go.