Respawns won't save you in 'Weird West'

Their destinies are intertwined, but each character walks his or her own path, and they’re all equally susceptible to the game’s harshest mechanic: linear progression. As an immersive sim, Weird West doesn’t allow players to travel backward in time or undo any action, even if it resulted in the death of a compatriot, the ire of an entire village or a failed mission. Players can die in the game, but anything that happened before death will remain true at respawn. Time marches on.

This makes the game world feel particularly responsive and alive, allowing WolfEye to implement progress-sensitive mechanics like bounties that follow players throughout their adventures and timed missions. It also lends extra weight to every decision made in Weird West, and it levies a heavy tax on mistakes or misclicks.

“I’m super worried,” Colantonio said. “I mean, I think it’s healthy to be worried. You don’t want it to be paralyzing, but whenever we do something that is a bit of a bold move, something that hasn’t been done exactly that way before, or has failed in some other games, then yeah, of course it’s a worry. We believe in it, though.”

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Colantonio said his development style involves throwing every idea at a game, and seeing what sticks. It’s more erratic than starting with 10 concrete features and building a game around those, but this is how he did things at Arkane, and the system has followed him — and Roby — to WolfEye.

“The way we develop a game is always, since my first game that I ever did, was to put a lot of ingredients in the stew,” Colantonio said. “And sometimes you don’t even know if they’re really going to be useful and let them live and give them a chance. And then the ones that actually are important to your stew will emerge.”

You know, ingredients like an ultra-punishing progression system or an abundance of animal sacrifice. 

Weird West is due to hit Steam in 2021, published by Devolver Digital. Colantonio’s band, Weird Wolves, provides some of the music in the game and its early trailers. Weird West is infused with bits of Colantonio and other WolfEye developers; they’re passionate about its mechanics and they believe in its story. There’s no other way to make a video game, Colantonio said.

Weird West

WolfEye Studios

“I’m 49 and I like to do what I like to do,” he said. “I’m not here to listen to the markets specifically to try to make the thing that is going to be the thing that’s going to make you rich, or something. Making games is hard, and I just want to enjoy the road. I want to make games that I’m proud of, that somehow contribute to the evolution of the gaming industry.”

Weird West promises a rich, living world filled with danger and demonic activity, and at least one mystery to solve. It employs progression in new ways and supports a variety of approaches, letting players sneak through levels or show up with guns blazing. It’s an action RPG and an immersive sim; it’s beautiful and terrifying. But Weird West is not a horror game.

Well. It’s not only a horror game.

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