Hands-On Preview: Evil West is a ridiculously good time

Hands-On Preview: Evil West is a ridiculously good time

The upcoming game provides squeal-worthy stupid fun

Immediately as I started played the Evil West demo at PAX East, I knew it was going to be my jam. An opening cut scene divulges a wild west setting and demons, with great character designs, VA, and a plot that fits in with some good, popcorn movie theater magic.

And a lot of blood.

In fact, the whole game is blood, from the moment I shoot at a demon-possessed cowboy to actual vampire monsters, it’s just blood blood blood. It’s so over the top, that it’s kind of really awesome. Look, I don’t usually condone gratuitous gore in games but in this case, when it’s almost purposefully comical, it’s uproariously great. During the entire demo time I was consistently yelling loudly in the booth, laughing, giggling, or just be completely satisfied by the style of action that the game presents.

It’s a third person action adventure, with very easy to understand controls and gameplay, no doubt familiar to any fan of video games over the last 20 years. The demo has me and a partner escorting a hostage through an infested desert town. It’s single player in this hands-on, but I can see how co-op will work. I can shoot at enemies, aiming for their weak spots or just firing away. If I knock them down enough I can finish them with an absolutely extreme closer. Sometimes it’s a wrestling style body-contorting crush, other times I can make their head explode and their neck holes erupt in a volcano of blood. As I’m doing all of this, both myself and fellow SideQuesting Editor J.J. are screaming out a cavalcade of “YEAH!” and “HOLY SHIT HAHA!” and “AWESOME!”

IT’S SO WILD. And definitely not kid-friendly. It’s cartoonish. And it’s… satisfying? It’s more of a reward, like in a fighting game finisher kind of way, to let me know that I’ve decimated an enemy and don’t have to worry about them any more.

As I progress through the town I can run through houses, fields, and hop across pits and canyons to get wherever it is I’m going. There’s no real “jumping” in the game, at least not by my own button presses — we hop across specific areas that are signified with a dangling chain. Maybe my dude’s too heavy? Or maybe I just need to use those buttons for other things, like special attacks or items.

Getting far enough through town, and looting some homes along the way, drops me down into a mine. There I really notice how amazing the lighting is in the game. Above ground is fairly understandable (we’re in the desert!) but below ground I move through eerie purple lights along gray stone walls, bounce shadows around flickering torches, or even get bathed in a wild and glorious glowing blood red sheen as I take on a ruthless and massive vampire lord. I feel like the dev team decided to go all in on HDR, and it’s totally worth it.

There’s a lot to enjoy from the game, even in the half hour I have with it. This is a demo done right, so I’ll be curious to see if it can maintain its breakneck, insane pace to a full length title. We don’t have to wait too long, at least: Evil West is due later this year for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.