El Hijo - A Wild West Tale review
3500 MB available space
El Hijo - A Wild West Tale
When her farm goes up in flames after a bandit raid, a tough Wild West mother decides to leave her son - "el Hijo" is Spanish for "the son" or "the child" - in the care of grim-faced monks. But the boy doesn't like the future of life behind monastery walls any more than he likes the prospect of never again being able to hold his slingshot buried in the sand outside the abbey. So he escapes! For the next five hours or so, you steer the boy (and occasionally his mother) through a very nicely designed game world. The many earthy brown and ochre tones convey the comic-like Wild West flair very well, the architecture of the convent, the decoration of the saloons, the many pretty gardens and roofs make El Hijo a feel-good game, even just visually.
This (and the award as "Best Family Game") is also matched by the conscious renunciation of violence - otherwise, a constant companion of the played quiet game. Unlike Sam Fisher, Garrett, Agent 47, or Jack O'Hara, the protagonists of El Hijo cannot become assassins. Instead, the playful possibilities are limited to hiding, running, ducking, pushing and of course, distracting in several versions. From a diagonal perspective, the player directs the character through partly twisted areas - always looking for the exit or passage to the next level. A small bird, which can be sent out (and rudimentarily controlled) at the push of a button, lets the camera zoom out a bit - this provides a much-needed overview, makes the guards' cones of vision recognizable, but you are also immobile while using it.
El Hijo - A Wild West Tale is not only extremely attractive, but also fundamentally likable - you'll discover nice details in many places, plus the lack of violence and the option to encourage other children who, for example, also have to hold out in the monastery. In terms of gameplay, we have little to complain about but unfortunately wasn't carried away either: The basic sneaking, hiding, or running away works well, but the gadgets are quite manageable and the level design is too formulaic in quite a few places. It is not always clear when or why the enemies have just caught you. The story, told in silent sequences, is pleasing, but unfortunately just as unexciting as the rest of the game. On the other hand, short sections with the mother provide a plus of variety. As a family-friendly, less complex alternative to the sneaky heavyweight Shadow Tactics, El Hijo is well worth a look.