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With a style of play that’s far too simplistic, controls that are far too clumsy, and a pace that’s far too slow, West Hunt struggles
Reviewing so many games for Switch with so many different styles, designed for different audiences, and by teams of wildly varying sizes I’ve always tried to have some perspective with every game I play. Not all games are for all people, and what may be horrible to the wrong audience may have merit to another. That said, there are absolutely cases where no matter who the intended audience is, or what the developers may have had in mind, there’s no escaping a poor all-around experience. Unfortunately, West Hunt absolutely falls into that trap, but we’ll at least take a moment to see what went wrong.To start, the premise of gameplay is that it all centers on careful observation on one end of the experience and being pretty sneaky on the other. You’ll play the role of either a sheriff, charged with keeping order, or a bandit, whose job is to do a variety of criminal things… with the primary goal not being caught. A tutorial roughly gives you an idea of how both sides of the coin play, preparing you to some degree, but playing the game with more full-sized town at first can feel a bit overwhelming due to all of the area you can cover and how many people are walking around, making it harder to pick out who the bad guys are. Bad guys are given a checklist of actions they must steadily perform, keeping an eye on the clock, while trying to avoid being caught. Sheriffs only have one real action at their disposal, shooting someone, so when you take that shot you’d better be sure you’re right.While you’ll be able to play with bots if you don’t have anyone to play with online (there’s no option for local multiplayer), the ideal way to play is with other humans, upping the challenge or perhaps making it easier if they aren’t good at seeming to move around randomly like the rest of the bots do. There is a time limit ticking down, so bad guys will need to keep moving and completing tasks to continue to add to the clock since time is your enemy as well, in addition to the sheriff. As a bad guy you will be able to see the map to help find the spots to interact with, as well as where the sheriff(s) are, so you’ll want to be careful to be sure they aren’t near when you start performing a task like poisoning the water, because they take a moment and that could possibly tip them off.Aside from the play being pretty simple (and honestly quite stale), the game’s biggest issues are the combination of pretty horrible controls and the pacing being glacially slow, and that’s being kind. Granted, you may want to stop moving and simply use the camera to check all around you, but the weird way you’re forced to turn with the left stick independently from the camera can be maddeningly annoying. Compounding this frustration is the fact that you move so incredibly slowly. Moreso than the ticking clock, the game’s maddeningly slow pace will constantly be your enemy, and it was difficult not to get incredibly impatient within a few minutes of playing, and just wishing it could be over.While online play does work, whether looking to hook up with friends using a custom lobby or simply doing a quick search in the hopes that someone else may be playing at the same time, the prospects for people first getting and then choosing to stick with this title for more than a scant number of hours feel incredibly poor. While you’ll apparently be able to accumulate different items you can use for some simply cosmetic upgrades of sorts, I can’t see where almost anyone would see enough return on investment to bother, and considering even decent online multiplayer games on Switch tend to see their communities being short-lived, I’d consider the prospects for this having any longevity dire indeed. I really can’t think of any reason anyone would think this would be worth their money, or even their time, with so much already out there far better than this.
Justin Nation, Score: