Whilst the wild west may not be as popular of a setting as Medieval Europe or the post-apocalypse when it comes to games, there are still some very underrated wild west games out there.
Here’s a conversation I have had multiple times.
Me: Hey friend, what are some of your favourite wild west games?
Friend: Oh, I love the Red Dead Redemption games!
Me: Haha, me too! What others?
Friend: …there are others?
YES THERE ARE! Whilst the wild west may not be as popular of a setting as Medieval Europe or the post-apocalypse when it comes to games, there are still some very underrated wild west games out there! In fact, these games are much more varied in genre than you would think. It ain’t all gunfights, showdowns, and yee’s and/or haw’s.
There are quite a few wild west games that get very creative with the genre! I mean don’t get me wrong, I also love the ones that just focus on blowing bandits hats off. (usually with their heads as well). But the point is, the wild west genre has far more to offer than just John Marston, Arthur Morgan, and whoever the fuck was the protagonist of Red Dead Revolver. So here’s some of my personal favorite wild west games, that deserve much more love!
10 Westerado: Double Barreled
|Initial Release Date||April 16, 2015|
|Platform||Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh operating systems|
|Publisher||Adult Swim Games|
Now, at first glance Westerado: Double Barreled may look like a RDR clone that was made with paper cutouts and crayons, but that’s not the case at all. This is what you might consider, a “Mini Red Dead” but with more of a tongue in cheek style, and one of the most interesting main mechanics I’ve ever seen.
You play as your standard hat-tipping, spit-shining, brain-exploding cowpoke, who’s trying to find the man who killed his family. The only problem is, you have no idea what he looks like. I mean, I’d wager he’s probably a white guy with a hat, suspenders, and a big shiny belt buckle, but that covers about 90% of the population in this game. So you have to slowly piece together what he looks like, by going to towns, asking people, and completing quests.
…OR you could just kill everyone you see and win via process of elimination. I absolutely love this mechanic, it gives the player a clear goal, and a good sense of progression as you slowly uncover your nemesis! And the game itself is filled with enough charm, wit, and fun to make finding your faceless enemy an absolute blast.
…seriously, he doesn’t have a face. No one in this game has a face. It’s weird.
9 West of Loathing
|Initial Release Date||August 10, 2017|
|Platform||PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360|
Well, if you thought Westerado looked “low key” then you may not be crazy about this… West of Loathing is a wild west themed turn-based RPG, that looks like it was drawn by a bored kid scribbling in his history class. (and that’s NOT a bad thing). Funnily enough, these first two games on my list have a lot in common. They’re both basic looking cowboy-em-up’s, with simple yet fun gameplay, and great comedic writing. Although, whilst Westerado’s style is “tongue in cheek” West of Loathing’s style is more “TUNG IN CHEEYK, YEE-HAW, GET ER DUN, a-HYUCK!” etc, etc…
Seriously though, West of Loathing is a VERY funny game. It’s exactly the right kind of parody game. You don’t need to know what’s being made fun of to get the joke, it never focuses on one topic for too long, and it can crack jokes about everything from ghost horses to sinister clowns whilst still feeling coherent. It’s also got a surprising amount of content for a game that looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint. It’s quite long for a cheap indie game, and it’s absolutely packed to the brim with gags. Although, I’d expect nothing less from a game that uses meat as a currency, and has a playable class called “Cow Puncher”.
8 Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
|Initial Release Date||May 14, 2013|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Nintendo Switch|
Ahh, Call of Juarez. The series that’s unfortunately been the “Oasis” to Red Dead Redemption’s “The Beatles” for all these years. Still good, just not as popular. But that hasn’t stopped this series from putting out some incredibly fun games. And the best one for my money is Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, or “The one where they realized their fans just want to shoot dudes”
It’s one of the most satisfying shooters I’ve ever played! The thunderous shot of the rifle, combined with the over the top blood spurts from the bad guys, all tied together with its wonderful comic visual style. It’s the gameplay equivalent of popping some giant bubble-wrap, cracking open a beer, and sinking into a hot tub, all at once. IT. FEELS. GREAT. Plus, the running commentary from the main character Silas Greaves is witty enough to keep you interested, and it never interrupts your bloody, gory, manslaughter-y rampage! (All in the name of justice, of course). This game is pure rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ from start to finish. In fact, it’s so good that it almost makes up for Call of Juarez: The Cartel. You know, the “Wild West” game that they set in modern times for some reason, that literally nobody liked? …yeah, we don’t talk about that one.
