Evil West asks a simple question: What if cowboys fought vampires? It’s the kind of off-the-wall thinking that gets a Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford movie greenlit, and developer Flying Wild Hog certainly gets a lot of mileage out of its whimsical concept. Set in an alternate version of 1890s America, Evil West is the Wild West at its wildest. A familiar backdrop of swinging-door saloons, rolling tumbleweed, and abandoned gold mines are interwoven with Nikola Tesla-inspired electro-steampunk technology and an assemblage of ravenous bloodsuckers. Evil West shines in the heat of battle when that initial question can be answered, but its strengths are often diminished by the dated design wrapped around them.
The story is a fairly by-the-numbers affair, pitting a vampire-hunting organization against a vampiric enemy force threatening the continental United States. You’re strapped into the spur-clad boots of Jesse Rentier, a typically gruff protagonist with very few emotions beyond mild indifference. His occasionally pragmatic response to the absurdity occurring around him is slightly endearing, but it’s telling that I had to look up his name before writing it here. The narrative does periodically broach some interesting themes; for instance, one of the Highborn vampires is concerned by humanity’s ever-expanding technology and the threat it will pose his fellow sanguisuge–but these threads never really go anywhere. The only one that does revolves around a smarmy and misogynistic government official, yet his comeuppance isn’t as satisfying as it deserves to be.