General

Games For Real Cowboys

You can still enjoy the sight of a guy using balloons to drop things on bandits below. It still feels like a bizarre genre mish-mash – Westerns are about heat, tempers and who shot first, all of which are horrible attributes when trying to play as tactfully as possible. I’m not the stealthiest player, so I just enjoy the roleplay: not trying to cause trouble, helping my buddies and occasionally dying in blazing gunfire that make the events of the O.K. Corral look like a minor class dispute. Believe it or, that’s still a recommendation. The amazing thing about Westerado is that despite its pixel style it has some of the best gun combat on this list. Your pistol here is a hindrance – every bullet needs a key press to load, and every shot has to be manually cocked before you squeeze the trigger. It turns gunfights into a panicked rush as you dash between incoming fire loading your weapon and then have to hold your nerve as you try to line your cocked gun up with the many bandits on screen. Gunfights feel messy and disorganised, which is exactly how a western fight should feel.

It helps that around these brilliant lead-slingers there’s a ingenious murder mystery, as you track the gunman who murdered your family. Helping locals with their chores earns you clues, gradually filling in a physical description so you can hunt him down and put a bullet between his eyes. Working out the size and colour of his clothes is a bit like Guess Who, only Guess Who doesn’t end with public execution. Well, not in the rules I play. I love the idea that anyone around you could be the perp, and the fact that you can accuse random people or pull a gun on them in conversation to try and make them see things your way. Often this spirals out in further chaos – whole towns trying to murder you, or the death of key quest characters – but the story shapes itself around you and carries on. I’ve helped a post man protect his carriage from bandits who want to steal his hats, I’ve accidentally murdered people in a mock quickdraw contest and I pretended to know the rules of poker. Westerado has it all.

You can’t talk about the wild west without some good ole fashioned treasure hunting? Ahh, the exciting allure of the gold rush, and the sad reality of shaking one of those frying pans into a river for 18 hours a day. Steamworld Dig 2 is not strictly about gold… and is certainly not set in California. It’s a bit more steampunk than traditional Western: the forty-niner you’re playing is a robot and one that isn’t Yul Brynner or scary Rachel Evans Wood. Earthquakes have been rocking an old trading post above El Machino Mine and it’s up to you to figure out the whys and wherefores. So, this platforming action game heads underground, pickaxe and grappling hook in hand.