El Hijo: A Wild West Tale is a full on stealth puzzle game. You play as a young lad on a quest to search for his missing mother. The character lacks the means to confront the adults standing in his way so the only way forward is to sneak past everyone. He’s so proficient at it, he could be raised by Solid Snake himself.
The game has a charming, hand drawn art style that looks great in motion. The level design is pretty fantastic as well. The design is pretty straight forward and objects in the game lead the player’s eyes to possible solutions as well as give subtle hints. As you progress further in the game, new game play mechanics are introduced that add more degrees of challenge in making it to the destination. The game isn’t too difficult but it is no cake walk either. Thankfully, the game has a generous check point system that auto respawns you if you ever get caught.
There are bits of narrative sprinkled here and there throughout the game. They are mostly disjointed and brief but they give a general idea as to what is happening in the world and implies the existence of a more sinister undertone, despite the cute cartoon graphics. For example, in later levels, you see children chained together and forced to work in mines.
Overall, El Hijo is a fantastic stealth puzzle game. The well designed maps lead you to the solution while making it difficult enough where you feel smart for figuring it out. The art style looks great and the narrative is not overbearing while substantial enough to flesh out the world. I do have some minor gripes as there are a few bugs where interacting with certain objects will potentially make you stuck. I did run into one hilarious bug where interacting with a mine cart made me stationary but I could still drive it off screen. Bugs aside, the stealth puzzles were actually fun and enjoyable and moments of frustration were pretty limited.