Revenge is the quintessential Spaghetti Western theme. Sure, you can boil the genre down to even more diverse constituent parts, but all good Westerns have revenge at their core. It’s a theme that ties everything together and gives the leading protagonist a reason to go shootin’, killin’ and humpin’ on their journey to serve up justice. In Westerado: Double Barreled you’ll choose your side, be it with the native Americans, ranchers or the oil tycoon, become a hero or a villain, and pull your gun out in mid-conversation for no other damn reason than you felt like it.
This whole series of events is set into motion after your farm is burned to the ground and your family murdered in cold blood. Picking himself up, our protagonist makes his way to a nearby uncle’s home who kindly teaches him about guns, houses him for the night and tips him off about people in a nearby town who may know about the murders. As way of thanks I killed him stone dead – his ghost was not best pleased at all. Pulling your gun out on the right people, at the right time can lead you down unexpected alleys or, as in most cases, it can lead to a gunfight where the whole town joins in. But who you kill and who you help is up to you, nobody is off-limits for a good shooting.
The West is a tight-lipped place and nothing comes for free, so you’ll need to help other people if you expect them to help you. But finding your family’s killer isn’t a straightforward ‘A’ to ‘B’ affair. You are free to carve out whatever life you want, be it a paragon-like lifestyle where you only do good, or one which sees you join up with bandits to rob the townspeople of their riches. For every person you please you are bound to annoy many more, and you won’t be able to see everything in one playthrough for that reason. So, if you are helping out the local ranchers don’t expect to cosy up to the bandits or Native Americans later on down the trail.
There are hundreds of people all over Westerado’s massively detailed map to interact with. Whilst some storyline’s are more meaningful than others they are all entertaining and humorous in their own right.
Each task you complete builds trust between you and the people you are helping, and the information they supply you with assembles the identity of the man who wronged you – kind of like a police photofit. A deep tenseness was felt as each piece of the killer’s identity was unlocked, causing me to eye up potential wrongdoers as I passed them in town, and the accompanying itchy trigger finger was almost too difficult to ignore. New discoveries about your foe bring a cumulative sense of urgency that boils over in the game’s excellent finale.
No single element of Westerado: Double Barreled is particularly noteworthy on its own, but together they form an engrossing and funny game about exploration and shootin’ stuff. There’s a buttload of humour, a huge and diverse map to explore, some questionable stereotypes and lots of hatmaking…
John Wayne would be proud.