The original game blended tactical gameplay and short stories set among the backdrop of an Old West horror tale. Its sequel, Hard West 2, takes everything that fans enjoyed about the first game, packs a few extra cards up its sleeves, and takes players on one Hell of an adventure … literally. The game ditches the piecemeal anthology feel of the original in favor of a singular, fleshed out story. By doing this, the characters feel much more well-rounded, with backstories revealed over time as they interact with and develop bonds with one another. This gets players more interested and more invested in the fates of their posse members. And even if it's not an epic odyssey in terms of plot, giving players specific choices at certain moments raises the stakes and makes the overall story feel more personal.
Hard West 2 seems like a straightforward turn-based strategy game on its surface, but there are a lot of quirks to the gameplay that keep things fresh and original. The game tosses the usual skill points and XP in favor of the Deck of Haunts. As players progress, they'll find playing cards which can be equipped for different effects. By equipping cards equal to certain poker hands, such as two pair or a full house, characters get additional boosts, skills, and traits. There are also two special resources that come into play during battles: Luck and Bravado. Whenever a character misses a shot, take a hit, or things don't go according to plan, the scales balance by granting Luck, which can be used on later turns to boost the chance to hit an enemy with an attack. Meanwhile, whenever an enemy is defeated by a character, that character gains Bravado and recharges their Action Points. By stringing together kills, the player's posse can pull off an impressive amount of destruction before the enemy even knows what hit them. These twists, along with the solid story, lean heavy into the Old West horror vibe, making Hard West 2 a suitably spooky adventure that's hard to put down.