Hard West

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Hard West Game Poster Image
Fun yet flawed Western tale mixes violence, supernatural.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Message isn't very good -- focuses on relentless revenge with all kinds of weapons -- but one might sympathize with troubled protagonist.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main protagonist is Warren, out to avenge those who wrong him, his parents. He soon realizes dark forces are at play here. You feel for this character, decisions he has to make -- he has inner demons along with exterior ones he's going after -- but overall not a good role model.

Ease of Play

Not difficult to control, but turn-based tactical games might not be as easy to pick up for younger players compared to other genres. Tutorial walks gamers through mechanics nicely.

Violence

Atmospheric, downright creepy at times, this turn-based game focuses heavily on violent combat. You use shotguns, pistols, sniper rifles, some over-the-top prototypical weapons to kill enemies. Collectible poker cards let gamers craft special abilities for even more carnage. Enemies cry out in pain, bleed, die. Has some Satanism-related visuals, references, cannibals, cultists.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol in saloons.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hard West is a downloadable turn-based tactical strategy game that's full of mature imagery. Players will encounter lots of violence throughout the game, as enemies cry, bleed, and die on-screen from a large variety of firearms. Players will also see a lot of scenes that feature scary situations, cannibalism, and supernatural elements (including Satanism and cults). Characters are also seen smoking and drinking in saloons.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

Take one part XCOM, add in some classic Wild West lore and then a dose of the supernatural, and you might begin to understand what it's like to click through a game such as HARD WEST. Played from an angled ("isometric") top-down view, you play as Warren -- out to avenge his mother's death and his father's anguish and to get back at those who left him to die. He masters weapons, enhances them with dark magic, and traipses through dangerous lands to hunt down those who wronged him. Instead of a fast-paced action game, Hard West is a turn-based game that has you and your squad of up to four players exchange moves with enemies to see who remains standing. Along with eight story-based scenarios, this single-player game features 40 special-combat missions. Other features include multiple playable characters, each with his own skill set; collectible poker cards (and combos) to craft special abilities; and specially designed maps that force players to change up their tactics to stay alive.

Is it any good?

Turn-based fans of tactical shooters will likely appreciate this challenging, atmospheric, and sometimes strange computer game. Hard West falters in a few areas, but it's hard to deny its charm. First, the good news. Though clichéd and over the top, the story will draw you in, and the music and graphics will keep you interested as you move about the map to visit locations -- such as outposts, saloons, churches, abandoned mines, and more -- but it's the turn-based tactical action that'll keep you intrigued. For each fight, you'll choose your party, equip them with weapons and items, unlock special abilities through the cards you collect, and take advantage of the environment such as taking cover, and ricochet bullets off metal objects.

The game claims to give the player choices that change the path and story somewhat, but this isn't necessarily the case; for example, choosing not to pursue a gang in favor of exploring still forces a fight with that posse anyway. Other glitches, such as choosing to pay for information but being prevented from doing so, are infuriating. The action is fun, but spending the action points for each move -- firing a weapon, moving to another spot on the map, healing and other spells, and so on -- isn't as intuitive and fluid as it is in other games. "Luck" plays a part in your success, too, but there's no explanation of how the Luck stats are accumulated (maybe it's random). Fun, challenging, and with lots of replayability, Hard West is an interesting computer game for turn-based lovers, Western aficionados, and perhaps those who like supernatural yarns -- even when they're as ridiculous and trite as the one running through this single-player romp.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games such as Hard West. Would a game like this desensitize players to violence thanks to the constant combat, or is it blatantly unrealistic, so players know there would be no detrimental side effects to playing it?

  • Talk about the supernatural elements. Should parents be concerned about the inclusion of cults and demons in the story (even though you're defeating these groups) and not the Wild West action?

Game details

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