7 Gunman Clive HD Collection
|Initial Release Date||April 2, 2012|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch|
Speaking of underrated wild west games, this next one is pretty weird. Have you ever played MegaMan and thought to yourself “Wow, this is great, but it would be so much better if was completely BEIGE!” No?
Oh, well that’s a shame, because that’s basically what Gunman Clive is. Not that that’s a bad thing! Despite their simple look and feel the Gunman Clive games are old-school platforming perfection! They’re both full of interesting boss fights, stimulating platforming challenges, and the second one even has MORE colors that beige and light blue! They’re two pretty short and simple games, but considering their indie nature, and the fact that you can get both of them for the price of a pencil sharpener, I think they’re really impressive. Plus, they really stepped things up in the second one. I found the boss fights to be especially impressive, and… well, to be frank, if a cowboy riding a dinosaur doesn’t put a smile on your face, then you and I simply have nothing in common. These games are both masters of recapturing the NES platforming magic we all love so much, whilst injecting enough new ideas to make it feel like a modern game. That’s a little dance I like to call, “The Shovel Knight Shuffle”
6 Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD
|Initial Release Date||January 25, 2005|
|Platform||Xbox, Windows, PlayStation 3, OnLive, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android, Ouya, Mac App Store, Nintendo Switch|
When you think of “Oddworld” I would imagine your mind instantly goes to little factory workers called Abe, weird psychic chanting, and plenty of magnificent farts. But among this series of quaint puzzle-platformers, lies one of the most unique Wild West games ever made. May I present, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, the game where you can shoot fucking SPIDERS at people… god, just killing them would be kinder.
It’s an action-adventure game with a mix of third-person platforming, and first-person shooting. Thing is, the main character stranger doesn’t have a pistol or a rifle because he “never liked guns…” (which might just make him the only cowboy in the world who feels that way). So instead, he has a hand crossbow and uses small animals for ammunition…which is pretty screwed up when you think about it.
But this is actually a really cool mechanic! The creatures act as different types of bombs and ammo, and they all feel very unique and fun to use. I mean let’s be real, shooting skunks at bad guys and watching them puke up their lunch whilst you suck them into your Luigi’s Mansion vacuum, is NEVER not funny. This, combined with the game’s signature Oddworld weirdness and charm, makes for an amusing game that’s truly one of a kind. Just don’t show it to PETA. They’d go absolutely berserk…
5 Hard West
|Initial Release Date||November 18, 2015|
|Platform||Xbox, Windows, PlayStation 3, OnLive, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android, Ouya, Mac App Store, Nintendo Switch|
|Developer||Creative Forge Games|
|Publisher||Good Shepherd Entertainment|
So far the games on my list have been pretty lighthearted and pleasant affairs. I mean yeah, some of them contain frankly ridiculous amounts of blood, violence, and the occasional butchering of the english language. But it’s mostly been more Blazing Saddles than A Fistful of Dollars. However, that changes with Hard West. A dark and bleak game, that’s so gritty you could make a beach out of it.
Now, the quickest way to describe Hard West would be to call it “Xcom with cowboys”. It’s got the same mix of character management and game-altering choices, combined with the turn-based gunfights that make you feel like a genius for outsmarting a bunch of 1’s and 0’s. But Hard West has more than enough style and personality to give it its own identity. It might be an identity that it borrowed from every gritty Western movie ever, but it’s an identity nonetheless.
I’m personally a big fan of all the different character abilities you can unlock. It makes the fights feel a lot more varied and interesting, even though there’s usually nothing better than just capping a guy in his already toothless mouth. Hard West isn’t perfect, and it can feel a bit janky at times, but it’s a damn good game for the price. As long as you don’t mind some braindead mining, that’s anything but “Hard”.
