Written by Maurice Verschuur
March 2, 2020 – Once upon a time there was a dead man waking up without a memory in Purgatory. According to some Christians this is a place where spirits go after people die to suffer for their sins. After passing this they go to heaven. In West of Dead, a twin-stick shooter, you are William Mason who is waking up in this ‘in between world’ shaped up by previous souls passing true. Publisher Raw Fury gave me access to the beta on PC.
Starting out in a saloon without a memory, the only person i see is the bartender. He welcomes me in the Purgatory and asks me what my destination is. Before i can answer he tells me it doesn’t make any difference, since “not a soul has been able to pass east or west since that preacher arrived. Place is filling up with all kinds of undesirables. Ain’t safe out there no more.” And so my adventure starts.
No mercy for the dead
West of Dead is brutal and, especially in the beta, unforgiving as there where no save points. This was difficult at the beginning when i was trying to get accustomed to the controls and the gameplay. Personally i liked the challenge of coping without save points. As soon as i was familiar with the controls and got myself some health upgrades it went relatively smooth from there on. After all it was just an open beta and thus logically pretty short.
But i did wonder how the lack of save points would work in the full game. So i asked a spokesperson from publisher Raw Fury who answered: “It is true that there will be no save points, however there will be perks from having played and reaching further and there will also be unlock able shortcuts in between levels. The game is still being developed, so it is not set in stone, but in short there will be rewards helping the player even without save points.” There were a few different perks in the open beta like more health and extra weapon damage. Especially extra health gave me the confidence the full game could be a hard, but doable challenge.
Every run is different
As there are nou save points you will notice, especially in the beginning when you die a lot, that the world is procedurally generated. So it’s no use to try to and remember the path you took. This makes every run an unique experience. The guns you find are also random. At the beginning in the beta i got two weapons with every run, but what kind was different every run. From a rusty revolver and a sawed-off shotgun to a powerful rifle and normal shotgun. The further i got in the world the more weapons i found. But since you can only carry two at one time it can be a challenge choosing which weapon you replace. Or leave the new one behind.
Fun fact. The main character is voiced by Ron Perlman. Also known for his acting work in Hellboy, Blade 2, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and many more. His deep sounding voice contributes to the dark character you play and the gritty world.