Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Westerado

2:00 PM on 01.26.2013 // Fraser Brown

The Good, the Bad, and the Pixelated

When I was still wee, I often found myself stuck in my grandmother's house, far away from friends and video games and left with little to do other than draw or read. Once I filled every piece of paper in the house with doodles and had grown tired of reading the same comic or book for the umpteenth time, I'd start browsing my gran's large collection of videos recorded off the TV. Almost all of them were cowboy flicks.

They've long since blended into one huge Western experience: grizzled men riding across the expansive, open plains of the untamed Old West, seeking justice, fortune, and adventure. They gambled, duelled, and frequently became sheriffs of small towns bereft of hope. I wished I could be like them -- just with better hygiene.  

The last place I expected to relive these memories was on Adult Swim's website, but courtesty of indie developer Ostrich Banditos and their free flash game, Westerado, that's exactly what I've been doing. You should too, as it's one of the best Western games that you could hope to play.

Westerado (Mac, PC)
Developer: Ostrich Banditos 
Publisher: Adult Swim
Release: January 17, 2013

MSRP: Free 

My kin are dead, my mother is a mutilated corpse, and I put my brother out of his agonizing misery. Nothing will bring them back, but that doesn't mean I can't put the black-hearted son of a bitch who murdered them in a shallow grave. With vague directions, I ride to the nearest town, intent on discovering the identity of the bandit who destroyed my life.

Welcome to Westerado.

Justice has long since fled the town of Clintville. More than a few residents, including the local sheriff, know the identity of the man I hunt; while others know what he looks like, or at least what color of hat he wears, or that he has a fancy belt.

There's no such thing as free information, unfortunately, and I'll need to work to discover who I need to kill. This is a land of mercenaries, in both attitude and often career.  

I gamble, I spurn the advances of women -- I'm that dedicated to my mission -- and I demand aid when there is none to be found. I know I need to swallow my pride and put my six-shooter to work on less personal business than hunting down my quarry. I don't like it one bit.

The West changes a man. It chews him up, spits him out, and all that's left is a gun and a hat. I'm presently wearing my hat, and I'm pointing my gun at a crying rancher. He owes my employer money. I've come to collect it early. I won't leave until I have every last cent, and he's starting to realize this fact. As I cock my pistol, he finally breaks, giving me everything owed to my employer. Another job done. Another life ruined. 

My employer pays me in information. It's the final piece of the puzzle, the end of my investigation, and finally I'll be able to end the pathetic existence of the monster who left my ranch ablaze and my family dead. 

As I make my way through the bandit hideout, I put down 20, 30, maybe 40 cronies. They don't put up much of a fight. Then, in a cave lit up by a solitary camp fire, I finally lay eyes on my prey. I'd be lying if I told you it was about justice anymore -- this is vengeance, plain and simple.

Round and round the fire we go, taking pot shots at each other before quickly pulling back to reload. I shoot his hat off, he puts a hole through mine; one of my bullets goes whistling through the air and into a wall (one of his ends up embedded in a crate.) Then, at last, a shot to the gut. He goes down like a sack of potatoes, and my sorry tale comes to a close. 

My short tale of revenge merely represents one of the myriad stories that can play out in Westerado. The main story is always about a lone gun man seeking to end the life of the man who slaughtered his mother and brother, but how I went about reaching that climactic battle between good and evil was entirely up to me, the player.

This gorgeous pixelated facsimile of the Old West is ripe with opportunities for exploration, and everywhere I went, I found people looking for my help. Aiding folk is the only way to get ahead here, and my investigation would grind to a halt unless I was willing to get my hands dirty. There were wagons to protect, ranchers to aid, bandits to put in the ground, and even the occasional task that didn't require me to pull out my gun.

Of course, pulling out my pistol at the drop of a hat is all part of the fun. During any conversation I could draw my weapon, and the result was often hilarious. Though, sometimes it's a tad darker, as it was in the aforementioned debt collecting scenario.

Amid this classic story is no small amount of humor, laden with a lot of amusing pop culture references -- even Doctor Who's Tardis gets a mention. The juxtaposition of the hilarious with the gritty and grim makes Westerado a curious game, where drama and tension are just as likely as side-splitting silliness.

Glitches and freezes happen far too often, halting progress entirely. The game only saves map progress. When I had to restart, I ended up right back at the beginning. Westerado can be completed in all of 15 minutes, so it may not seem like a huge loss. However, the expansive world begs to be explored, and a freeze can mean that a good hour of progress goes up in a cloud of smoke.

Shooting can also be a finicky experience, requiring quite a bit of trial and error. Positioning myself in just the right spot to actually shoot someone was occasionally frustrating in the beginning, as there's no way to really tell if I had my foe in my sights. The permadeath system gives weight to these conflicts, but the poor shooting almost ruins them. The lack of any real enemy AI can be exploited, so it doesn't pose too much of a challenge. Bad AI shouldn't be a feature.

