Back in August this year, I was fortunate enough to be able to cover the early access release of Blood West, developed and published by Hyperstrange. Before we dive in, you can check out my Early Access review HERE.
Let’s recap before we dive into what you can expect from the full release. Blood West is an immersive, stealth, first-person shooter horror, set in a wicked Wild West. Brought back to life by strange native spirits, you will explore, scavenge, and loot for resources, building up your arsenal and gaining powerful perks.
Hunt your enemies quietly, or meet them with guns blazing. For your soul to find peace, you must seek out the evil lurking in this world and overcome the many obstacles in your way. Unfolding this beautifully crafted non-linear story of one man’s redemption is a journey that you’ll certainly remember. Man, what a ride! Will you find your light amongst the darkness?
I’m such a sucker for a great story and I’ve really enjoyed exploring the Native American Indian culture, experiencing a different view of humanity’s greed and how corruptable we are. I was left feeling as if no matter how many mistakes and missteps are made, there is always hope and a chance at redemption.
Surviving this journey is never easy, constantly weighing up the risk and reward, and achieving even the simplest of objectives, like fetching an item, is going to test even the most seasoned players.
Character progression remains unchanged – dispatch enemies and complete quest objectives to earn XP, and invest skill points into four categories: Melee, Ranged, Vitality, and Ranger, and receive a small buff that will increase your chances of surviving an enemy encounter, like increased melee damage, reload faster, increased health and reduced weapon sway.
Even after investing a tonne of skill points into my character that suited my playstyle I never found myself feeling powerful. Sure, they certainly played a huge role in survivability and managed to give me a fighting chance, but it felt very minimal.
My head still spins at how punishing and relentless enemy encounters are. Thankfully, if you look hard enough, you may stumble across notes on how to best approach and take down each of the different types of enemies. I found these extremely useful, without ever feeling as if there was any hand-holding, because even finding these great tips could sometimes be a challenge in itself. Resources like ammunition, arrows, and crossbow bolts are still very scarce, but thankfully, I managed to find and equip an artifact that offered an increased chance to scavenge extra ammo from looted enemies.
Gun combat still feels quite slow to fire and reload, even with skill point improvements, and while I still feel that the fire rate could be increased, it is very period correct. I have noticed improvements in regards to hit detection, and I was able to easily hit consecutive body shots with my lever rifle without the issue of failed detection, and the gameplay feels just as fluid as I experienced in early access, easily achieving 120fps plus on my rig.
The relentless enemies and unforgiving environments are complemented nicely by the low-res art style. This continues to give off those classic retro vibes where gameplay is extremely difficult and demanding. While I did enjoy exploring each of the different locations with their many different paths, caves and buildings, I still feel as if there was too much asset recycling.
My original thoughts on the soundtrack remain unchanged, so much so that I immediately made reductions in the volume of the in-game music, but I do feel as if some of the sound effects did see some love. They sound a lot more accurate, and as an example, walking across the train tracks now sounds more like walking across a steel grate instead of a dull thud. I am still weirded out by the talking totem and find it creepy, however, I now have a new favourite vocal performance from the character known as Undead. Overall, solid and well-fitting vocal performances.
Blood West is easily one of the most challenging games I’ve played in recent years. A very well-crafted redemption story with gameplay that will challenge even the toughest of veterans. This could very well be the next retro-inspired cult classic.
- Loot variety
- Weapon and enemy variety
- Smooth fluid gameplay
- Poor backing soundtrack
- Very steep difficulty curve
- No controller support
- Resources very scarce