Don't Die in the West review - character riding his horse accross the desert.

Don’t Die in the West review – saddle up cowboy

Looking to live the Western outlaw dream? Saddle up cowboy, since Don’t Die in the West allows you to set up and upgrade your ranch, fight bandits, and explore the world and nearby towns for resources, all while building relationships with various NPCs. The concept is interesting and managed to catch my attention early on, but the large amount of bugs causes too much inconvenience to make the game enjoyable. At least, for now. In our Don’t Die in the West review, we’ll go through all the pros and cons and see what it would take for the game to be worth recommending.

Don't Die in the West review - bandits outside Frank's ranch.

The story is set in motion when you inherit your uncle’s ranch with the goal of making it fully functioning (with a barn and more), before the nearby railroad is fully completed. Failing will result in having to sell your ranch to the highest bidder, although, during my playthrough, I didn’t reach that point to see if it’s actually possible to lose from that.

As for story progression, there isn’t much. You meet a few characters occasionally while exploring, but the focus in this game isn’t really the main narrative. Instead, you always focus on improving your ranch by crafting new stations and setting up animal and crop farms. There are some story elements here and there, mostly to keep track of your progression, but that’s as far as it goes. It feels more like a sandbox open-world game with minimal story interactions, similar to Stardew Valley.

Don't Die in the West review - standing outside the Saloon on the main town.

In terms of gameplay, you explore the world for items and recipes, while building up relationships with NPCs around the world. Each one offers various small quests that award more recipes and slightly direct you toward the next step. In terms of available content, there is a wide variety of items to be crafted, NPCs, and potential recipes to unlock. Additionally, there are even boss fights which are required to progress.

However, this entire concept falls short due to the large amount of bugs. NPCs end up flying around the map, dialogues sometimes remain on the screen and overlap with the next dialogue, quests stay marked as incomplete even after doing everything to complete them, and many enemies stay still without attacking back. The last one happened while fighting the boss in the mines, which took away all the excitement from the fight.

Issues don’t end there. Since there is no story to guide you, it’s easy to get lost in the early stages of the game. For instance, at one point, my next task was to build a smelter, but there were no hints regarding where to find the blueprint or how to complete the quest related to it. On top of that, tools break extremely fast, I couldn’t even manage to build a chest to store my items. Since inventory is limited, I often ended up dropping items on the ground, thus making my house a mess.

Don't Die in the West review - staying near a campfire at nighttime.

As for the graphics, the game looks great. The world is beautiful and vast while staying true to the Western theme. NPCs have a nice design and there are various unique characters and animals around the world. In terms of performance, the game mostly ran smoothly at 144 FPS. However, it often had stuttering issues while running around the world, as the surrounding biomes loaded. On the bright side, the devs are aware of the issue and are working to fix it as soon as possible.

Audio-wise, the music fits the Western theme. It switches between calm vibes while on the ranch and more uplifting and empowering tunes during combat. Even better, it matches the theme of the Wild West without necessarily limiting itself to country tunes, which is a welcome feature.

Don't Die in the West review - exploring the desert on horse.

Also, during my Don’t Die in the West review, I had the opportunity to try the co-op feature. Unfortunately, the multiplayer leaves much to be desired due to additional bugs and some questionable features. Starting with bugs, the map wasn’t updating for either of us and quests weren’t completing either.

As for features, it was frustrating that only one player was getting the early-game quest rewards, such as the slingshot, the revolver, and most recipes. Whenever my slingshot broke, I had to ask my friend to craft another one since I never got the recipe. Additionally, certain story cutscenes (e.g. when setting off the large TNT blast) were only visible to the player who hosted the game. The others simply saw the barricade disappear, instead of the explosion animation.

Don't Die in the West review - Stetson ranch campfire and bedroll setup.

All in all, while Don’t Die in the West features a beautiful world with fun character design and enough content to keep you engaged, the vast amount of bugs and poorly implemented multiplayer leave much to be desired. Without the bugs, I would recommend the game without hesitation. However, at the moment, it’s better to wait a bit, at least until the first few optimization updates. This game has great potential but only when some of its core issues are fixed. Until then, consider trying out a different life-sim by checking out our My Time at Sandrock review.

Our Don’t Die in the West review was made possible with a Steam key provided by Funday Games. Don’t Die in the West is available on Steam.

Don't Die in the West: A cozy western cowboy life-sim that fails to impress due to multiple bugs and issues. Harry Mourtzanakis

von 10

Harry Mourtzanakis

Harry has been a gaming fan ever since the days of Gameboy Advance and over the past 20 years, the one thing that has remained stable is his love for anything video game-related. Nowadays, you'll see him enjoying almost any type of game including FPS, survival, RPG, farming sims, and soulslike titles. Sometimes it’s all about action and intense fights, and others it’s better to relax in a cozy farmhouse. Combined with his Master's in Philosophy, Harry is able to share his passion for gaming through guides, reviews, and more.