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How Evil West blends vampires and Westerns

How two unlikely genres merge together into one of gaming's most original titles of recent times

Evil West is the latest vampire Western game to hit the scene. It’s not exactly a competitive field, as while vampire games and Western games are not uncommon, a combination of the two in video games doesn’t happen that often.

In terms of major releases, the only vampire Western game that comes to mind is 2005’s Darkwatch: Curse of the West. Even that game has mostly faded into obscurity. So needless to say, Evil West seemed fresh and innovative when it first debuted.

What appealed most to me (and several others, I’m sure) was the way Flying Wild Hog took its two concepts and melded them together. With its own sense of style, Evil West promised to deliver an action-packed title filled with hordes of the undead roaming through the Old West. That’s exactly what we got — and though my thoughts on the game were ultimately mixed, I still fell in love with its vampire Western charm.

With its appreciation for what makes its two genres so unique to the ways in which it brings new elements to the table, Evil West pays homage to classic vampire and Western stories while going off in its own direction. Today, we’re going to examine how Evil West merges vampires and Westerns together — and how it makes that blend so damn awesome.

Re-defining vampires

Evil West Game
Creatures of the night? Not a problem for Jesse Rentier.

Given its main enemies are vampires, it’s easy to fall into an assumption that Evil West Today, when most people hear the word “vampire,” they instinctively think of more modern depictions. Think of the seductiveness and elegance of Count Dracula or the boyish charm of Edward Cullen. 

However, these depictions reflect a different, more refined view of vampires. The pre-modern depiction of vampires is much more grotesque and primitive, and the vampires of Evil West are no different. 

Essentially, “vampire” is almost synonymous with “creature” in this case. They are monstrous beasts that possess enhanced strength and a penchant for sucking blood. It’s believed that the original folk tales surrounding vampires were inspired by decomposing corpses, and thus they fit more into the classic description of the undead. 

Though that’s not to say that Evil West doesn’t take a modern approach. Your main antagonists, Peter and Felicity D’Abano, appear as humans for most of the game and have a silver tongue that entices followers to their side. By taking influence from both classic and modern depictions of vampires, Evil West makes its combination of vampires and Westerns (two fairly antiquated genres, let’s be real) seem all the fresher.

Western expansion

Desert Combat
Westward holy crap, that’s a beautiful looking canyon!

Similar to the vampire side of Evil West, you might have a specific opinion in mind when it comes to the game’s Western depictions. If you were going into Evil West thinking that all the environments were going to be dunes, boomtowns, and sandy cliffs — well, you’re partially right.

It’s true that some of the environments, especially in the early game, hit upon a lot of the iconic Western imagery that’s become cliché by this point. The first level, for example, takes place in the aftermath of a steam train robbery (cast in a gorgeous sunset light). Then you’re moving through an abandoned ghost town, swamplands and forests, and muddy oil fields.

But often, the game will also lean heavily into the supernatural elements surrounding vampires and monsters. The vampires of Evil West are an organized and intelligent group, living in the shadows and plotting against humanity. They’ve built structures and monuments deep underground, and their construction is foreign and almost alien.

By subverting those expectations, the game manages to feel less like a traditional Western and instead like something more original. You can see the fantasy and supernatural influences on display around every corner, and yet the game never loses sight of the fact that it’s a classic American West setting. It uses that as a springboard to go off in wilder directions, crafting its own identity by incorporating both old Western tropes and settings and crazier ideas.

Evil West combines vampires, Westerns, and attitude

Evil West Co-Op
Two badasses just looking for the next vampire to shoot.

Beyond the vampires and the Old West setting, the one word I think of when I think of Evil West is attitude. Not in the 90s “in-your-face” sense, but more in the “rebellious teenager saying eff-the-world” sense.

I don’t mean that in a bad way, necessarily. Evil West is a mature game through and through, with characters cursing at each other and an overall unclean vibe. You can almost smell the sweat and testosterone these characters exude in every scene. It’s machismo to the core, almost to the point of being overbearing.

But really, it speaks to a level of simplicity that I find rather charming. There’s no sense of pretension in Evil West, no real reflection on the nature of evil and who the real monsters are. The story doesn’t feel the need to go beyond the basics, and in many ways, I think that’s the best course of action.

Not just because it tells its simple little story well enough. But also because it’s exemplifying some of the best traits of horror and Western games by focusing on the core elements. The vampires are monstrous beasts, the human resistance is badass, and damn any man who isn’t fighting against them. Like any good action movie, the game knows exactly what you’re here to to: kill vampires gorily and messily as an old-fashioned cowboy. And that’s exactly what it gives you.

The vampire Western stylings of Evil West

Evil West Fire
It’s a purty little hellfire, ain’t it?

Making a truly original game is never easy, especially when you’re borrowing from genres that are well and truly established by now. Yet Evil West makes its blend work so well that it’s a wonder there aren’t more vampire Western games on the scene. It makes me wonder: will our obsession with vampires and the Old West see a resurgence? If a game like Evil West can deliver a wonderfully realized world by focusing on the core elements, who will take it to the next level? It’s certainly possible — and I, for one, would love to see it happen.

Evil West is developed by Flying Wild Hog and published by Focus Entertainment. It is available now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam.

What do you think of the vampire Western style of Evil West? What other genre-bending action-horror games do you like? Let us know!

Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein is either A) a lifelong video game fanatic, writer, and storyteller just sharing his thoughts on things, or B) some kind of werewolf creature. We're not quite sure which yet. He also makes mediocre video game retrospectives (and other content!) on YouTube where you can watch him babble on for hours about nothing.
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