I like Westerns. I especially like Westerns with a bit of supernatural flare to them. I also like Ron Perlman. I especially like Ron Perlman as a skull-faced Ghost Rider-inspired Cowboy.
West of Dead is a good example of what happens when developers listen to their community when making a game. Before I get into what happened, I’d like to go over what West of Dead is and what I like and didn’t like about it when it launched.
Initially, I fell in love with this Upstream Arcade game. The art style looks like it was ripped off the pages of a Mike Mignola comic book. And, I immediately fell in love with the unforgiving death mechanic. But then, some glaring issues began to rear their ugly heads…
This game is dark and beautiful. The inspirations for the art style are clear as day and the voice acting is amazing, which is no surprise given Ron Perlman was cast as the lead.
The lore is pretty darn interesting too with the afterlife featuring a series of dungeon-like mazes filled with lost violent souls and a mad preacher man. Yes, this has that ghoulish Old West superstition engraved all over it, and I like it.
The game was broken when it came out. It was a twin-stick shooter with an aim assist that actually fought with the players. I died so many times because my character would insist on locking onto an enemy behind a wall instead of the guy right in front of me.
The inability to shoot down or up a ladder was also annoying as some enemies would camp the ladder and deliver a killing blow as soon as you went up or down.
These problems were jarring and they drove me away from playing the game until these issues were fixed (which was not until gamers complained.)
You weren’t expecting that as a headline, huh?
The outcry following the funky aiming was seen to by the devs who released an update to fix it as best as they could. It isn’t perfect but I’ve found myself fighting the aim assist a lot less than I was initially.
Sometimes, when developers listen to constructive criticism from their community, it can help the game immensely. This is definitely the case with West of Dead.
The Ugly (But A Good Kind of Ugly)
Now onto the coolest thing about the game – Death! When you die in West of Dead, you restart at the very beginning. But as dungeons are procedurally generated, things are mixed up every time you play.
However, before this deters you, if you manage to progress to the point where you meet ‘The Witch’, you can invest points into items and buffs that are put into rotation in the form of loot you find or items from the trader.
If you kill a Wendigo, you get a permanent buff. It has a system very much like Dead Cells; another roguelike game.
West of Dead is a good example of how good a game can be when devs fix issues. Although it can be frustrating at times, it is a good game, especially now that all that business with the aiming has been mostly sorted out.
It is also available on Xbox Gamepass.