If you enjoyed playing Westerado on Adult Swim, you’re certainly in for a treat with Westerado: Double Barreled. If you’ve never heard of Westerado but are open to trying an interactive, spaghetti western version of Guess Who, you may find yourself equally entertained. I fell into the latter category, going into this game blind, and came out wanting to play it again and again.
Developed by Ostrich Banditos and published by Adult Swim Games, Double Barreled packs a much greater punch than its flash-based web browser sibling. The map size about quadruples, giving a much larger area to explore. The towns are all super-sized as well, giving way to more desert residents, more side quests, and well, more everything!
So nice of your brother to offer a parting gift
Let’s back up real quick. Westerado: Double Barreled begins with tragedy. You come home from corralling a buffalo to find your ranch has been burned down, and your mother killed. With his dying breaths, your brother tasks you with finding their killer and avenging their deaths. He gives you a single lead, which is generally the size or type of hat the person was wearing. From there you must go out into the world and obtain more hints and clues as to the murderer’s appearance, and take him down.
One of the most fun parts of Westerado is the ability to accuse nearly anybody you come across. Hypothetically you could just wander around making wild accusations; the killer is out there somewhere, so you’re bound to stumble upon them eventually, right? Of course this is much too tedious and approximately zero fun, so you must talk to the locals and complete quests for them. Lots of them will have tips and clues to help you along, but only if you help them first.
Taking a page from games such as Fallout and Fable, you can choose to go about your search a couple of different ways. Nice guys can clear the graveyard of bandits so a girl can visit her father’s grave, return a drunkard to his doting wife, and round up the local ranch owners to band together against the evil oil baron. More devious folk might instead work for the oil baron and extort money from the ranchers, steal their livestock, and send bandits to seize a shipment of goods. Either way, you’ll be helping someone, and receiving clues in return.
These clues will narrow down your search, telling you things like whether the killer was man or woman, skinny or fat, wearing red pants or grey, or what size hat they wore. The more descriptions you obtain, the closer you are to finding your target. This is where the pixel graphics of the game shine brilliantly, as the combinations are endless, but easily recognizable. Even better, the killer changes with every playthrough.
At first it appeared the randomized murderer sprite was the biggest reason to replay the game, but by the time I finished and avenged my family, I realized there was still so much I hadn’t done. I never freed enough animals to get in with the Indians, I never explored the deeper depths of the caves, I never bought a house, and so much more. There are dozens upon dozens of side quests for you to partake in, and you will need to play the game multiple times and approach it from various angles if you want to experience everything Westerado has to offer.
You never know who’s going to have a helpful tip
Double Barreled is also just so immensely charming. From the pixel characters to the old-timey saloon music to the widescreen 35mm film borders that appear when talking to someone important, Westerado just begs you to play it. Sure, the main theme gets a bit old and tiresome after it repeats for the 20th time, but so long as you keep moving and exploring new areas you shouldn’t tire of the music for a while.
Oh, and can we talk about the fun pop culture references littering the game? The first town you encounter is a place called Clintville, founded by East Clintwood; an obvious nod to a man who helped shape western cinema as we know it. Then apparently the staff features a few Whovians, as statues that eerily resemble Weeping Angels are scattered throughout, one of them which features the phrase “Don’t Blink”. There’s also the weapons shop clerk who tells you “It’s dangerous to go alone!” There are more winks through the game, I’m sure including many I haven’t yet found. Keep an eye out for them!
This title isn’t perfect, however. If you’re used to modern games where you can move freely and aim in any direction, you might be taken aback. While you can move in any direction, the characters can only face left or right. Likewise, you can only fire left or right. After a few hours I finally got used to it and could confidently take on half a dozen bandits at once and come away the victor, but those first few hours were brutal. I nearly gave up due to how frustrated I became.
Those frustrations weren’t solely from needing pinpoint accuracy either; the keyboard controls felt more clunky than intuitive, often causing death after death because I only realized as I was going down that the button I kept pressing wasn’t ‘fire’ (K), but ‘pull gun’ (J). I suppose that could be chalked up to user error, as I’m still personally becoming better acquainted with PC games recently, but the entire time I felt like Westerado would be so much more well suited for consoles.
Another frequent cause of death and annoyance is friendly fire. While it can be extremely beneficial in a 1-on-10 fight to just run and dodge while bandits on opposite sides of you take each other out, it rather sucks when it’s turned around on you. Multiple quests require to to escort a caravan across the desert and kill any oncoming bandits before they can pilfer the load. It’s hard enough riding a horse and avoiding enemy fire while they steamroll on up without having to worry about your allies shooting you from behind because you’re both in line with the same foe.
Adding insult to injury, you lose half your cash with each death, so make sure you take advantage of the local bank and preserve those funds. It’s actually not easy to make money in Westerado, and in my entire first playthrough I could never afford to purchase a new gun or buy the local house for sale.
Whatever you do, don’t blink. Not even for a second
Another reason I died so much was thanks to the reload system. Your standard pistol holds six shots per clip, and you must hit ‘Reload’ (R) once per bullet you wish to reload; seems logical. The only problem is it’s a bit slow on the uptake. If you rapidly tap ‘R’ six times, it generally only registers three or four of those (meanwhile the browser title reloads lickity-split every time). But if you’re in the middle of a firefight, you won’t always notice the missing ammo until you’re no longer firing anything.
Basically, lots of things in the desert can kill you. Bandits, scorpions, coyotes, allies, a lack of ammo, poor aim, and more. Of course when I say it like that it just sounds like the last five paragraphs are me complaining about things I’m bad at, and not faults of the game itself. Okay, fair point. I accept that and stand by those complaints. Of course it should also be noted that the media build I played is not the final version, and Westerado’s final Steam release will have a bit more polish to it.
WESTERADO: DOUBLE BARRELED VERDICT
Westerado is a fun game for anyone, so long as they’ve got the patience to learn the controls and can take some time for target practice. The game can be beat in 4 hours running blind, or under 30 minutes if you know what you’re doing, making it easy to pick up for a lazy afternoon.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Tracking down your target and taking them out. The final chapter is a myriad of puzzles, and catching him or her feels great.
The multitude of side-quests gives high replay value.
Using hats as a life bar is unique and fun.
Fans of the original will love the expanded gameplay.
Friendly fire and slow reload speeds are the worst things ever.