The Monster Designs of EVIL WEST
Written by Jonathan WojcikEvil West was a shooter released in November of 2022, featuring vampires and ghouls in a wild west setting. Reviews are mixed, but its bestiary is just the sort that we like to delve into around here, and the lore behind the monsters is pretty killer, as we'll get to eventually!
First, let's look at the weakest and most basic monster: the Infected Vessel is just a naked ghoul with railroad spikes driven into its back, iron shackles hanging from its limbs and a cage of metal bands bolted around his head, but it also has a few giant sized leeches hanging off its torso, and its entire right arm is engulfed by a huge leech, so we're off to a good start! The vampires in this setting are using bloodsucking animals, such as leeches and of course vampire bats, to spread an infection that turns humans and animals into makeshift vampiric beings or "foulbloods."
The vessel's big leech arm glows fiery orange, as do many other "energy weapons" used by Foulblood monsters.
This variant on the basic zombie is covered in nasty, yellowish pustules and is just one of those self-destructing explosive enemies. I kind of both like and dislike this trope; it was interesting the first few times I saw it, back in the day, but it kind of feels like the laziest and easiest power to slap onto something in a video game, and sometimes kind of like a waste of a cooler creature design, if you ask me! The waster is especially delightful, aesthetically, because its entire head is encased in a giant leech, like a faceless and tapering mask!
Oddly enough however, the in-game lore just calls the head a "tentacle." This won't be the only time the descriptions fail to acknowledge the actual designs, which implies that either the descriptions were written by people who weren't sure what they were looking at, or these were written first and concept artist decided to make the creatures a bit more interesting than the written prompts.
Our third "zombie mob" for this game is where that confusion, miscommunication, or artistic liberty really shows; the description says this creature uses explosive parasitic worms as weapons, and other game materials refer to its weaponry as "blobs" or "parasitic slugs," but those are unmistakably giant, bloated TICKS! It's got leeches wrapped around its arms for good measure, and I think this is actually the first monster we've ever seen on this website to incorporate both ticks and leeches, which are essentially the two animal mascots of my life. If only it had a more interesting face! This should have been the one with the entire leech head!
Artur Chocowski's concept art shows some early takes on these basic ghouls, and they include a tragically unused design where the entire head is a tick. There could have been leech head AND tick head options?! I also like the one where the leech head is dangling forward, like an elephant trunk. The small end of a leech is the mouth end, so that makes sense! It could have still bitten people this way!
Carrion Husk is a much larger, grodier zombie guy, heavily armored with chunks of wood and scrap iron, but underneath that armor are more of our little friends:
Up close and without the glow effect of the Proteus, the ticks are anatomically quite accurate, except for having only six legs, but that's not something anyone is gonna notice during gameplay. Carrion Husk was created and finalized by Svein Yngve Sandvik Antonsen.
This is basically just a werewolf, and apparently one that began serving vampires in the hopes of being "cured." But joke's on them! The vampires "cured" them of their human form! Get furry'd, idiots!
The Nagal are actually a little cooler in-game; even though this isn't shown on the artwork in the bestiary screen itself, their gameplay model is thick with porcupine-like quills, which matches final conceptual work by Anna Podedworna...
A great big brute whose right arm employs multiple leeches like a giant tentacle hand, his head is covered over by a leech, and one more leech dangles kind of obscenely from his stomach. The description here finally acknowledges leeches, but it implies the Leecher itself is supposed to be a mutant hybrid of human and leech, whereas what we're seeing still feels like the hominid and annelids are distinct organisms in symbiosis.
Vicious, skinless ghouls with claws and teeth. Pretty straightforward and kind of one-note, except for the lore stating that they wear stolen human skins but just "aren't civilized or smart enough" to hide among actual humans. This is a funny thing to say, because by definition you would never know for sure how many of them might be great at blending in. For all this author knows, every single person in his life is a Boo Hag and they all laugh at his little bestiary entries whenever he's not around.
This thing's a giant, mutated, burrowing mammal of some sort; hairless, blind, muscular and bipedal, its head rotten away to a skull and long, thin claws on its massive broad hands. I really like the detail of all the plant roots dangling off it, too! The taxonomy is hard to place, however; the clawed hands imply a mole, but the rodent teeth imply a mole rat!
The Gowrow seems to be the work of Anna again, but I'm a little more partial to her final illustration; while the 3-d render would give it a bare skull, this more fleshed version makes it more obvious that it never had any eyes, and I really like the webs of plant roots dangling off it, complete with suspended tubers!
Okay...this boss monster is absolutely not a "flying maggot-like hybrid" as its description implies. It's a fused blob of mutated corpses that runs and swings around on giant, spiny tentacles, like a Cephalopod that wanted to be a spider. Still wondering what happened here, exactly; the lore was never updated after the art team took things in their own direction, or the lore was written by someone who wasn't sure what they were looking at?
Wonderful concept! This is a withered, floating corpse whose back is bursting open into a big, luminous, trypophobic beehive, and it has other hives that float around it like orbiting balloons Wacky! Apparently it's full of moths and flies, which transport droplets of its infected goo to the mouths of other vampires. The beautiful ecological process of pollination in action.
