Hard West is a simple sell: It’s cowboy XCOM. Most people I pitched it to at PAX were on board with just that reductive summary, but there’s a lot more to the turn-based Wild West tactics game that’s really worthwhile.
This is why Hard West is smart, deep, rewarding, tough as nails, and absolutely worth paying attention to.
As you begin each stage, Hard West doesn’t immediately enter a combat phase. XCOM doesn’t either, really — you’re allowed to set up and position yourself to initiate — but most of the time you’re on alert immediately or preparing to unleash hell. In Hard West, yes, you have time to scout out enemies, prepare your kill order, and get into cover, but the preparation phase is so much more than this. Levels have secrets to discover, alternate objectives, some of which have a sense of urgency that leads to careful, thoughtful exploration toward a given place. Violence is inevitable and explosive, but the lead-in to drawing your weapon has meaning, whether it has to do with the dark story or the deep gameplay systems.