After finding your brother and mother murdered and your farm burned to the ground, you set out to piece together the clues about who murdered your family. As you complete tasks for individuals, you are given small hints about their appearance. These can be whether or not they are wearing a wide brimmed hat, what color clothes they wear and other small hints. Eventually, you’ll get a full picture of what the murderer looks like. Then it becomes a game of Guess Who as you look through the towns to find the murderer in Westarado: Double Barreled.
Westarado is much more of a game about the journey rather than the destination. Each individual has unique challenges that they need help with. Buffalo farmers may be looking to get their herd across the desert or the army may be looking for you to help try to move natives out of the area. Though every time you play, these tasks can end differently.
One time, you may be tasked with rounding up a group of ranchers to storm the house of a rich oil tycoon. You can fail this mission, but that doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story. Failure and success often each have their own branches that can create new stories. While a single play through of Westarado may only take a couple of hours, the way the game randomizes itself makes it feel like there are an infinite number of branching stories for each playthrough.
While a large part of the game is comprised with adventure game puzzle solving, much of your troubles will be fixed with your gun, one way or another. Some individuals will ignore your requests during a conversation. However, at any point in the conversation, you can pull out your gun and threaten them. Some characters will fall for your bluff and do whatever you need, but with others, this can be a risky tactic. You can quickly find yourself in over your head and having a town full of angry individuals chasing you.
you also end up using your gun a lot, either to stop bandits or prevent wildlife from killing you. This process feels a bit needlessly complicated. You draw your weapon with the bumper, cock the trigger and fire with the right trigger and reload each bullet with your left trigger. The process feels like it was designed so you really had to work in order to kill enemies, but this is made much more complex by three things.
The first is that since the game is played from a top down perspective and you can only fire in two directions – left or right. You also need to make sure that you are aiming your shots perfectly. Being only a couple of pixels off can leave you open to counter fire. Second, sometimes it can be difficult to tell what is a part of the environment and what isn’t. This can lead to you getting stuck on rocks while you’re avoiding fire. Third is that you only get three shots before you are dead. You can regain health by collecting hats found on the ground, but to get those hats, you need to specifically shoot them off of enemies.
All of this is almost worth it, though, when you actually find the killer. After roaming the land, picking up hints and creating a full profile of the killer, you spot them in the crowd. You approach them and speak, pull out your gun and begin the final chapter of the game. This moment feels incredible, but is sadly brought down by the numerous shooting sections that follow. However, you also learn of exactly why the killer did what they did and that makes this moment even more interesting. You can find out that the people you were working for were the ones responsible for the killing, making you want to exact justice on them, all that much more. Sadly, though, the only way to do this is to start a new game with a new killer. It feels like there needs to be an extended ending where you get the people who put the killer up to this murder.
That said, there is a lot of replayability in Westarado. While the shooting can have issues, it is still a pretty high quality murder mystery game. The journey to finding the killer is satisfying and there’s nothing quite like unraveling that mystery. It’s a quick journey, though, and if you don’t have interest in replaying it, it will likely not be nearly as interesting to you.
SCORE: 8.0 out of 10
A code for Westarado: Double Barrelled was provided to Pixel Related for review.