A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Despite pronounced focus on violence and many evils shown, the game contains a core of justice, peace, and worthiness of human experience. Puts player on direct collision course with concepts such as cannibalism, greed, dark magic, cults, and genocide -- demanding that the player make crucial decisions on how to deal with such horrors. The world of the Weird West transforms due to player actions, emphasizing the power and importance of decision-making, as well as critical thinking. Players can help certain characters with their struggles throughout the West, evoking empathy and compassion.
Positive Role Models
Many unsavory, heartless, terrible villains strewn throughout the West who will do whatever it takes to accomplish their selfish goals. But player connects with many kind-hearted characters who want peace, and with their help, the West can be brought back from the brink of complete chaos and anarchy. The five protagonists have differing stories with themes of spirituality, personal redemption, and justice, but it's entirely up to the player to tap into the game's more kind and generous perspectives and outcomes.
Contains many different ethnicities, faiths, and cultural backgrounds, from random people you come across in any given town to a few of the central protagonists. A storyline centers around an Indigenous community, highlighting the group in a respectful manner. Further, side quests feature LGBTQ+ characters and their struggles, as well as quests tackling issues such as the stigmas surrounding sex work and the detriments of discrimination.
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Ease of Play
Controls can take some getting used to, as you'll use both control sticks to move and aim, and there are still two other buttons needed to keep your weapon at the ready and shoot.The game's inventory/item system can be overwhelming at first as you figure out the functions and purposes of the many items you'll come across. Despite the complexities, you're given enough space and freedom to experiment and master your own play style.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is a focal point: blood, gore, scattered body parts, corpses. You'll use guns, daggers, clubs, and various magic spells to deal with your opposition and bring balance to the West (or contribute to its destruction). Enemies bleed when damaged; some may even flee if a fight isn't favoring them. Some enemies can hold grudges against you for killing a member of their group and may show up later to avenge their fallen teammates. Cannibalism, torture, human trafficking, greed-fueled murders, and violence fueled by fears of specific groups. Very infrequent implications of sexual assault.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No nudity or graphic depictions of sexual acts, but there are references to sex sprinkled throughout in the form of lewd comments. A brothel serves as a location where certain objectives need to be met, but nothing explicit is shown.
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No shortage of harsh dialogue. Swears range from "damn," "ass," and "bitch" to "s--t" and "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many characters indulge in alcoholic beverages. Your character can even drink alcohol and wine, which can lead to their becoming drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Weird West is a downloadable single-player action RPG (role-playing game) available for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Players will play through the stories of five characters, all with unique backgrounds and goals, and discover the many strange mysteries the West has to offer. From a former bounty hunter trying to live life on the straight and narrow to a member of an Indigenous community trying to purge a great, destructive evil from the land, these stories will eventually converge, and the very fabric of the West will be determined by you, the player. Violence is commonplace, with themes of cannibalism, genocide, human trafficking, dark magic, and discrimination (and subsequent acts of violence) against certain groups being prominent within the overall narrative -- though players can ensure that such misdeeds come to a swift end. There's also a welcome emphasis on diversity within the game, with spotlights shone on issues such as the mistreatment of sex workers, as well as discrimination against women, people of color in positions of power, and specific groups. A central character's plotline showcases the culture of an Indigenous group tastefully and honestly, with a focus on spirituality and inner strength. Celebratory drinking and general drunkenness come up occasionally, but at the core of a world seemingly filled with depravity and chaos is a sense of justice, compassion, honor, redemption, and empathy.
Is It Any Good?
Oftentimes, games will push the feature of "You can do whatever you want!" when the reality is much less expansive. Weird West holds no such false promises; in this case, the world is truly the player's oyster. The game sets the stage, gives you enough tutorials so that you can get your bearings on the controls and mechanics, and then firmly backs off and tells you to have fun. There are the typical RPG (role-playing game) features when it comes to upgrading your weapons and abilities or finding golden cards that will give you permanent benefits shared between characters. But Weird West truly shines in its ambitions and the way it realizes its lofty promises. From the very beginning, there's nowhere on the map arbitrarily restricted from the player. You can completely ignore the main objectives and go exploring, potentially coming across off-track side quests, rare loot, or even random events, which keeps exploration fresh, interesting, and nerve-racking.
In this world, everything you do matters and has a purpose. There are very few people you can't condemn to an early grave, and that goes for all characters, relevant or not. You may eliminate a series of quests by ending certain characters' lives prematurely, but rather than punish you, the game takes a "Sure, let's roll with it!" approach and provides other options for you to explore to accomplish your goals without preventing you from making progress in the story. The game encourages any and all play styles as well, giving you the option stealth, action, or a combination of both. You can choose to help people out of the kindness of your heart, or demand payment for your "generous" assistance. But keep in mind that Weird West remembers, and there may be a time when you'll regret crossing certain people or traveling down certain paths. Weird West is the perfect water-cooler-conversation game where you can get together with friends and share whatever strange or unique happenings occurred during your playthrough, as no two people will have exactly the same experiences. What starts as a casual, though morbid, rootin'-tootin' cowboy story turns into something strange, sinister, and magical. The freedom and diversity of choice will hook you, but the compelling characters and world, bizarre twists and turns, and wholly unparalleled presentation will have you playing this game again and again, just to see how differently things end up next time.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.