Blood West Review — Manifest Death-stiny

Blood West will challenge you to sneak and shoot your way across the rotting, deadly frontier.
Blood West Featured

If there are any aesthetics you can easily combine to make something visually and narratively interesting, it’s the Wild West and supernatural horror. Something about it just works. The image of a grizzled old cowboy loading a silver bullet into his revolver as a ravenous undead monster lurches towards him is truly iconic. I love the combo so much that I have an entire personal Dungeons & Dragons setting that I DM in, so needless to say, I jumped at the chance to give Blood West a review.

Blood West opens on the backdrop of a cold desert night, where gruesome undead monsters feast upon the blood of the American frontier. A native shaman drags the corpse of some unfortunate cowboy up a mountain, where he gives the frontiersman a burial traditional to his people despite his disdain for the foreigners and what they did to their sacred land. An ancient spirit then resurrects the corpse, tasking him to rid the land of its curse before he can finally have his eternal rest.

You are this corpse.

Blood West Volcanic
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

This introduction does a phenomenal job of setting up the game to come; the West is infested with malicious monsters and it’s your job to kill them. The power of the spirit that resurrected you and your undead nature gives you access to abilities no mortal man should, but it’s going to be good old-fashioned American steel that gets most of the job done.

Blood West is a stealth-focused first-person shooter that tasks you with fighting your way across an open map and completing missions for your spiritual guide. You are frail and your enemies aren’t, so a quiet and tactical approach is your best bet for taking on your enemies. Outside of combat, the game challenges you to manage scarce resources like ammunition while rewarding your kills with a leveling system.

Blood West Skills
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Leveling up gives you access to points you can spend on various skills to improve your character. While the majority of these skills are just number adjustments, something I know many RPG game fans have mixed feelings about, the fact that there are over 20 skills to choose from does allow for some deep customization of how you play the game. Most skills have three levels to invest in, meaning you can really focus on certain aspects but you don’t need to dump tons of levels into one skill to benefit from it fully.

When you die in this game, you keep all of your items, money, and experience, but receive what is called a “soul flaw.” Soul flaws fully evolve into curses if you keep dying, which can severely lower your stats and make the game harder. To get rid of these curses, you have to complete little side objectives like collecting feathers or getting five headshot kills. I found these curses to be a nice way to balance player death and difficulty, and the fact that you can get rid of them without straying away from your main objective is a cool feature and one that keeps these debuffs from ever feeling like too harsh a punishment.

Blood West Curse Quest
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Blood West is a difficult game to get your bearings in and make no mistake, if you are unprepared you will be severely punished. It only takes a few hits for your character to go down, and you don’t start with a ton of ammo or healing items to make your journey easier. To defeat the curse that plagues this land, you must carefully explore the surrounding areas and gather ammo, healing items, and stuff to sell to traders.

I didn’t feel the difficulty was unfair or frustrating. I had a long string of deaths due to my carelessness in pursuit of a rare artifact early on in the game. Finally getting my hands on it though, I was given a new sense of confidence that I used to inch my way through the game’s first town, going from building to building and collecting treasure and ammo until I was able to return from the trader with a cool new gun and a skip in my step.

Blood West Coffin
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

That artifact hunt also opened my eyes to the amount of freedom the player is given in this game beyond just the semi-open-world nature of the map. Collecting said artifact was part of a quest from an early trader named Jim Hooper, who offered me $200 for the collection of an item hidden away in an old army lookout tower. After many deaths, I finally got my hands on the Shot Coin, a piece of equipment that offers $3 on every kill. I quickly realized the value of this item and refused to give it to Jim, who raised his prices in frustration with my defiance (though this only seemed to last until my next death.)

That might seem like a low bar for praise, but I’m so tired of games with railroaded direction and easy-to-solve conundrums. The choice to keep the artifact instead of selling it to Jim might be something you’d expect most if not every game to include in situations like this, but you might be surprised by how many opt instead to give you no choice and make the cool artifact just some useless quest item that must be returned for a reward.

Blood West Quest
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Blood West’s non-linear playstyle maintains this freedom, allowing you to complete missions and side quests as you see fit but also to tackle challenges and locations in different ways. While stealth-focused, there is nothing actually stopping you from just going guns blazing and clearing out hordes of enemies (this was my preferred playstyle.) I was also pleasantly surprised by how many hidden paths and optional routes are present throughout the game’s three distinct chapters.

Performance-wise, I had very few issues with Blood West, which is thanks in large part to its incredibly stylish pixelated art style and low-poly environment. Strangely enough, I did face frame drop issues often enough for it to be a noticeable problem, especially in boss fights and when I was being chased by enemies. This didn’t seem to be related to how many enemies were on screen or where I was, so I struggled to identify just what was causing it. Since the game is still in early access as I’m writing this, however, I wouldn’t worry too much about this flaw being present at launch.

Blood West Crossbow
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The Final Word

Blood West is a spine-chilling, grim, and bloody take on the American West, with stealth-focussed combat and non-linear gameplay that shines through the muck of spilled blood and zombie guts. Monsters, curses, and death await you in this brutal quest to save the bleak frontier.


Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Blood West is available on Steam.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.


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