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Game review: Hard West

A solid clone of the modern XCOM games with a few twists making it fresh.

Hard West takes place in a world based on the wild west with fantastical elements added on top. I enjoyed this setting a lot, especially the lovecraftian mysteries left with no clear explanation.

The main innovation to the gameplay is the way probability works. It’s not random at all! Each character has a specified amount of luck which serves as a health or armor against the probability (sic!). If an enemy has 100 luck (it’s hidden for the enemies but can be guessed) and I have 95% chance to hit, I’ll surely miss but it’ll subtract 95 from their luck, leaving them with 5, allowing me to hit even a 10% shot. Luck regenerates after getting hit: the more unlikely the hit was, the more luck is gained back. I’ll spare you the exact math but I checked and the overall probability distribution seems to be correct. It’s just predictable in this case. This system never feels unfair and allows for some really interesting tactics such as depleting the enemy’s luck with weak accurate weapons and finishing them off with a powerful yet inaccurate weapon.

Luck also serves as a fuel for special abilities forcing us to choose between offense and defense. The abilities are diverse and add flavor to the combat.

Apart from the tactical combat, there is also an overworld map which works very differently in each campaign, keeping it from getting stale to the very end. In one campaign we’re conquering the natives while in another we’re investigating a local mystery while fighting the madness creeping in. All of this with a common overarching story.

For me the best summary of Hard West would be “an arcade XCOM”, and that’s a good thing.