If you’ve got an affinity for cowboys and tactical turn-based combat, then you might want to check out Hard West from CreativeForge Games and Gambitious. If you’ve ever played XCOM, then you’ll quickly find that the two games share many similarities when playing.
Hard West’s story is centered around a violent cowboy named Warren seeking revenge against his enemies. The idea is that in the throes of death, this cowboy makes some sort of dark bargain with evil supernatural forces to extend his life in order to take revenge. While this is the main conflict fueling the action of the game, the story also expands into various side quests and optional missions.
There are two components to the game: map mode and combat mode. In the map mode, the player is able to travel around gathering intel, purchasing items, upgrading weapons, acquiring funds, and interacting with all of the people and places along your path. While the player does often have the option of jumping directly into combat, there are many advantages of doing some exploring and bargaining before you engage.
One benefit to the map mode is that, if done correctly, the player has an option to stage an ambush instead of entering directly into a combat scenario. What this means is that in the combat mode screen, enemies will not attack your player until you either attack or engage in suspicious behavior in their sights. In this game, suspicious behavior is pretty much just getting too close to an enemy. From the map mode, there is also the possibility of acquiring poison and using it to contaminate the enemy’s water supply in order to weaken their forces. And this is just what we’ve seen. Gambitious assures that there are a wide myriad of options for how a player can enter a battle or any other situation in the game.
This game is all about choice. Gambitious doesn’t want players to feel locked into a certain progression path or set of decisions. Of course, the ultimate goal of the game is to find the people you are looking for on your quest for revenge. How you reach those villains and what you do along the way, though, is entirely up to you.
In combat mode, the idea of being able to choose multiple pathways to reach a goal carries over. For example, in the demo mission, your cowboy is entering a cannibalistic camp in order to rescue a captive who might have some useful information. In combat mode, you are also able to bring your companions; you don’t need to leave with them, though. In other words, even though the purpose of the mission is to rescue the informant, the mission can still be completed if he dies.
In the demo, the objective to complete in order to clear the level is to kill all of the enemies. You can do this by sneaking up on them, luring them out into the open, or anything else of which you could think. You can kill all of the enemies and then save the informant. Or you can save the informant and have him assist you in eliminating all of the cannibals in the camp.
While in combat mode, the actual game mechanics are pretty complex. Hiding behind a window gives you more cover, lowering the chance an enemy has to hit you and decreasing the damage they’ll inflict if they do. Hiding behind a well can provide cover, but flipping up the wooden lid of that well will provide even more cover. If there’s a metal object in the room, the player has the option to ricochet bullets off the object in order to hit the target. While this decreases the chances of landing the shot, it’s an awesome mechanic for a Wild Western game.
Overall, if you enjoy strategy games, then this one is a ton of fun. You need the patience for tactical turn-based combat, but if you have that, then all of the elements in this game combine to form an excellent challenge.