Ever wanted to relive your childhood stealth games by hiding behind the sofa, the curtains and giant pots? How about stealth where so long as you stay in the dark and out of direct light, you are invisible? If that sounds like fun then El Hijo A Wild West Tale is right up your street. It is a stealth puzzle game that keeps the rules simple and fair. As a result, it delivers and consistently enjoyable adventure.
El Hijo (The Boy) sees you play as both a boy and a mother who have been separated after an act of violence. The mother leaves the boy in a monastery but he is having none of it and wants to escape. The only way to do so is avoid all of the monks who’ll capture you. The mother herself is busy seeking revenge. Both of them need to be stealthy and that works perfectly in this isometric stealth puzzler.
The rules are simple. Get to the exit of each of the 27 levels. Every enemy has a cone of vision and you can release a bird into the sky to see it. Doing so means you can’t move but it does mean you can learn enemy patterns. From there you’ll move around the level, dodging enemies and hiding in various spots. El Hijo doesn’t worry about line of sight either – it is about illumination. If you are in darkness, so long as you aren’t standing right next to someone – you won’t be seen. If you run, you might be heard though but the run is for emergency sprints only and needs a very quick recharge after a couple of seconds.
Most of the time you’ll be diving from pot to wall to cupboard on your way to the exit. The desert and the lush monastery gardens look beautiful and let you crouch behind objects too. In dark caves and crypts, it is all about staying in the darkness. Sometimes you’ll have a minecart to play with or some TNT to link up and detonate too. These vary up the missions a little to add some flavour but bear in mind that all the enemies you meet will be dumb.
Enemies might spot you briefly but if you go into hiding they’ll vaguely wander over and then give up and return to their patrol. Stay in public long enough and they’ll give chase. Later on, they’ll fire a warning gunshot if they get close rather than catching you but all enemies can outrun you regardless. Checkpoints are generous though so lost ground is easily won back. This makes El Hijo a largely trouble-free experience as the enemies can be worked like a timing puzzle most of the time. This might mean those looking for a huge challenge might be disappointed but this made the game easy to enjoy for me personally. Enemies can be easily distracted by throwing stones, catapulting lights to darken your way or driving little RC toys down dead ends to make them chase and stomp them to death. These all work nicely.
A fun addition to the main goal is to entertain (read liberate) children on your way to freedom. Most levels have a few children enslaved to do tasks and they require an extra puzzle to pass to reach. Doing so will treat you to a cute scene of the kids playing – most of the time. Sometimes, the kids take a sadistic turn and decide to seek revenge on their captors by poisoning food for example. It made the extra challenge worth the effort to see what they’d do.
El Hijo not only looks great, it sounds great too. Whilst the soundtrack is sparse, it works well – as do the CGI cartoons that pop up every few levels. When you add to that its approachability of its controls and rules of stealth, you have yourself a little gem of a game. I thoroughly enjoyed my playthrough of El Hijo. It offers some great puzzles, decent gameplay, great controls and a simple story in the background. Recommended.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
El Hijo - A Wild West Tale
A very enjoyable family stealth game that is as much a puzzle game as an adventure one.
Stealth mechanics are very cut and dry but that works to the games favour.
Beautiful to look at.
Plenty of extra puzzles and bonuses to clear if you want them.
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