You hammer through the underbelly of this mining town, strategically bashing items out of rocks (you don’t want to find yourself trapped down there in the dark, believe me) and double-jumping to secret areas that hopefully hide handy treats. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to scoot back topside to refill your lamp, trade and speak with local yokels about, you guessed it, mining and earthquakes and other such desert-based topics. And of course you can upgrade your gizmos. Because what would a metroidvania game be without gear-gating? Now I like gunslinging and bounty hunting as much as the next Doc Holliday but Steamworld Dig 2’s exploration and puzzle-solving makes for a nice change of pace, even if its intensity comes from crumbling rocks and lava instead of intimidating gazes from the local villains.
Playing a lot like XCOM in a stetson, Hard West earns its place on this list with its bouncing bullets. Ricochet shots off buckets and you can snipe enemies cowering in cover, which is all we’ve ever really wanted in a western game. It has other things to recommend it – Hard West is a hybrid of XCOM-like tactics game and a light RPG where the story decisions impact the heroes you take into battle. If you’ve played Jagged Alliance, you’ll be familiar with the idea. But there’s something very true to the western about dragging wounded heroes through a number of battles, their mistakes and injuries adding up over time. It also does some interesting things with the idea of luck – not the only game on this list to do this. Luck acts as a bonus shield, increasing the chances of a bullet skimming past your ear as long as you’ve got some on tap. You yourself can tap into luck to pull off trick shots and other flashy techniques, though you do run the risk of your luck literally running out and something terrible happening in the next turn.
As the game continues it shifts from traditional western tales to daft fights against satanic beasts – which is kind of a shame, as we’d have happily played a whole game of cabin shootouts and farmyard tussles. I guess if you were a fan of Red Dead’s zombie filled expansion you’ll probably get a kick out of this one… If you’re more of a Mclintock! or A Million Ways to Die in the West kinda person versus, say, High Plains Drifter, then West of Loathing might just be for you. Crudely drawn, in more ways than those stick figured visuals, this Western spoof is the epitome of role-playing heaven for folks looking for fun of the themed kind. Set in the fictional “Distant Lands,” just west of Loathing, this comedic bent on the American Southwest of the nineteenth century, includes the good, the bad and the weird of this genre. Character classes, for example, fall between Cow Punchers (the heavy lifters a la ‘saddle-up-the-wagons-pilgrim’ John ‘The Duke’ Wayne); Beanslingers, which is code for spellcasters (because if Bone Tomahawk or Cowboys and Aliens taught us anything it is that Westerns need some supernatural forces to make it extra deadly);