It's clear that WolfEye Studios' wanted to do something different with the Wild West. From the beginning, there's an element of otherworldliness that not only permeates the whole game, but drives the story forward, pulling the player along for a wild (sorry, weird) ride, full of intrigue, mystery and a whole lot o' kicking.
With so many locations to visit, it seems there's an endless supply of goodies to unearth which encourages exploration and offers the chance to experiment with the skill trees without any risk of making a mistake.
Exploration can wear thin as most (but certainly not all) areas are relatively small and some are identical. There are different environments to discover as you're unveiling the world map but the graphical style, though it works well, prevents anything from being particularly noteworthy.
The sole purpose of exploring is for personal gain. If you're working towards unlocking a particular skill, you'll find what you need sooner or later, but, aside from a few core abilities that'll influence how you approach the game, there's nothing you can't live without.
Even stealthy types will want a few combat-focused skills though, as fighting is inevitable and, sometimes, it's just a lot quicker, especially with a companion or two supporting. Thankfully, firefights tend to be short affairs, as the combat itself is simple and not terribly exciting.
Plus, there's only a small number of ranged weapons available, though this, alongside the very basic crafting/upgrading system, can be a welcome change of pace. It cuts down a lot of the menu navigation that is required in other action role-playing games.
How much the story twists and turns is partly dependent on the player, making every action feel significant.
Weird West is more marathon than sprint and it seems a greater amount of time is spent with the first character than any other. This isn't a bad thing; the narrative can slowly build as players familiarise themselves with the various mechanics. Gameplay wise, characters play the same, with only a few select skills that are exclusive to each.
The story, however, deepens with every new soul you visit and every interaction you have. For a short while, the protagonists' lives are intertwined and their fates are in your hands. Many of your decisions will have consequences and, whilst it's easy enough to guide the overarching story where you think it should go, you could cause trouble for yourself in the short-term, by killing a key character before they can share useful info, attracting the attention of bounty hunters or having NPCs you've previously wronged start a vendetta against you, guaranteeing a violent altercation with them in the future.
It's not without its technical issues. Companions will sometimes freeze in place or completely disappear, your horse will often walk around whilst you're transferring items to or from your inventory (moving and, eventually, closing the menu) and at one point we became intermittently incorporeal. These issues, as annoying as they are, can be addressed by reloading an earlier save or forcing a loading screen by travelling somewhere.
Simplicity is at the heart of Weird West. Gameplay is straightforward, dialogue isn't long-winded, cutscenes are not littered throughout and the Narrator chips in sparsely enough to never overstay his welcome. The story being the only exception. How much it twists and turns is partly dependent on the player, making every action feel significant, as the big mystery surrounding these chosen few becomes ever clearer.
With enough dedication, you could spend 30 hours in the Weird West before reaching a satisfying conclusion and none of it would be wasted.