The West Is Fun In Westerado

By Craig Pearson on January 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am.


Adult Swim’s Western RPG flash game Westerado has been playing in a background tab of Chrome for about an hour now. I’ve been listening to the music and imagining stars overhead, the pop and crackle of a campfire, and wondering if there really is a life to be had away from my desk? I could be a cowboy. I have a whip, and I could be out wandering the range, living a life of simple, horsey pleasures. The star of the game doesn’t quite have that luxury: he’s hunting for the killer of his aunt and brother, running from town-to-town and tracking down clues. It’s surprisingly good.

I only clicked it out of curiosity, and then lost half-an-hour. It’s a cute, perfectly pixelly RPG where you wander from town to settlement, looking for clues to find the killer. Starting off on buffalo farm where you end up having to put your brother down, you wander all over the West, landing in settlements and questioning the population about the murders. The best bit is the dialogue tree. There’s plenty of variety in the responses, and you can accuse anyone you find of being the killer. There’s no consequence to that, it’s just funny to do.

It shifts from a slow, silly RPG to a fun little action game by your actions. All you need to do is fire your gun. One town has a saloon with a show and card games. I pulled a gun because I was getting tired of the explanation of a poker game that went on and on and on (role-playing a half-mad grieving brother, of course) and the man in the conversation window panicked and fled. Then the dancing girls jumped off stage and pulled rifles out. I did not expect that. They were pretty deadly with them as well, killing me and forcing a restart. If there’s a problem with the game it’s that there’s no consequences following those moments of carnage. As far as I could tell, pulling a gun, cocking it and firing causes some immediate panic that eventually dies down. Oh, your life is counted in hats, so you need to visit the haberdasher to buy more.

I didn’t expect it to be this involving. It keeps going on and on, each place I visited had some unique twist to the locale, and even though the game offers fast travel on horses, I realised it was possible to just wander around between towns, meeting bandits on the trail and hunting them for their cash. As it stands, I’m still on the trail for clues. I’ll find the varmint.

It’s good. Try it. If nothing else, you can just leave the game on in a tab and let the music play.

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55 Comments »

  1. The Random One says:

    “your life is counted in hats, so you need to visit the haberdasher to buy more”

    Eat your hat heart out, Team Fortress 2.

    • Cuddlefish says:

      It’s interesting how there is no mention of how blatant they are that the hats are not in fact hats.

  2. f1x says:

    This just made me think… wild west RPGs, why dont we have more of those? or do we have any actually, besides this one?

    • Isair says:

      Arcanum, sort of?

    • mondomau says:

      Well there’s Red Dead Redem- oh, wait. We never got that one.

    • f1x says:

      Arcanum is sort of more post-apocalyptic, but I have not played it and I think its about time I do

      Red Dead Redemption… :(, the only reason why I have an xbox, the game is a damn masterpiece

      • Berzee says:

        Arcanum post-apocalyptic?…well, maybe you could argue that the sometimes-bleakness feels that way, but aside from some few very specific kingdoms in the game, it’s set in a world with some very established civilizations, that’s had a lot of time to grow, and with no worldwide apocalypses to speak of.

        Unless I’m forgetting something obvious. =P

        I wouldn’t call it very wild-western either, aside from a few characters and villages that exude a sort of cowboyish nature. (Though I do recall now that the first town in the game is one of the most pronounced in the manner, even to the point of including THE OLD MINE and the TOUGH-AS-NAILS DOC WITH RIFLE, so maybe that’s a good point after all).

        As for straight up cowboy RPGs…yeah, I can’t think of any either. More’s the pity :(

        • f1x says:

          I said post-apocalyptic in a random way because I have not played it, and the screenshots looked like that

          but I will play it! because it looked damn interesting

          But yes, back to the question, there is a serious lack of, lets say, spaghetti western rpgs, which is a shame!

          • Berzee says:

            You should definitely play it! The combat is rather shonky but it’s worth it to push through until things get easier. (I haven’t actually beaten it as a fighter yet…I played a sort of diplomatic gnome, which lets you have lots of followers to do the dirty work for you). The exploring, dialogue, decisions, character building, inventory, crafting, quests, music, etc. are all great enough to make up for the combat system. =) (As is the run-down “we have classical music but we all feel kind of sad” atmosphere that you noticed).

            *runs off to make an additional reply about cowboys elsewhere in the thread*

          • mr.black says:

            Agree. You should give it a try! One of the best isometric things that happened since Fallout 2. Speaking of, iirc, many a dev from Black isle ended in Troika games, which made Arcanum, so no wonder it looks kinda like one of the most famous PA settings out there. Actually it isn’t PA, but pretty great blend of medieval vs. classical fantasy imaginary, coated in steampunk aesthetic.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Well, Arcanum simply doesn’t have anything to do with the Wild West (though I understand what you meant) and Red Dead Redemption isn’t an RPG.

      Simply put, no. We have no CRPGs set in the Wild West. This should be remedied.

    • Sic says:

      It’s pretty strange, really.

      Pirates and cowboys, once The popular culture, now resurrected, has almost no good representatives in the gaming world.

