A boy on a quest to reunite with his mother while inspiring countless orphaned children to reach for the stars. Honig Studios make perfect use of this timeless scenario for their new game, El Hijo – A Wild West Tale. It is a spaghetti-western stealth game with puzzle elements. El Hijo looks like your typical spaghetti-western, but there is a twist. The game does not have any killing, gun-slinging or violence of any sorts so it is perfectly suited for players of all ages.
Our protagonist is a six year old boy, El Hijo. After his father died, he is left alone with his mother to care for their farm, but their bad luck was just beginning. Their farm got attacked and razed to the ground by a group of bandits. In perfect western style our protagonist’s mother taught him everything she knew before confiding him to a monk. He was to live with the monks in their secluded monastery for protection. However she did not count on her son’s mischievousness. He decided that the life of a monk was not for him and that he would rather reunite with his mother. Follow El Hijo on his journey to reconnect with his beloved mother. On this journey he also hopes to inspire as many kids as he can on the way to finding her.
El Hijo – A Wild West Tale boasts some charming cartoonish artwork. It is well-fitted to the subject matter. Considering the main character is a six years old boy, I think the developers have made the best choice they could when it comes to the aesthetics. The cut scenes have similar whimsical and childlike characteristics. They look like they could have been taken right out of a television’s cartoon. The quality is excellent. Those cut scenes serve to tell the story of El Hijo and his mother, their separation and the protagonist’s subsequent adventures. There are no voice acting or narration of any kind, but the animations speak for themselves. The developers show a lot of skill when communicating the story. It is no easy feat to convey emotions to a public without uttering a single word. The graphics are of the same great quality. They portrait the atmosphere and the western’s style superbly. A warm color palette is used to create the quintessential western’s atmosphere. You can easily see the thematic represented throughout the game.
As stated before, the story is told solely by using cut scenes. The developers have use this medium expertly to share the tale of El Hijo with the player. I loved it. It is an interesting take on the spaghetti-western genre. Even though the story is quite emotional, the developer managed to keep the game lighthearted and fun. Do not expect the usual gun-slinging, it is not that type of western. In fact there is really no violence at all. Instead of using combat to get out of tight spots, you will be sneaking around, hiding, distracting the enemies and if all else fails… run for your life. Later in the game you will be able to stun your enemies but the whole point of the game is to avoid any and all confrontation with adults. After all you are playing as a six years old boy so you really do not want to get into a fight. Instead you are trying to go unnoticed by the adults. In the meantime you are trying to inspire as many kids as you can reach.
The game consists of 29 levels. In each of the level there is a specific area to be cleared. You start in the monastery and make your way through it before moving on to the next location. Each level is a self contained puzzle. You have to avoid being seen by the enemies. They can only see you if you step in their field of vision so you will have to go around. However in certain areas you cannot avoid being seen so you will need to distract them while you hide. In addition every level contains a certain amount of orphans. The goal is to inspire them. That can involve different actions, but it always starts with “El Hijo” talking to the child. After that he will be performing a variety of different actions, for example at one point he juggles with some rocks or makes a paper airplane. He performs different fun actions that inspire the kids. At the end of every level, you can see how many kids you inspired. If you wish to you can always go back and see which one you missed. Of course the goal is to find them all.
The puzzles are generally well balanced. There is some amount of strategy involved in solving each level, but in general the difficulty is fairly easy. There are only a couple puzzles that are more challenging and require more thinking. In fact El Hijo is the perfect game for a player that is new to the stealth genre and wants to learn the ropes. The progression is slow although there are a couple of levels that seem to break the flow. As the difficulty increases, the player is presented with new mechanics. The developers have done an excellent job teaching these new mechanics in a clear and easy manner. One thing I greatly appreciate are the numerous save points through each level. That is one aspect that is often missing in that type of games. In El Hijo, however, the save points are frequent enough that you rarely have to redo the same puzzle’s portion. It makes it easy to try out different strategies without getting frustrated. If you do get caught by an adult, you will simply respawn at the last save point.
El Hijo – A Wild West Tale is perfect to play in smaller relaxing session in between other more demanding games. El Hijo – A Wild West Tale with its interesting straightforward yet challenging puzzles is a perfect introduction for those new to the stealth genre. While seasoned players will enjoy its engaging mechanics and adorable characters. It is a charming game with delightful graphics, a truly emotional story and simple yet captivating gameplay. The developers have really outdone themselves with this gem of a game!
Written by Vee