4 Hunt Showdown
|Initial Release Date||February 22, 2018|
|Platform||Microsoft Windows, Xbox One|
Damn. I don’t think I’ve ever played such a gloomy and grimy game, that still makes you play as “good ol’ fashion country boys!” I mean there were bits when Hard West felt more weird than dark, but THIS shit is just pure grit 24/7. It’s an online bounty hunting game where pretty much everything you see wants to kill you. The monsters, the other players, hell even your teammates if you’re an asshole who takes all the good loot! It’s an INCREDIBLY hostile game, and I really like that.
Hunt Showdown doesn’t want you to feel safe. Hunt Showdown wants you to feel like you just heard a crash at 4 AM, you’re terrified and half hungover, and you desperately need a shit. And that’s great! Taking out the wonderfully disgusting monsters whilst trying to stay quiet so you don’t alert the nearby players AND trying to track your prey, all at once….is a lot to think about. It keeps you on edge throughout the entire experience, even when you’re just trudging through the swampy water, getting pissed off at the mosquitoes.
Hunt Showdown is quite a slow-paced game, but it’s literally oozing with atmosphere, and I personally love its dirty, swampy style. But be warned, it is still an early access game. So if you give it a look, you’ll probably find a lot of bugs in this swamp. Both literal, and graphical…
3 Wild Guns Reloaded
|Initial Release Date||August 12, 1994|
Now I’m not going to lie to you, my beloved, beautiful, bewitching reader, this isn’t really much of a “Wild West” game. I mean, you’d be forgiven for thinking it is, since it has the word “Wild” right there in the name. But really, Wild Guns is more of a classic SNES shooting gallery game, with a bit of a western theme. But you know what? I still think it counts, and even if it doesn’t, WHO CARES YOU CAN PLAY AS A DOG WITH A DRONE!!!
Basically, this game is just too awesome to not include on my list. It’s an incredibly high energy shoot-em-up, with some amazing bosses, and really fun weapons! Even though very few of these guns are actually western themed. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a movie were a cowboy won his duel by using a laser gun?
But regardless, Wild Guns has always been arcade shooting at its finest. And the Reloaded edition just made everything better, adding in new characters, enemies, stages, and of course 4 player co-op! Just be warned, if you play this with me and you try to take the dog, I will actually lasoo you, and dangle you out of my window until you cry…
2 Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR
|Initial Release Date||March 8, 2018|
And speaking of Wild Guns, if you’ve ever played that and hoped that you could actually shoot up that many guys and gals yourself…then you’re probably pretty fucked in the head.
But still, good news! Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR has got your back! Despite having a name that’s incredibly annoying to type, this game is virtual reality shooting gallery glory! It’s got plenty of fun stages, interesting enemies, and somehow even MORE ridiculous guns than Wild Guns. We’re talking Minguns! We’re talking Lightning-guns! We’re even talking that big flamethrower’y looking grenade gun that gives me an erection!
It’s all very fun and crazy stuff, made all the better by the constant narration from the old main character. Some may think of it as the insane ramblings of an old man who’s half misremembering what happened and half blatantly lying to a child…
And some would be right.
But seriously, Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR (really, that’s such an awkward name) is funny, entertaining, and contains the best quality a VR game can have; Being fun enough that I still want to play through my inevitable sickness.
1 Fistful of Frags
|Initial Release Date||May 9, 2014|
|Developer||Fistful of Frags Team|
|Publisher||Fistful of Frags Team|
Now at this point you may be saying “Jum Jum, all these games look great, but the problem is, I can’t buy any of them! I lost all my money in a knife selling scheme!” Well don’t worry at all, you gullible little beauty, because my last game on the list, Fistful of Frags, is absolutely free! So now you can shoot funny looking white dudes in hats, whilst wasting nothing except your time. This game is a pretty standard western themed multiplayer FPS, that I personally think has a real charm in its simplicity. It’s got that more methodical style of gameplay, that you don’t see that much of in modern multiplayer shooters. The kind where you need to make every single shot count if you don’t want your guts to stain some dude’s bar, and totally ruin the feng shui.
Some may call it outdated, but I still like this style of FPS, and considering the game started out as nothing but a Half Life 2 mod back in the day, I think it’s pretty impressive. Fistful of Frags is fun, free, and full of fantastic fulfilling frivolity, that frequently features a formidable influx of folks.
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