Well howdy partners, ah ya’ll lookin’ for a stylised retro western shooter? Then does Adult Swim Games have a game for you my cowboy friends! Westerado: Double-Barreled is the latest game to offer a unique spin on the western setting, one that Adult Swim Games hopes will succeed in keeping our attention and carving out its own existence, and not just unintentionally act as some form of prelude to Red Dead Redemption 2 – albeit on a different scale.
As soon as you drop into Westerado: Double-Barreled you’ll be immediately struck by its outstanding art style. For a moment you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re booting up a game for the Atari 2600 with its retro feel. What this game is, at its core, is an open world (albeit small) pixelated shooter, where you, as the nameless main character, start off living on a small farm going about your business. When your brother needs help herding the family livestock of buffalo, one escapes and you’re tasked with retrieving it. On your return, your family farm and anyone living within have been set ablaze. Angry and confused, your nameless hero rides to his uncle’s house where you’re told to get some rest and head into town to grill the town-folk for clues to who this mystery arsonist could be.
It’s a simple set up, sure, but it works. You’re interested in your character’s endeavour and it gives you a reason to go hunting this person down. However, the gameplay in Westerado: Double-Barreled is a little more in depth and complicated; here you do all of the widely known western tropes.
You’ll need to talk to people such as saloon bartenders for information about the movers and shakers in the town, the local sheriff who points you towards wanted posters to help you earn a little extra cash, or an oil tycoon who isn’t quite as nice as he should be. What’s quite endearing here is that there are a lot of classic western references around town, and in what the town folk have to say to you. I’m talking about things such as the founder of the town being called East Clintwood, or a graveyard reference towards The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It’s a nice little touch for those that are aware of them.
Then there’s the shooting, which is the staple of any real western orientated game. When talking to these people, a lot of them will have need of someone good with a gun; whether it be clearing out an old mine full of bandits, or a woman wanting your help with finding her missing husband, with each rewarding you with money. But with that comes one of my main issue with Westerado, and that is there might be a little too much shooting going on in your quests. Now, I know that in the old west a lot of stand offs and shooting took place, but a little bit of variety in what you are doing would have helped a bit.
So how do you shoot? Well again, just like the guns in the old west, it’s very methodical. You don’t just go through the motion of aiming your gun and shooting, you’ve also got the added process of cocking your gun before you shoot, meaning it takes longer therefore giving your opponent time to shoot. You do this by first aiming with the left trigger and then cocking your gun with the right bumper before you shoot with the right trigger. It works quite well as it leads to quite tense and exciting gun bouts, however you only have the ability to shoot horizontally leaving you in situations where you’re mashing the shoot button while lined up to your enemy and trying to quick dodge their bullets. Now, that’s all fine when there are only a couple of bandits on screen, but when you’re up against multiple foes it can be a little annoying because it feels like some hits are just unavoidable and unnecessary.
Health here is represented by hats. You can have a maximum of three hats all at one time – get shot and you drop a hat – but this is where cash comes in; you can visit certain shops to buy regular or bigger hats. Apart from the miners hat which gives you the ability to search the mines, I saw no real difference in what the hats do in terms of whether bigger hats give more health.
Throughout your journey in finding out the mystery killer who took your family, you’ll receive little clues in exchange for favours. These clues consist of what kind of hat the killer might be wearing or the colour of his boots. What’s cool here is that at any point you can draw your weapon and accuse anyone, leading to situations where people have to justify whether they want to continue to talk to you, leading to quests themselves either being opened up or locked.
Once you’ve completed certain quests, playable characters will be permanently unlocked, giving you the option to replay the game as a different character with different weapons. These include an Indian chief who has the ability to throw tomahawks at his enemies, or a woman who can dual wield two pistols, giving double the fire power. It’s a neat option that spruces things up a bit, giving the game some replayability.
Finally, an even cooler addition to the game that you won’t see very often is the option to play the game cooperatively. Yes, that’s right, Westerado: Double-Barreled supports two player local couch multiplayer. It’s fun and can either make the game easier or more difficult considering the skill level of the other player; that and the fact that there’s friendly fire! However, any game that contains local coop is a welcome addition, especially in a game as cool as this one.
When it comes down to it Westerado: Double-Barreled is a unique game. Its pixelated art style separates it from the crowd with great effect. The writing and sense of humour is executed well, as well as the overall story and motivations. It’s a simple but effective game that gives the player what they want – to be a badass cowboy, and even though it can feel a little one note at times, I can definitely recommend this old western adventure as something that everyone should play.