Hive Crone has a giant long tongue and oversized talonlike fingers, for good measure.
Screeching DevilThe lore implies that these are the in-universe equivalent to the Jersey Devil! Maybe they should've just called it that honestly, but it's a TOP quality design, however you wanna frame it! It's wasp-shaped with insectlike wings and a bony stinger, but it's otherwise a meaty batlike vertebrate with clawed arms. Its strange, eyeless flower-like head is closed up in the bestiary screen, but character modeler Kamil Bigos really shows off its inner workings:
In its open position, the Screeching Devil's face isn't just a set of fleshy, tooth-lined petals, but kind of evoke the huge ears of a bat, complete with more bat-like fangs at the center!
While perhaps coincidental, I like the Devil's convergent conceptualization with the Flooer from After Man.
This is a bigger, tougher monster with a grublike lower body, lots of sharp crustaceoid legs and a humanoid upper torso, decorated with the usual nails and chains as well as a giant fan of pipes, fenceposts and blades sticking out of its back. Snazzy! The lore tells you they were created by a vampire to protect his daughter, Felicity; she's the main villain of the game, though she usually appears in disguise as a human child.
Kamil shows off a "naked" render of the Bruch on artstation, where you can more clearly see how the worm body splits or forks into two large "jaws," with the humanoid torso emerging between them, but what's really cool to me is how each "jaw" splits again at the end into a formidable scorpion-like pincer! I've seen a lot of worm-shaped monsters with a split maw, but none that turn those oral lobes into "claws" this way.
The Stalker's game model seems to be modified from the Nagal, but it's fairly well disguised, since it's thickly wrapped in spider silk with a giant reddish widow-looking spider perpetually clinging to its back. It's a pretty badass visual! Stalkers are apparently employed by vampires to hunt down and capture specific targets, bringing them back alive in a silk cocoon.
The concept art for the Stalker shows a creature a little more distant from the werewolf design as well, with multiple spiders, and the empty cocoons covering its chest - toned down a bit in the game - actually look more like those left behind from parasitoid wasps. The glowing eyes of the symbiotic arachnids make me think they do all the seeing for their host, since its eyes, if it had any, are completely covered over in silk.
Vampire HighbornThe most powerful of all vampiric species, apparently, and portrayed in the game as a demon-like humanoid bat wrapped in mummy bandages. Not terrible or anything, it does its job I guess, but the concept art for this one was SO much better:
While still humanoid, the early design for the highborn had slightly less human proportions and a more realistically Chiropteran face, more like a real world wrinkle-faced bat with a lovable needly-toothed batty mouth. There's a "cuteness" to it that doesn't detract in the slightest from its frightening or cool qualities, and then, of course, there's the fact that it's all covered in little bats! Bats dangling all over its torso, hanging off the inside of its wings, and even kind of merging with its chest and stomach, bat wings forming a kind of makeshift rib cage around a glowing core.
I can understand not wanting to model and render an entire bat colony into one enemy, but just the humanoid bat portion of this has its own fun personality.
William RentierThis character is saved from death by the infection, but then decides being a vampire is awesome. He's correct, but I guess that puts him at odds with the player character, a notorious buzz-kill. William still looks like just a guy, but he walks around and battles with all those lovely giant worm tentacles. Some have larger tripartate jaws that function kind of like three-clawed "hands," while others just split open at the end into kind of spoon-shaped lamprey maws, a pleasing shape for such a maw, I think! Nice and scoop-like!
FelicityThe "true form" of the aforementioned scary little girl is the final boss of the game, a really over-the-top hulking demon with sharp spines, scraggly hair, glowing white eyes and oversized jaws full of slobbery fangs. She looks straight off a 1990's Heavy Metal album cover or a Todd Mcfarlane action figure, in a fairly fun way.
Parasiter!This magnificent boss is my easy favorite design in the game; a huge, mutated leech with additional branching heads, like a hydra! Its smaller heads have mouths that stretch open with two "upper jaws" and one lower, each ending in a single hook, with more hook-like jaws at the center. The monster's primary head, however, opens into a four-pointed gullet with almost eye-like suckers within the throat, overall looking like a warped, ghoulish giant face.
In the game model, Parasiter is striped remarkably like some species of actual medicinal leech, and the animations of its many heads, the way they latch on to the ground and pulsate, tells me the art team studied the real thing quite closely! Not to mention the heaps of fat, wet leeches littered around the arena. The lore says that Parasiter was mutated by the sacred blood of "The Mikinaak," which is what I was talking about earlier when I said the actual nature of Evil West's vampires was cool as heck:
The MikinaakThis creature is never actually seen in-game, but it's a huge, ancient, crocodile-like beast whose corpse has spawned all manner of vampires and mutants as it's continued decomposing for many centuries. It's like a whalefall! Like vampires and werewolves are just a bunch of terrstrial hagfish and isopods picking at the same sunken carcass!
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