Whenever I hear the word “West” in any game title, I instantly think about Rockstar’s critically acclaimed title Red Dead Redemption 2, as it has set a new standard for the genre because of its outstanding storytelling and packed open world. Hard West 2 does not have as big of a development budget as Red Dead Redemption, but the game does justice to the genre, and we have prepared this Hard West 2 review to explain whether it is worth your money or not.
The game offers a supernatural setting in which you lead a group of cowboys. It has outstanding levels and audio design. As a tactical shooter, it is extremely important for a game like Hard West 2 to feel and sound good, so it can keep the players hooked. And Hard West 2 has a 20-30 hours campaign that starts off with you losing a bet with the devil and leaving behind a few souls.
The game is by no means perfect. It has its fair share of flaws, but the positives outweigh the negatives. There is a lot to cover here, so without further ado, let’s start this Hard West 2 review.
Story And Setting
The game starts off with one of the most interesting-looking trains I’ve ever seen. It is a ghost train with centipede legs that is owned by the devil named Mammon. After a bad deal with the devil, your group ends up losing a few souls, and the story revolves around you trying to get them back.
Hard West 2 is more of a thematic sequel rather than a direct sequel to the original Hard West. The game has its own story, with its own set of brand new characters; thus, players should not worry much if they haven’t played the original Hard West.
You take on the role of Gin Carter in Hard West 2. Gin Carter is the one who loses his soul at the start of the game, and he is also the leader of the gang. The game is filled with interesting characters, some of which are your party members.
Your companions are Cla’lish, who is a native tracker and a sharpshooter. She can communicate and summon the dead at will. Old Man Bill is voiced by Kevin Conroy, an actor known by many gamers. The story of Old Man Bill is that he died a long time ago and now is grumpy about coming back. Lazarus is one of the lesser characters in the game. Flynn is an orphan woman with powerful witch abilities, and finally, a very intriguing character named the Laughing Dear.
The Laughing Dear is a certified sociopath who takes pleasure in killing and taking their things. At first glance, the Laughing Dear might seem like a character most people will dislike but thanks to his voice actor Adam Gifford who does a phenomenal job in portraying the character. I can’t help but find Laughing Dear a very interesting character. Another thing to note is Laughing Dear is the ideal character to use in close-range combat.
The gameplay revolves around turn-based combat with dialogue-driven quests. For a turn-based tactical shooter game, it is extremely important for Hard West 2 to have an engrossing level design, captivating sound design, and engaging gunplay so it can keep the players engaged. For this review, I am happy to say that Hard West 2 does not fail in delivering these aspects.
One issue I did have with the gameplay is the poor balancing, which sometimes makes it feel like the game is telling you to solve a puzzle in a specific order rather than letting you handle the situation your own way. This is noticeable, especially in harder difficulty modes. It has led me to restart certain missions multiple times and is definitely one of the downsides of the game.
However, due to its detailed level design, players are encouraged to use the environment to their advantage, as players can use their environment to initiate combos and chained skills. You will get three actions per turn, and firing a gun usually take 2 or 3 action points; therefore, take some time to think before you go in guns blazing.
Guns do fixed damage depending on which one you are using, and the probability of whether the bullet will even hit your enemy or not is dependent on range and enemy cover. This really brings out the “Tactical Shooter” aspect of the game, which encourages the player to think strategically.
Character Skills And Abilities
One thing I really loved about the gameplay was the variety. You get four different skills to play around with. Trick shooting, Luck, Character Abilities, and Bravado.
The Trick Shooting skill allows the player to ricochet their bullets from metal objects and hit an enemy behind cover. The Luck skill fills a pool which can be used to add bonuses to your attacks. The pool is filled with every missed shot alongside some other things. Character Abilities are different for each character. Let me give an example of Flynn, as her character ability is to magically swap her location with any other character on the screen, whether it is a friend or foe.
As for Bravado, it is a very powerful skill that can give you an upper hand in battle if utilized correctly. Bravado refills your action point when you get a kill. In simpler words, you will get an extra turn during combat. Players can use this as many times as they want, so consider lowering the health of every enemy first and then killing them all in a single go if you wish to be stylish.
But aside from this, nothing about the gameplay really stands out compared to every other game currently on the market. The game is also missing some common gameplay elements that have no excuse to be missing. It degrades the quality of the game.
I’m talking about features as simple as being able to vault over small objects or being unable to hit an enemy on a lower balcony than you just because of the game’s 2-dimensional design. These small things tend to ruin the immersion and quality of Hard West 2.
Character Design And Customization
All these different characters can bring different advantages to your team. Seeing how Hard West 2 is a tactical shooter game. It does offer character-building aspects and different equipment to experiment around with, and players can buff their characters by using cards. But unfortunately, it is not well executed. Each character is designed to be good at only one or two things despite the types of equipment and buffs you use, which makes experimenting ultimately useless.
What’s the point of experimenting with different types of equipment when the stats I want to focus on are not the strong points of my character? This is definitely one of the most disappointing aspects of the game.
Since we are on the topic, one other thing that really disappointed me in Hard West 2 is that some characters have flaws in their design. Lazarus is a prime example of it. The character ability of Lazarus is activated when one of your party members goes down. This is hugely disappointing because in select story missions if a party member goes down, the mission fails, so what is even the point of using Lazarus if I can not use this character ability in the most challenging missions?
But players can unlock new passive abilities and upgrade current abilities with cards. Hard West 2 also does not have level-based progression, which is something I prefer.
The World And Missions
Thanks to Hard West 2 art direction, stunning world design, voice acting, and compelling soundtrack designed by the composer of Dead Space. The world looks pretty and feels atmospheric. The world of Hard West 2 also features a ton of enemy variety, ranging from common bandits to demonic cultists.
Every mission has interesting characters to interact with. The game focuses more on fantasy rather than realism which is something I prefer for a game like Hard West 2. But the game also takes some historical inspiration which can be seen throughout the world of the game.
Hard West 2 Verdict
Hard West 2 is the type of game that looks near perfect on the surface, but as you start to dig in, you start to uncover some flaws. The game has some disappointing aspects, but it is ultimately saved by its positive features. For every flaw, I saw numerous features compensating for it.
The game has plenty of annoyances but, in the end, due to its detailed level design, audio design, and storytelling, The game is indeed worth it. I am sure that fans of the genre will not be disappointed. That concludes our Hard West 2 review.
- Outstanding Audio Design and Level Design
- Interesting Story
- Well Written Characters
- Fantastic Combat
- Poor Balancing
- Slight Performance Hiccups
- Character Design and Customization Flaws
Hard West 2 Rating 3.5/5
We hope our review for Hard West 2 helped you out in deciding whether the game is worth it for you or not.
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