Yet, the times when it's not falling apart at the seams are wonderful. The open world let me choose how to make my way through it, and the occasional moral quandary inspires multiple approaches to many of the title's scenarios. There's a depth here that surprised me a great deal, but for those just looking for 15 minutes of gun-toting, horse riding shenanigans, it caters to you all the same.

Accompanying me on my adventures as a lone gun man was a memorable soundtrack that conjures up images of rolling tumbleweed, lined-up coffins, and tough men in ponchos. It is both catchy and stirring, and I've already started to miss it now that I've stopped listening. The music runs the gamut from up-beat tunes that spurred me to action, to more wistful, lonesome tones of the sort I might hear in my head as I eat some beans and remember the good old days before the ranch got burned down. 

The soundtrack goes perfectly with the detailed, sun-soaked pixel art visuals that tap into one's nostalgia, while also creating a surprisingly authentic western look. Westerado's a very animated game, never staying still for a moment. The protagonist's poncho constantly waves away, chickens never stop pecking at invisible seeds, and dried out weeds endlessly dance in the ceaseless wind.

Even if you are put off by the plethora of bugs, it's free and accessible at the click of a button. You'd be doing yourself a disservice by not checking it out at least once. No doubt you'll find yourself checking it out again and again, as I have been. Drape that knackered old poncho over your shoulders, roll up that cigarette, and strap on a rusty six-shooter -- it's time to hunt down a real bastard. 



Westerado - Reviewed by Fraser Brown
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Fraser Brown, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure FraserIBrown Tips
Fraser Brown is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming who is not Alasdair Duncan. Got a splinter stuck in his hand nineteen years ago and just left it in there. True story. ... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Backward Compatibility Is More Important Than Ever (Maybe)

It's beginning to look a lot like censorship.

Solar Pony Django's Review on: Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival

Indivisible exposes why forced diversity and its proponents keep failing

Steam Controller Review

RAE - Back in Town

Thankful it's ov

Half - Life 3 FINALLY 100% confirmed...maybe.

Surprisingly... I'm *really* enjoying Fallout 4!!

Where the Hell is Breath of Fire?

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

voex avatarvoex
*Sigh* time to figure out how much a Fallout 4 capable PC upgrade is gonna cost me...
ooktar avatarooktar
Ordered this on Thanksgiving and surprisingly got here today. The case is amazing and Now I got all the Persona Cards. [img][/img] [img][/
Jiraya avatarJiraya
You probably already saw this - but it is gold - Fallout 4 One Punch Man Mod [youtube][/youtube]
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
I just got my new Mega64 Blu-Ray! But now I have a problem... Do I watch that or keep watching Claymore...
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Hey, my new blog is up! A few days ago! Go read it! Before......before its too late. Please. *walls start crumbling, reality starts oozing out, things begin to eeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Alright so I'm looking for a few games for my newly repurchased DS. I'm already set on RPG as it's all I have pretty much. Were there any good puzzle games? I've heard good things about Professor Layton.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
I made chocolate and banana cake because why not.
able to think avatarable to think
After hearing Persona 4 Dancing All Night come out of my surround sound system; I can safely say my $20 Playstation TV purchase was totally justified. The bass on Best Friends (Banvox Remox) literally shook the floor. It's freaking awesome!
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
I wish I could say I made this 'shop. [img][/img]
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow. Triple brown, triple brown, triple brown meow.
Alfie avatarAlfie
Was on the front page and was greeted by a new post, which I clicked to find "You cannot see the future". Then refreshed and it was gone. I saw Chris's post on Eight Days' cancellation as it was brought, new and unready, into the world! Rare and wonderful
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: Have you ever purchased a game only to regret it later and then sell it/give it away, only to even later regret selling it and wind up purchasing it again?
gajknight avatargajknight
A decadent staircase adorned in gold rises into infinite darkness. Writhing beings beyond comprehension lurk in the shadows, their mere presence encroaching on the edges of human understanding. A blood moon glows . I am losing my mind. I need more eyes...
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
We need to be implanted with microchips because I'd really like to know how much time I've spent playing different video games my entire life.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If there are rainbows in Xenoblade Chronicles X, Reyn must be in it as well. You can't have a rainbow without Reyn, baby!
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I really hope Xenoblade become it's own franchise, it has way too much potential to simply being reduced to 2 games.
Sotanaht avatarSotanaht
Touchable Holograms? When this eventually matures and hits market, almost all our regulars will vanish for weeks.
Serethyn avatarSerethyn
Xenoblade Chronicles Wii for €10? Sure, Nintendo, don't mind if I do!
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Super Smash Bros. 4 has too much content. So much so I almost don't want a sequel. I honestly hope that NX gets a "Super Smash Bros. For NX" port rather than a new installment. It could be a GOTY edition and come with all of the DLC.
Batthink avatarBatthink
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -