Playing Weird West, it’s hard to shake how much more gracefully other games of this type avoid similar pitfalls, with the abbreviated scavenging of Void Bastards and the easy-to-read interface of Desperados III, another western with a top-down perspective, immediately coming to mind. The latter game also supports far more complex maneuvers despite lacking the sort of pointless granularity that has the player comb through indistinguishable shelves for a handful of ammunition. By contrast, Weird West is a slog dying for an extensive streamline.
Though Sifu features a few dialogue choices and scenes throughout its campaign where you don’t have to fight anyone, its surface-level engagement with martial arts film iconography betrays a lack of humanity that feels typical of works created well outside of the culture that they intend to depict. The game’s story grouses about the downsides of seeking vengeance, but this is plainly the work of people who like to fast forward to the fight scenes.
Eventually, each story hurriedly resolves itself, foregoing tidy lessons or ironic endings but still lacking that crucial, elusive sense of lived-in authenticity. For as much effort has clearly gone into voicing and animating these characters within their 3D environments, we never spend enough time to seem like we really know them; quirks of the game’s strict linearity ensure we remain at a distance, observing relationships that are otherwise too thinly sketched to sustain the game’s emotional ambitions. Last Stop eventually arrives at an all-too-familiar game-design destination, hamstrung by its attempts at verisimilitude.
Where other games tend to have a greater purpose and complexity behind more granular mechanics that demand closer attention from the player, Biomutant remains a rather simplified, if overstuffed, game of loot-hoovering. In practice, you’re still chasing objective markers and wandering salvageable areas in hopes of spotting the “interact with object” indicator. But while Biomutant’s breadth of options does indeed make that familiar process more rewarding than the norm, it never quite offsets the accompanying increase in tedium.