During the height of the pandemic, Among Us shot to popularity; partly due to being a way to socialise with people whilst retaining your distance, and partly because it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to spend time with friends, and the game still retains a modest popularity to this day.
It’s only normal then that other games would try to capitalise on that same format, and West Hunt is probably the most interesting of those. Being a third person game in the Wild West, I was certainly excited to see whether or not they managed to pull it off.
Many thanks to the publisher for the review code.
YOU SHOT AN INNOCENT
Playing very much like Among Us albeit in the Wild West, the Outlaw (or Outlaws when playing with more people) need to accomplish a set number of nefarious tasks to win, whereas the Sheriffs need to catch them in the act and eject them from the proverbial airlock via a bullet to the skull. It’s a social deduction game in essence, where you need to examine how each NPC is acting in order to find out who the outlaw is among them.
Each of the sizeable maps have a time limit for the Outlaw to achieve their primary goals. Achieving those objectives will increase their notoriety and give the Sherriff clues as to when and where they did their dastardly deed, but alternative secondary missions can be done to reduce notoriety in exchange for wasting valuable time. The Sheriff, on the other hand, needs to wander around looking for anyone suspicious and can shoot whoever they feel is the villain.
It’s a really great concept, but unfortunately there are a number of issues that set it back somewhat. Controlling the characters can feel somewhat clunky at times due to the game’s tank controls, and getting around can seem to take forever. From the Outlaw’s perspective this all works great as it helps you to blend in with the NPCs far easier, but as the Sherriff it means that exploring the map and finding the wrongdoers is frustratingly slow. Considering you have a job to do, it would have been nice if they had a slightly faster walk speed as there’s no need for them to blend in at all.
There’s also not a sizeable chunk of tasks that the Outlaw is able to do, and the method of doing them all remains the same. Regardless of whether you’re stealing medicine, poisoning water, or kissing a girl, all you really do is stand in one place and hold the B button. It gets quite boring as all you need to do is ensure the Sheriff isn’t nearby, who is helpfully highlighted in red and appears on the map, thus making it extremely simple. Among Us also only had a limited number of tasks, but each one of those had their own little minigame for you to complete.
And that really summarises the game as a whole. Outlaws need to hold a button on their objective while the Sherriff isn’t near, and simply walk away if he does head in your direction. It’s remarkably simple, and makes playing as the Sheriff a matter of luck as to whether or not you get lucky and find someone acting off. It’s extremely unbalanced and makes it not a lot of fun for either side.
These issues may be mitigated somewhat when playing larger matches with more people, but I could only ever get connected to a 1 vs 1 match. There is the option to set up private rooms with friends, and that probably will be the best way of playing as you’ll be able to talk to one another via other means, but if that isn’t an option then you may be stuck being against one other player or bots – which just isn’t very fun at all.
There’s a great idea at the heart of West Hunt, but it doesn’t seem to have been realised in the current build. It’s far too tedious and unbalanced at present to be fun outside of playing with other friends, and even then the dull gameplay means you’ll probably tire of it quickly. It’s certainly something that could improve in future updates, however, so I hope the team continues to support it and turn the game into something worth playing.