      A couple of days ago, one of the most upvoted comments on Reddit was a guy asking why nobody has made a pirate RPG akin to RDR.

    • CannedLizard says:

      There’s a mod for Mount & Blade called 1866 that I’ve been playing for the last week or so. It’s not great, but it scratched a little of that itch for me. Here’s a video of it (with AC/DC for some random reason….)

    • LeeTheAgent says:

      Oregon Trail. Eat your heart out, Squeenix/Rockstar!

    • Berzee says:

      There’s a card game called Bang! which is a Wild West card game for a goodly number of players, which is sort of a mixture of that social deception-and-icebreaking game “Mafia” combined with cowboys and RPG elements (lots of possible characters with special roles and abilities, consumable and equippable inventory items, health points).

      I wouldn’t necessarily want to play a computer version of that since it’s a game about staring into people’s souls to find out if they’re only *pretending* to be a fellow outlaw…but I would like to play a game that approaches the Wild West as a similar treasure trove of unique loot and varied character builds.

      That reminds me, there does exist a cowboy tower defense game, though I do not claim it is good, only that it exists. =P http://www.kongregate.com/games/meetreen_games/long-way

    • The Greatness says:

      Fallout is the closest I’ve played.

  3. tobecooper says:

    It’s the Wild West, I’m not surprised people don’t panic too much when they see someone with his gun pulled out, cocking it and firing randomly. It’s business as usual.

    (It was difficult to resist a mischievous/juvenile burning desire to shuffle the words in that sentence. But a cock is sometimes just a cock.)

    • f1x says:

      Yeah but nowadays people penis when they see a panic

    • Rhuhuhuhu says:

      Roostering a Gun doesn’t make such sense does it?
      The Wild West is still not wild enough to resist a pun thread I take it… So I take my hat off for RPS not falling for conformities of those people that think ‘cock’ is an evil word.

      • tobecooper says:

        I’m playing the game right now and there are actually a lot of legitimate cocks in there, so I feel I wasn’t pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

        • jrodman says:

          Sure, but in context it did come off that way. Peter must pay the piper, after all.

  4. Oozo says:

    Don’t have time to check out the game itself right now, but I followed your example — the music is playing in an endless loop in the background. Very nice.

    Which begs the (somewhat unrelated) question: Has anybody any recommendations on instrumental Americana/alt-country albums that are worth checking out?

    (And yeah, I’m serious.)

    • f1x says:

      You could try:
      California Guitar trio – They are not strictly country but you might like them, they are quite technical
      Bela Fleck with either of his bands, Bela & The Flecktones or New Grass Revival

      Then, Chet Atkins is not only instrumental but.., or could try Ry Cooder which is more blues tho

      Now, if you want instrumental country/americana bands from last couple of years, I dont recall any, there surely are and someone with a better knowledge can name some
      if you would like something non-instrumental there is an awesome group of “recent” bands from the called (not that I like labels tho) “new american folk”, such as William Elliott Whitmore, Justin Townes Earle or Old crow medicine show

      • Oozo says:

        Doesn’t have to be too recent, so I greatly appreciate the list! Thanks!

        (And nah, it doesn’t have to be exclusively instrumental either, I just like to listen to it while doing work, which is easier when there are no lyrics to distract me.)

      • jrodman says:

        Does Calexico count or are they too modern? (I <3 Calexico.)

        • Oozo says:

          Nobody ever said that “modern” doesn’t count ;)

          But yeah, I know and love Calexico. (And some of the other Americana/alt-country heroes from the 90s, like Uncle Tupelo and the bands that sprung from it, the Jayhaws, the Old 97′s, Flying Burrito Bros., Virgil Shaw etc.)

          Just didn’t know their precedessors all that well, and neither am I up to date to what has happened lately. But f1x’s recommendations up there seem to be great.

          So thanks everyone…

    • The Random One says:

      Not exactly what you’re asking, (and a testimony to how I’m so geeky I stand out in a video games site), but the theme from the Wild West level in Time Splitters 2 is pretty much my favorite video game soundtrack in the known universe.

      • Oozo says:

        Didn’t know that one, but I like it! Reminds me somehow of the soundtrack to “The Good, The Band & The Weird”, which has a similar vibe somewhere between Morricone scale-epic and kinda silly. (With a bit of Nina Simone thrown in.)

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD2a1mbq-cA

        And this somehow leads me to another great Western-inspired piece of game OST, God Hand’s “Sunset Heroes”.

        (… even though I’m not sure why. Listening to it again, it doesn’t actually sound all that similar. And even less like what I originally asked for. But it’s all good and clean fun, so I’ll just leave it here.)

      • Baines says:

        I prefer the intro to Wild Arms, for the PS1. It isn’t as in your face as Timesplitters Wild West theme. It helps that I really liked Wild Arms, and it did have an animation to go with the intro.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrDV6VksSRU

        And, because it is a good song, a link to the TimeSplitters 2 Wild West theme:

    • Hodge says:

      Lambchop’s Will Tyler just released a solo album of guitar instrumentals which might fit your bill (or might not; I haven’t heard all of it yet).

      The first couple of Calexico albums (Black Light and Hot Rail) both had some great instrumental stuff, although that’s more americana-meets-mariarchi. Also worth looking at their old side project the Friends Of Dean Martinez.

      Brian Tyler’s score from Bubba Ho-Tep is worth checking out too.

    • dreadguacamole says:

      Not instrumental, but Ben Nichols (singer of Lucero) has a lovely concept album based on Blood Meridian called last pale light in the west. It’s really good. I’m also extremely partial to Richard Buckner; Meadow is a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned.
      Finally, there’s an Australian band called the Dirty Three that manage really lovely ambiances with a guitar, drums and a violin. Not really country & western, but they’re kind of in the same region. I’d recommend either Whatever you Love, You are or Horse Stories

    • John Brindle says:

      Try the single-album Canadian supergroup ‘Valley of the Giants’! Although the second-last track is some Swedish guy rambling about one time when a whale was hunting a penguin…

  5. yabonn says:

    Wasd, on an azerty keyboard -> no play. Too bad, happens a lot with browser games.

  6. Olderman says:

    WASD = Europeans not welcome :(

    Oh well, nice music!

    • f1x says:

      Thought it was mostly France and Belgium who used azerty

      • Olderman says:

        I actually have no idea. Having a French keyboard, I won’t object. But I will use this opportunity to point out that IJKL works for everyone. May it resound and change the world of gaming forever.

        • jrodman says:

          We just need a way to programmatically acquire keycodes by position as well as symbol.

          (I’m sure that will work out well.)

          Don’t self-respecting central european gamers with azerties and qewrtzies have some sort of magic gamer keyboard where they flip a toggle to deal with the stupidities of game developer assumptions?

          I suppose not at work though. Which is what flash games are for.

          • Olderman says:

            During lunch breaks, naturally! And all those work PCs with azerties and disabled sound cards. Big fail.

        • f1x says:

          Yeap, my question was more out of curiosity, I was a bit ignorant about the existence of azerty and qwertz keyboards
          So, everybody should be able to play no matter what sort of keyboard they have, as you said shouldnt be that hard to implement

          But anyway, you can still play WASD games on an Azerty keyboard, its just like playing the game and Twister at the same time! double the fun!

    • roryok says:

      WASD = Europeans not welcome :(

      AHEM. France != Europe

      QWERTY or QWERTZ is used in Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom, Portugal. Spain, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and Iceland

      AZERTY is used in France and Belgium

      • Olderman says:

        As stated above I did not know this and apologize to any who might have seen in my comment any claim that Europe be a province of France.

        • f1x says:

          You don’t need to apologize, just send me some croissants and we can be friends again

          vive le cliche!

          • Olderman says:

            Le cliché vit! :)

            I had one this morning actually. Really some cliches are just right. Also I might consider punctuating with smileys more often. I can’t help but wonder if my awkward attempts at humor aren’t actually seen as offensive without them. Lurker insecurity I guess.

    • Veeskers says:

      Try pressing shift + alt to switch to a qwerty keyboard input. Just don’t press it accidentally at a different time, or it can get pretty irritating!

      • Olderman says:

        Brilliqnt/ Gottq leqrn thqt co;pendiu; of Zindozs kb shortcuts/

        Yeah, irritating at times but very useful to know thanks!

  7. funzportz says:

    This needs a digital joystick. One of the old microswitch ones.

  8. Adriaan says:

    Awesome game indeed! I talked a bit with some of the people who made this as a student project at their uni in the Netherlands and got themselves a contract with Adult Swim to publish it. Really cool. :)

  9. CannedLizard says:

    “There’s plenty of variety in the responses, and you can accuse anyone you find of being the killer. There’s no consequence to that, it’s just funny to do. ”

    My name is Inigo Montoya….

  10. plugmonkey says:

    I just tried to extort a little too much money from a rancher at gunpoint.

    As a result, I had to shoot him. And his wife.

    I’m already worse than the man I’m trying to catch. This game is great.

    • Stuart Walton says:

      Sheriff wasn’t offering the help I wanted, BLAM!
      Someone tells me man I’m looking for wears a brown hat.
      See a man wearing a brown hat, BLAM!
      Someone takes affront to my actions and pulls a gun, BLAM!
      His hat flies off, need to aim better, BLAM!
      Someone points out that the Oil Tycoon is profiting while the ranching declines, I go speak to him.
      He was none too polite, BLAM!
      His goons don’t like what I did, BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM
      BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM
      BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM
      BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM
      I buy me some new hats
      See another man in a brown hat BLAM!

      • Olderman says:

        This plus the article on CDC research relating to games and violence. They’ve got it all wrong. Lunatics vent in video games and are therefore less likely to cross the threshold in real life, I say.

        Keep on playing, good sir. :)

  11. Berzee says:

    Man, anyone remember the game High Noon for the Commodore 64?
    I played that game one time. I think it was probably awesome, but all I really remember is that the music was the best thing.

  12. Engonge says:

    Not suprisingly it is more immersive than Read Dead Redemption.