El Hijo – A Wild West Tale is a new non-violent stealth game with a cute spaghetti western aesthetic from publisher HandyGames and developer Honig Studios. It’s a game about a young boy who isn’t happy with where he is so he decides to break out and seek out his mother. Let’s see how it turned out.
When you begin the game, you’ll watch some animated cut scenes that show our young boy El Hijo’s home end up burned to nothing. El Hijo’s mom then decides it would be in the boy’s best interest if he remains at a monastery so she leaves him there and disappears. El Hijo isn’t happy here though and so he breaks out in order to find his mother. Every bit of the story is conveyed through the cut scenes with no spoken dialog being present and it works as I was able to easily follow along with everything that was going on. With the game not having violence in it and the theme being a boy trying to find his mom it makes for a great little game for younger gamers to play or to play with them watching.
El Hijo is just a young boy so he doesn’t exactly have the strength to be fighting anyone in this stealth game. Instead you have to navigate several dozen levels presented in an isometric view and use things in the environment to your advantage in order to get past any enemies that are present. Like a lot of stealth games, you can take cover behind or in various objects such as pots, coffins, and curtains to remain out of sight and use the shadows to your advantage. If at any point you are spotted and caught then the game sends you back to your last checkpoint to try again. You also have some tools at your disposal to help make it easier to stay out of their sight. Using R1 lets you get a better view of the area and displays a sightline for each enemy. This can help give you a better idea of what you need to do and how to approach the situation. El Hijo can also use rocks and wind-up toys as distractions to lure enemies away. The levels start off kind of small and easy but get more difficult and more wide open as you progress through the game so you’ll be using all of these things to try and figure your way around.
You’ll also come across other children throughout the levels who act sort of like collectibles in this game. You aren’t required to help them but it gives you something extra to do in each level. When you free them El Hijo will talk with them and teach them something and in turn you may get something helpful in return. Just the fact that I was helping teach another kid something gave me a little bit of joy and made me want to seek each one out. You also gain the ability to play as another character during the game who has their own tools but I won’t speak on that any further. Beating all of the levels should only take around 5 hours or so depending on how fast you figure out the solutions. In terms of what I didn’t like about the game is that I don’t think it offers enough challenge for more seasoned stealth game players. It’s pretty easy to stay away from the enemies and the checkpoints make it easy to get right back where you were if you do mess up. I also found myself feeling like it got a little repetitive so it might be the type of game that is best played a few levels at a time.
The art style the game uses is cute and charming as I said in the opener and since it’s set in the wild west it uses a lot of bright and warm colors. Each of the environments such as the monastery, fields, and old western towns have a lot of detail packed into them as well. The sound effects are more minimal in this game as is the music which just kind of fades into the background but I thought it fit the western time period. Those interested in the trophies will find 23 of them including a Platinum trophy. Most of them will come naturally with the hardest one being to beat each level without being caught.
El Hijo – A Wild West Tale is a charming little spaghetti western stealth game that gamers of all ages can enjoy. It might not be hard enough for more seasoned gamers but the level design and puzzles do get more challenging as you make your way through. I also just really like the theme of a young boy trying to find his mom and being able to help other children along the way. If you’re looking for a new stealth game to spend a few hours with that asks you to use things other than violence to sneak around then El Hijo is worth checking out.
*El Hijo: A Wild West Tale is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
El Hijo: A Wild West Tale$19.99
- Charming story involving a mom and son
- Great Spaghetti Western setting and art style
- Levels get more challenging as you progress with checkpoints helping to relieve failures
- Probably not challenging enough for more seasoned stealth players
- Gameplay can start to feel repetitive