Westerado: Double Barreled
Developed by Ostrich Banditos
Published by Adult Swim Games
Available on PC
Your brother and mother have been killed, and your ranch has been burned down. With his dying breath, your brother points you to your uncle’s farm in search of the killer. From this point on, the list of people you can trust is pretty short. Everyone seems to know something about the killer, it’s up to you to find out their price. Welcome to Westerado.
In every game, the killer is randomized, and as you do tasks for people, they’ll reveal a detail about the killer, from the color of his belt buckle, to the size of his hat, that paint a picture of his identity. These details are all neatly stored in your journal. As you narrow down the physical description of the killer, the picture on the left will change to reflect the clues.
The pixelated art style works very well in this game, as it is detailed enough that you’re never left guessing at to what something is. The argument is often made that pixel art is “lazy” or “easy”; one look at games like Westerado: Double Barreled, or The Escapists, should be enough to lay that to rest. The attention to detail, such as the beat down path of wagon wheels in the dirt, or water lapping against a shore, really brings the world to life.
The map is broken down into screens, with each screen representing a ‘piece’ of the map proper. Checking your journal allows you to see how much of the map is unlocked, as well as how everything fits together. Westerado: Double Barreled also includes a “Fast Travel” component in the form of horses commissioned by the NTS. These horses allow you to move from one place to another quickly, eliminating long treks across the map. However, given the game’s soundtrack, sometimes a little a travel is far from a bad thing.
The game features a stunning soundtrack. From the main menu I was hooked. The music feels like it was lifted from the Spaghetti Westerns of eras passed, and really create a verisimilitude of the Ol’ West. The sound effects are crisp; squeezing the trigger on your six shooter sounds amazing. The crack of the hammer igniting the gunpowder transports you. The music also does a wonderful job of alerting you to danger. When bandits are around, the music changes to a “grittier” feel, and maintains this until all the danger is taken care of, or until you take a dirt nap.
The HUD is very clean. Apart from seeing the action on-screen, there is a cutout of a six-shooter in the upper left corner, which shows you if you’re gun is cocked (if you have it drawn), how many bullets you have left in the cylinder, and your “hats”, or lives. You can buy more hats, to a maximum of 3, at a haberdashery however. The game relies heavily on a twitch mechanic for combat, due to you, and enemies, dying from a single shot. This is further maddening by the need to cock your weapon after every shot, and reload. Add to this that there is no aiming reticule, just the hope that you’re lined up correctly when you fire. You will likely get shot a few times, but if you’re lucky, you might manage to knock an enemy’s hat off. Doing so will allow you to collect the hat, and give you an extra life.
There’s a few different ways to make money. You can accompany caravan deliveries and protect them from bandits for some cash, or you can play a couple hands of poker at the saloon. You can upgrade your weapons, and change your clothes, at the general store. If you don’t want to waste your hard earned money, you can test the weapons out in the range. Just remember to return them before exiting, or you’ll face a stiff penalty. If you don’t get caught, however…
All in all, Westerado: Double Barreled is a wonderfully fun game, and has enough packed into it to keep you busy for hours. The fact that the killer is randomized every time will keep you coming back again and again to seek vengeance for your brother and mother. Combine this with the impressive soundtrack, the fast-paced combat, and the witty writing, and you’ve got a recipe for a great game.