Dark Light

west of dead

The twin-stick shooter genre has come into formation and yet, I’d never really tried one for myself. This particular genre hasn’t exactly been ‘booming’, unlike its platformer brethren as of late. These are the types of games that, on the surface level appear to be too simple, but provide great room for innovation for the devs. Speaking of innovation, the procedural level-building is an old video game trick that has gotten quite a boost in the last couple of years. Through this technique, games like Minecraft, No Man’s Sky, and Star Citizen have built worlds of immeasurable size and scope. Combine the hectic nature of twin-stick shooters with the level of variation of procedural generation and you get West of Dead.

Story and Narrative

” Dead Man Walking”

west of dead

West of Dead takes you back to Wyoming in the year 1888. It is the old west and you’re filling in the shoes of William Mason, literally a dead man walking. Whether it was a stray bullet, a disagreement at some saloon, or an unfortunate kick from a horse, you have entered the land of the dead and are headed straight for purgatory. Here on out, you must slay hordes of monsters that want you to stay dead and unravel your past with the sheer will and balls to stay undead.

west of dead

As is the case with all games in this genre, the story is not the prime focus. The only thing that holds it together is Ron Perlman, ‘Hellboy’ himself as William Mason. Most of the time he sounds a little bit sleepy which is understandable as he’s portraying a dead man walking but otherwise does a good job of selling the whole shebang to you. That man could sell me empty milk cartons if he wanted to. But despite Ron’s commendable performance, I couldn’t care less about the plot. To me, it just felt like another reflex shooter and thus, I had my eyes set solely on the gameplay.

Gameplay and Mechanics

“Slow Yet Slick”

West of Dead is relatively slow-paced in comparison to its peers. Thanks to its solid shooting mechanics, it feels as slick as any other shooter. The added functionality to dodge, roll, and take cover behind destructible objects works well and makes the moment-to-moment gameplay stick together. Aiming is considerably slow as locking onto an enemy may take a few seconds. It is neither easy on the controller nor on the mouse. Nevertheless, the fluidity makes up for the sluggish aiming.

west of dead

There are several weapons featured in-game, consisting of standard pistols, shotguns, rifles, and even sawed-off shotguns. These are locked away in chests scattered throughout the levels, each varying slightly from the other. For example, the dual pistols are great, but they don’t deal much damage compared to a rifle or a sawed-off shotgun. There are advantages to switching up the weapons, but ultimately I stuck with my rifle and trusty pistols. Besides the firearms, there are throwables like knives and axes that can instantly kill most enemies.

There are also stat upgrades like damage and health boosts present at specific places. These improve your stats by a ridiculous amount, after two such upgrades, I nearly tripled my health bar. There’s also an option to buy healing potions for an amount of your acquired ‘Sins’, and the ‘Irons’ that you acquire can be used to buy weapons at shops.

“Ricocheting Bullets, Harrowing Deaths- The Best and the Worst”

The game also features ricocheting bullets, which can bounce off walls and can be used to take down multiple enemies at once. This feature is super useful in closed spaces and when your health bar is at its lowest. This was way handier than rushing ahead and dodging bullets as that usually lead to numerous deaths.

Speaking of deaths, dying is by far the worst thing that can happen to you in the game. Since it is a roguelike, if you die, you lose everything. By losing everything I mean your entire chapter progress will be erased, you will lose all your weapons and upgrades as well. For example, in Chapter 1, it took me about an hour to reach the boss. Defeating the boss is no easy feat and healing potions are rare to come by. Hitting rock bottom means starting over. But the whole point of such games is to learn the mechanics and ‘git gud’ I suppose. If you’re someone who’s turned away by such things, West of Dead won’t do you any favors.

Visuals, Performance, and Sound

From a visual standpoint, West of Dead‘s minimalist art style is sleek, sexy, and stylish. Mason’s burning skull gave me some real Ghost Rider vibes, and the use of contrasting reds and blacks resonates well with the dark ambiance of the game. The comic-book style shadowing is strikingly good-looking but overall, the visuals can at times be too dark.

As for the game’s sound design, the blistering sounds of ricocheting bullets are good but there are no echoes or bass to them. Be it a very closed space or a very open-ended level, all the bullets sound the same. Besides these, there are decent guitar acoustics adding tension to the slightly harrowing background score. However, it is Ron Perlman who steals the show when it comes to the sound department. It seems like the studio spent their entire voice-acting budget on Ron since none of the NPCs are voice-acted.

Thanks to West of Dead‘s not-so-taxing visuals, the game runs butter smooth on most GPUs. I didn’t notice any frame drops, lag, or glitches throughout my playthrough on my GTX 1050ti. Even if you’re on an Intel GPU, you can still run the damn thing at a stable 60fps.


At the end of the day, despite some of its issues, West of Dead is a surprisingly satisfying game. It’s ricocheting bullet mechanic offers gratifying moments and its procedurally-generated levels bring enough variation to make every shootout unique. Ron Perlman’s commendable performance as William Mason is the icing on the cake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts