Craig wrote about Westerado back in January, but I like to think we live in a time where there is no past or future, only an eternal present. Also I first heard about it at the weekend and it’s swell.
Westerado is a western-set RPG in which your brother and mother are killed and you want to find who did it and avenge their deaths. Only, it’s an open world game, you don’t know where that person is, and they look different every time you start the game.
You discover that person by receiving hints about their appearance from people in the world. The first hint comes from your brother, just before he asks you to put him out of his misery, and in my case it meant that the killer wore a ten gallon hat. I received my next clue after losing all my money in a poker match, when I found out the killer wears dark pants. At any point you can look at the pause menu, where the hints you’ve received so far are communicated via a character with a cycling appearance. As the game goes on and you get more specific details about the killer, the appearance begins to change less and less, till you know enough about their appearance to go find them.
Which doesn’t mean you have to wait until you have all the information. In every conversation I had, I was able to immediately yell, “It was you!” You can also, during every single conversation, pull out your gun, cock it, and even as the person runs away, shoot them down. Yes, you’ll have just closed off some avenue of the game that might have led to an important hint, but that’s your fault and your choice to make.
That said, I do wish that the aiming mechanic was better. Holstering your weapon and cocking it before firing is satisfying, but aiming means aligning with people on a horizontal plane. If it weren’t an Adult Swim Flash game, I bet it would have mouse aiming, eight-directional movement, and feel all the better for it.
But that’s really my only complaint. I love the music, the art style, and these are ideas I’ve wanted people to try in an open-world game for a long time. FarCry 2, for example, has you looking for an arms dealer in an open world, but your path to finding that person is scripted. It always seemed like it would be fascinating to have the person you’re looking for just be out there, and for you to be able to find them at any moment. Maybe, possibly, it would mean you’d finish the game in five minutes, but maybe, probably, you’d be able to play the game multiple times and it would be different and surprising every time.
More of this please. Westerado came out in January, it’s free, browser-based and more people should play it.