Written for the Escapist Magazine, recreated in-part with permission.
In media, The West is a trackless landscape where families struggle to make their way in life while beset by bandits and other opportunists. Although there are armed sheriffs protecting islands of stability cut off from civilization back east, enough men and guns can overthrow just about any town. On this frontier, good men are only as good their gunslinging allows them to be, and great men are often shot down trying to maintain order. Hard West brings turn-based tactics to this setting, with a challenging style and dangerous mechanics requiring clever forethought, tactical acumen, and more than a little luck to survive. It’s also part of that supernaturally-tinged subgenre – the Weird Western – that tends to bring in a little of the steampunk and horror genres alongside more historical conflicts.
Hard West starts with two good men in tough times, fresh off the Oregon trail, making what life for themselves they can in the lawless West. Mid-journey, a mother is kidnapped, and the father, his name unknown, sets out to save his spouse however he can. This encounter is the tutorial, introducing the players to the game’s combat systems. The father creeps along the edges of wells, fences, and cellars on his way into the kidnappers’ hideout. After slaying the men who took his wife, he finds her slain as well. Without his spouse, or much in the way of provisions, the man and his son Warren settle down, hoping to strike enough luck and gold to get back on the Oregon trail – and back toward a better future.