One of 2022’s great action games

One of 2022’s great action games

Wicked 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 battling bloodthirsty abominations. This time, evil goes on the offensive and strikes at the heart of your organization. It’s up to you, as Jesse Rentier, to fight your way through the hordes and end the vampiric overlords, the Sanguisuge.

The game has a fairly standard selection of enemies to throw at you. Bruters knock you down if you don’t move, flyers pester you from afar if you don’t shoot them down, and plenty of grunts are fodder for your fists, but the fights are expertly choreographed to provide a challenge while making you feel like a loner. – The army of men rages from battle pit to battle pit. That’s what all the missions are – battle pits that lock you into a small area until you kill everything and linear paths in between to get to the next one.

Whether it’s hooking up generators, driving a runaway train car or looking around for secret loot, these moments perfectly space the action while never feeling too overbearing. What is overbearing at times is the harsh lighting, but other than that, Wicked West is a mix of ’90s B-movies stylized with George Miller’s striking oranges and blues. While there’s no standout music, the overall soundscape ties this cowboy punk beat’em together with its soft western acoustics, chunky riffs, alert sounds that indicate off-screen enemy attacks, and an iconic gunshot that whistles the end of an encounter.

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You fight with a set of iron gloves from the start, and as you progress through the story for the first time, you unlock more weapons, gadgets and electricity-infused upgrades. The rifle, pistol, flamethrower, and boom stick can handle a monster or two on their own, but their primary purpose is crowd control and interrupting enemy attacks. The main emphasis is close combat. There are heavy swinging combos, jumping punches, an intermediate kick and blocks for melee and super powerful moves and dashes to close the distance. The fact that you can switch any move quickly to any other move is what keeps the action fluid, responsive and punchy well above its weight class.

It is not without its shortcomings. As the backend is more buggy, the story eventually spins its wheels and later just mindlessly fights monsters and the game starts to lose its spark, but the end credits roll before it falls completely flat. At roughly 10 hours long playthrough if you breeze through the easiest difficulty, this is an intense taster with a New Game+ system that invites you to play again while keeping all your locks, or you can bring a friend along with cooperation system.

Wicked West does nothing new or innovative to 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 mark it as perhaps my favorite action-adventure title of 2022.

Wicked 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.

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See the review in 3 minutes for Wicked West.

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