A funhouse is a linear sequence of scares. Take it or leave it is the only choice given.

― Max Payne 2

I have no intent on making this blog into just “Elle talks about video games,” but I needed a writing warmup and figured talking about the game I just finished would be fun. So, uh, Elle talks about video games. Cope.

I picked up Evil West at full price on launch day which…normally that’s a bad idea these days, especially considering I’d gone in basically blind. I’m not the greatest at the uh…hype management thing. But I had money to spare and the initial reviews I kept hearing said, in essence, “It’s boring because it’s a PS2 character action game with shiny graphics and nothing else.” Which. That’s a compliment.

So I picked’er up right away, slammed in my requisite 15 hours at the Normal difficulty (I tried it on Hard but I’m not all that great at the genre, admittedly), and had a fantastic time. I played on keyboard & mouse rather than keyboard because I suppose I’m some variety of sociopath (and didn’t feel like messing with my Steam Controller)—but the default layout was fine.

Promo material from Focus Interactive.

I did do some crackhead shit and bind the revolver and shotgun to the scroll wheel. Which was amazing. I dunno what made me consider it, but it made using the guns feel a lot more natural. Fanning the hammer on the revolver by whipping the scroll wheel up between the meaty punching and countering with the shotgun by jerking the scroll wheel down felt better than the default keybindings of…I think it was E and Q. Both of those still worked fine, but the scroll wheel was fantastic.

Overall though, it plays like some crack-addled sprint through God of War, Gears of War, and Devil May Cry, slapped on with a coat of Darkwatch paint and blasting a techno remix of Ecstasy of Gold the whole time. The story was a comedy masquerading as drama, but I mean that as a compliment. It took full pride in being goofy Weird West™ nonsense was refreshing. It had a few genuine moments mixed into the absurdity, but I played for the gameplay. It was a wildly predictable joyride, but it felt like an old friend. There were a few moments where the devs seem to have done stuff out of sequence or somehow just missed weirdness–such as seeing the loading screen for the cutscene leading into the last mission spoil the entire premise of the last mission. Thankfully it was…well. I kinda already knew what was gonna happen, because, again, it’s. Predictable. But it was still goofy to see it just spoiled outright in the fuckin’ loading screen

Lots of complaints about it being an entirely linear experience, but frankly, it was fucking refreshing playing a game that didn’t jerk itself off about being some open-world extravaganza. It was a tightly knit linear experience, each level had a purpose and that was great. A lil bit more side content would’ve been potentially cool, but just as well it could’ve fucked the game up.

So, frankly? Woo. Linearity. Thank fucking god. It’s a linear sequence of scares, sure, but I had no trouble at all trotting through this funhouse.

The enemy design was, especially in the latter half, downright malicious. I felt like the devs were behind their fuckin’ PCs slapping that shit in laughing like madmen a lot of the time, which for me was fine–in that moment I was malding and salty like fucking crazy, but finishing it I was cracking the fuck up like, “why the fuck would they do that, lmao.” When they implemented a flying enemy that provides invulnerability to all enemies in the encounter, then promptly started dumping those guys alongside Serious Sam-esque kamikazes, I wanted to smack the devs upside the head but in like. A dude-bro way.

It was a lovely time, and I’ll probably replay it in a year or two. Doesn’t really need a sequel, but I’d pick one up if it happens. It was a delightfully dumb time with some occasional lovely bits of heart poking through.

“To face the fear of death, we distract ourselves with rituals. We believe these practices lend us strength and harden our resolve. We assume that these rules and traditions are what keep us moving forward and will eventually lead us to greatness.”

― William Rentier, Evil West

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