We need as many immersive sims as we can get, as far as I’m concerned. Blood West is a new stealth-horror action FPS about carefully navigating and dealing with foes, all while trying to stay alive. It entered Early Access today, and is set to spend another half a year or so in development, as well as receive two large content updates. The game’s first section is already in place, which should last most players a few hours or so. But the question stands: is Blood West worth it in Early Access? Or are you better off stalking prey elsewhere?
Blood West places you in the undead shoes of an undead man who has been recently resurrected by the Totem of Souls. This ‘being’ brought you back to supply it with energy from cursed items, or something. It’s your job to find these by carefully sneaking around this Western-themed hellscape lorded over by shambling monsters and winged gunslingers. Unlike the dev’s previous game, Elderborn, this one has a pixelated art style, which works well. And while this isn’t a Souls-like, it still has some mechanics that have been borrowed from them.
As for what you do in the game, it’s quite a bit like STALKER in a lot of ways. You carefully sneak around while exploring and scavenging. Your tools consist of melee weapons and guns, which are carried in a grid-based inventory. Moving while crouched makes less noise, but enemies can still hear you. As you move, your detection level increases, so you’ll need to stop and wait for it to go back down before moving in for the kill. Hitting an unaware enemy does extra damage, plus you have both light and heavy attacks with which to dispatch them. Blood West is effectively tense in that capacity.
A wave of hatred calls like a flood
There are fully-voiced NPCs around and some of them offer quests. You’ll find occasional safe zones that enemies can’t enter and you can use these to trade or rest. Items in Blood West are quite expensive, so you can’t exactly stock up. Plus, your inventory isn’t exactly large. If you rest, you heal completely, but you also respawn any enemies you’ve dispatched. However, dying doesn’t reset enemies. Dying does add to your death flaws, though. For every three deaths, you’ll have a death flaw added, but I’m not entirely sure how these work, as I’m doing my best not to die, as well as using coins that protect you from death flaws being added upon death. Dying will also permanently lower your HP, at least up to a certain point.
Personally, I really wish Blood West didn’t have such a strict death penalty, as those always make me more reluctant to play games of this design. But I know tons of people like the added stress and risk factor, so your mileage will vary.
There are some other things about the game that irk me. For one, it’s so dark that it’s often hard to make out what’s in front of you. I explored a cave beneath the church and could barely see walkways precariously perched over deep pits. I’m sure there will be options for light sources down the line, but stumbling in the dark is never fun to me.
Additionally, guns seem quite weak. At least, for you. Enemies with guns do a massive amount of damage, but when I turned a revolver on the foe blasting me to bits, it took 10 rounds before they succumbed. Similarly, you can get a bow as a silent ranged weapon. But the damage is, again, so low that when you shoot a target they’ll then barely take any damage. Plus, doing so helps them know exactly where you are, potentially leading them to blast you to pieces. Suffice to say, this is a harsher experience. But there are certainly things to like here, so I’d say Blood West is worth it, as long as the things that turned me off don’t have the same effect on you.