Evil West is a vampire hackin’ third-person action-adventure game developed by Flying Wild Hog and published by Focus Entertainment. It reimagines the 18th century American pioneers as an undercover monster-hunting organization fighting off bloodthirsty abominations. This time, evil goes on the offensive and strikes right at the heart of your organization. It’s up to you, as Jesse Rentier, to battle through the hordes and bring an end to the vampiric overlords, the Sanguisuge.

The game has a pretty standard lineup of enemies to throw at you. Brutes knock you down if you don’t move, flyers pester you from afar if you don’t shoot them down, and droves of grunts are fodder for your fists, but the fights are expertly choreographed to provide a challenge while feeling like a one-man army rampaging from fighting pit to fighting pit. That’s what all the missions are — fighting pits that lock you into a small area until you kill everything and linear paths in-between to get you to the next one.

Be it connecting generators, riding a runaway rail cart, or looking around for secret loot, these moments perfectly space out the action while never feeling too overbearing themselves. What is overbearing at times is the harsh lighting, but aside from that, Evil West is a blend of ‘90s B-movie cinematics stylized with George Miller’s striking orange and blues. Although there’s no standout music, the overall soundscape binds this cowboypunk beat ‘em up together with its soft western acoustics, chunky riffs, alert sounds signifying enemy attacks from off-screen, and an iconic bullet shot whistling the end of an encounter.

You’re fighting with a set of iron gauntlets from the start, and as you progress the story for the first time, you unlock more weapons, gadgets, and electricity-infused upgrades. The rifle, pistol, flamethrower, and boomstick can handle a monster or two on their own, but their primary purpose is crowd control and interrupting enemy charged attacks. The main emphasis is melee. There’s heavy swinging combos, jumping punches, an interjecting boot kick, and blocks for close-quarters combat and superpowered pulls and dashes to close the distance. The fact that you can cancel any move quickly into any other move is what keeps the action fluid, responsive, and punching well above its weight class.

It’s not without its flaws. With the backend being buggier, the story eventually spinning its wheels, and later fights just recklessly piling on monsters, the game starts to lose its spark, but the end credits roll before it falls completely flat. At a playthrough that’s about 10 hours long if you speed through the easiest difficulty, this is an intense morsel of flavor with a New Game+ system that invites you to play again while keeping all of your unlocks, or you can bring a friend along with the co-op system.

Evil West does nothing new or innovative for the hack-and-slash adventure game genre, but its vampiric Old West reimagining, pristine combat, and faithful foundation of older hack-and-slash design philosophies marks it as perhaps my favorite action adventure title of 2022.

Evil West is available now for $49.99 on PC and $59.99 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and S.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Evil West.

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