Who is ready for another stealth game? Well, I sure wasn’t, but boy did that mood change insanely quick! I enjoyed reviewing El Hijo – A Wil West Tale to hopefully be drawn into stealth games. This unique indie game was made by the lovely people over at Honing Studios / Quantum Frog. But why is this one different? Why did it make my play well over what I had to? Well, you are about to find out!
We played El HijoY – A Wild West Tale for 8 hours on PC
What we liked!
- A muted story: El Hijo is a stealth game by the hearth. But it’s also trying to tell a lovely story about a mother and her child. You will find yourself filling in most of the story since it’s an actual story without words. Most of it is told through visuals. So you will find yourself having questions from time to time. That being said, the story really pulls you in and gets you hooked once you start! So that’s a significant plus for me!
- Graphics: One word: stunning. But for real now, these graphics are excellent. They aren’t 4K, that’s for sure, but this art style and all of these animations really made it visually pleasing to look and play. Everything felt custom made, and you could really see that they took the right amount of time to handcraft every level. Also, this game has one of the best ultrawide supports I have ever encountered. The extra depth that it brought was nearly impossible to describe. Still, I can tell you it felt insanely immersive this way.
- Variation: The game just never felt repetitive, which is a first for me. Usually, one level tends to be a variation of another, but every stealth encounter felt new. Which forces you to think differently every time. This shows that the developer wanted you to be involved in the playthrough instead of boasting about having 1000 levels.
- Perspective: During your playthrough, you get a mixed level set, where you can play as eighter the mother or the kid. I found this interesting since it allows you to explore what both sides of the story have to do and where the two paths combine—a really unique take on the character swapping.
- Learning curve: The game starts off simple, but I found myself scratching my extra-long corona hair quite fast. The levels get harder and harder. At first, it sounds regular, but they make you think about multiple enemies’ rhythm at once! And the further you get, the more patterns you have to take into a count. This really challenged me.
- Sound design: something to briefly mention. El Hijo has a rather unique take on sound design. It feels real. Sometimes it just feels too real? They sound like actual recordings made by real people, and nothing did say like I heard/experienced them before. This also added to the immersion of the story!
- Controls: I must say, El HijoY had me sparked with joy when I opened the control tab and noticed that they adapted to azerty users! I thought to myself: Finally! A game with automatic keyboard layout swapping? Just like the big games? But alas! I was bound to be having qwerty. Usually, I feel like I’m used to that, but I couldn’t swap the key binds. I tried to, and the game has an option for it, but the whole game crashed 4 times while trying to save them. So I just put my pc on qwerty.I must say, though, that the game has excellent controller support. But mouse and keyboard are okay if you use a qwerty layout. Just felt disappointing that it crashed on me (even after reinstalling the game). It’s a bug, I’m sure about that, but still, for now, quite a bummer.
- Birds-eye-view: when you play around in the game, you get this option to have a bird’s eye view. Which is literally you pulling out a dove that flies around, so you can see the environment. On itself, this is a fantastic mechanic, but I found that it felt like a required mechanic. It’s not there to assist you. You have to use it. Otherwise, you don’t know if an enemy can see you over a wall or not, what their turn radius is for vision. Or you will find yourself hiding behind some barrels in the middle of a maze, being spotted by a monk which you thought was too far away to see around 2 big barrels.
- Kid inspiring: I must say that the kid inspiring is a fantastic mechanic. But I fail to see the rewards from it. You can inspire kids, and by doing this, you get to have more puzzles. But there is no penalty for not inspiring them, nor is there an award for doing so? It just feels nice to do a few times, but you can continue without getting to them if you want to see what the rest of the story is.
What we disliked
- Aiming: I must say, aiming feels clunky. Real clunky. The catapult aim of the mother is all right (not a great experience, though). But when you have to aim your rock over an object, or you have to put down your walking toy, it just feels like a huge struggle. And by the time you get that arc right on the indicator, your enemy is already at a different spot. So, you will have to wait while not moving your mouse. Maybe this is because I’m using a 21:9 display, but it wasn’t satisfying at all to do.
- Different enemies: In most levels, you see other enemies, which seemingly have a different function. An example would be a big royal monk sitting on a bench, with 2 guys next to him. But why is there a royal monk? What does he do? Soo many questions, and only answered by that birds-eye view.
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