REVIEW: ‘Hard West II’ Keeps a Great Thing Going (PC)

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Hard West II - But Why Tho (1)

Hard West II is a tactical turn-based western with a supernatural twist. Developed by CreativeForge Games and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment, Hard West II attempts to expand on the offerings of the original to give players a fun game filled with tough combat encounters, gripping characters, and plenty of supernatural twists to mix things up. The first Hard West was a breakout success that had plenty of great combat to go around as well as some really fun characters to learn about during the adventure. Following such a great title up is no small feat, but Hard West II manages to pull it off with flying colors. 

The game begins with an incredible set piece as players are introduced to the four original characters of their posse as they attempt to rob a late-nite train carrying federal gold. However, the train is revealed to be driven by a devil that challenges the gang to a game of poker. If he wins, he takes their souls, and if they win they get the train. However, the devil cheats better than the posse, and they all barely escape with their lives. 

The introduction provides a fantastic microcosm of the larger game. The train setting serves to give the player interesting tactical decisions as posse members approach the train on horses while moving from car to car forces you to deal with bottlenecks along the way. But the train also provides a gorgeous set piece for the action to unfold within. There are great flashes of particle effects, detailed animations, and a lot of character.

During the opening sequence, players are also thoroughly introduced to their character’s posse. I don’t want to spoil too much about the game’s characters, both in the original posse and the characters players find along the way, as getting to know them and exploring their histories is a key part of the experience. Just know that each character has a unique personality, and they are great to get to know and talk to as you adventure through the west. Hard West II does not feature dialogue trees like games such as Mass Effect or Dragon Age, but it still manages to flesh out characters of the same quality and charm. 

While the intro sequence serves as an appetizer for what is to come, the combat encounters only get more layered and fun to navigate as one progresses. Even then, the opening sequence’s combat is so robust that I would have played an entire game with only being able to tweak my posse’s loadouts to mix things up. Then, the game adds supernatural abilities and more to the mix, making it one of the most enjoyable turn-based games I’ve played in recent memory. Even on normal difficulty, the combat is extremely punishing, but that helps make it feel appropriate for the hazardous and often lethal nature of the Hard West. 

Hard West II - But Why Tho (1)

Those who have not played the first game may be wondering what exactly the difference is between the Wild West and the game’s Hard West. The answer is a bunch of supernatural happenings and denizens that make life for the people there an unending nightmare. There are cultists, zombies, and black magicians in just the first few hours, and it only gets stranger and stranger as it goes on. For fans of Westerns, there are still the standard cowboys and Native Americans, but the lore and strangeness of the Hard West go much deeper than what most would expect. 

The nature of the world is explored in part during combat missions, but also in an overworld traveling mechanic that allows the player to explore entire regions. While doing so players can buy supplies and upgrades, talk with local NPCs, pick up side quests, and find points of interest that all serve to help flesh out the world and minor stories. While the overworld traversal isn’t anything too deep or complicated, it does bring some really cool moments along with it and helps space out the grueling combat encounters with fun choices and resource management. 

For fans of turn-based strategy games, the paranormal, or even just Westerns, I have a hard time imagining a reason to not pick up Hard West II. Nearly everything that Hard West II attempts to do is accomplished very well. It offers fantastic and challenging combat, fun characters, an amazing setting, and some truly jaw-dropping moments. 

Hard West II is available now on PC.


Hard West II
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

For fans of turn-based strategy games, the paranormal, or even just Westerns, I have a hard time imagining a reason to not pick up Hard West II. Nearly everything that Hard West II attempts to do is accomplished very well. It offers fantastic and challenging combat, fun characters, an amazing setting, and some truly jaw-dropping moments. 

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