Westerado: Double Barreled

A game by Ostrich Banditos for PC and Mac, originally released in 2015.
Westerado: Double Barreled is an expanded follow-up to a Flash-based game, simply entitled Westerado!, which was released in 2013. As in the original release, the game is an open world action-adventure set in the old west.

The game begins when your mother asks you to help your brother with the buffalo herd. In doing so, one of the buffalo manages to escape the pen and run off, and the opening credits sequence sees the young cowboy chasing the animal across the desert.

As lighthearted as this scene is, things quickly turn tragic as the cowboy returns to his farm that evening to find it ablaze. When he gets closer, he finds that his mother has been killed, and his brother is mortally wounded and lies dying in the dirt. The brother manages only to reveal details about the brim of the killer’s hat, and offers up his gun, asking you to end his suffering, at which point you may opt to take aim and shoot your brother.

The goal of the game is to find the man who killed your family and burned your farm, and get your revenge. This is accomplished by completing quests for various townsfolk, ranchers, and other people, most of whom will reveal a single additional detail about the killer once the quest is complete.

The player has a journal to keep track of his quests, as well as a “wanted” poster, showing what he knows about the killer, while the rest of the details are in a state of flux (in the original Flash-based game, the player had to keep track of all of this on his own). As the player moves forward, he eventually learns the color of the man’s shirt, pants, and jacket, as well as the style of his hat and belt, locking these details down on the poster and allowing the player to hone in on his enemy, who is simply another resident of the world. Descriptions of the killer are randomized with each playthrough, preventing the player from simply running up to the guilty party and challenging him.

The controls are very simple, with the player being able to walk or run, as well as pull out his gun at will. Weapons may only be aimed to the left or right – and the same restriction holds true for enemies – so dispatching foes requires that the player move onto their horizontal plane, and move up or down to dodge their fire.

The pace of gunfights is deliberately slow, requiring that the player cock his weapon before it can be fired, which requires two separate button presses, and bullets are reloaded one at a time. Once again, enemies are affected in the same way, allowing players a better chance to gauge when it is safe to move in and take a shot.

The default revolver holds six shots, and several other weapons may be purchased or earned, such as a shotgun, rifle, bolo, and dual revolvers. The shotgun has a short wide range, but it only holds two shells at a time. The rifle has a sight that allows players to line up distant enemies more easily, and a single bullet can penetrate multiple targets. Dual revolvers simply double the player’s firepower over the single revolver. The bolo may be thrown infinitely without the need to reload, and there is another throwing weapon that becomes available after meeting certain conditions.

The player starts the game with three hats, which correspond to the number of hits the cowboy can take before he is killed, at which point he restarts at his home with three more hats, but with half of his money gone (the original game did not allow the player to continue once killed). Players can hold onto their money by depositing it in the bank.

When the player is shot – or bitten by a wolf or stung by a scorpion – he loses his hat. Once all three hats are gone, the player runs around with no hat, and the next shot will kill him. However, the player may purchase additional hats or, interestingly, he may shoot the hats off of enemies' heads and pick them up, thus allowing him to absorb another hit of damage… however, hats will blow away after a few seconds in outdoor locations. This hat system can lead to some frantic situations during gun battles as the player scrambles to pick up a fallen hat before getting taken out by a group of banditos.

While revenge is the cowboy’s ultimate goal, how he goes about it left entirely to the player, as the world is completely open. Players may explore as they like – although they will find plenty of hostile territory – and take on any quests they see fit, many of which may be completed in any order. However, a number of quests conflict with one another, and completing one quest may put players at odds with another group of people.

For instance, the army has plans to take down the Native American population by force, and you are free to assist the army, or to help the tribe's chief to reach a peaceful accord... but helping the chief may damage your relationship with some of the ranchers. Even so, the player is often free to work both sides for a while, and even double-cross allies by keeping money intended for them, or just killing them outright.

One of the more interesting aspects of Westerado: Double Barreled is the fact that you can draw your weapon on anyone and gun down whomever you see fit. Of course, there are consequences to your actions… Drawing your weapon during a conversation with most folks will put them off immediately – as will falsely accusing them of your family’s murder – but it occasionally helps to move quests forward when dealing with some particularly obstinate individuals.

In addition, you can kill even the most important NPC’s, including your uncle and the town sheriff, and the game will go on. Sure, gunning someone down in the middle of the street may bring the other townsfolk to arms, but you can kill all of them as well… if you have the skill. As you might imagine, killing everyone in sight will make it more difficult to track down your family’s killer, but not impossible.

After a while, your murderous rampages can even earn you a reputation, and walking into hostile territory will result in enemies cowering in fear instead of shooting at you, leaving you free to deal with them as you like, or simply walk through their lairs and make off with their stashes of money.

Players may also bring on additional help to deal with enemies, although friendly fire is firmly in place here, so going in with other guys can be a bit dangerous. Here again, the same rules apply to enemies as well, and you’ll often find that enemies accidentally kill one another during frantic firefights.

The player’s journal shows all of the current quests and which of them have been completed, and the map shows the general lay of the land and marks important areas. While there is a great deal to do in the opening areas, players will eventually discover that the world is quite large, with a couple of towns, a forest, mountains, a huge desert, and a number of underground passages.

A fast-travel system is in place as well, allowing players to use horses to move instantly between key locations. There are also a number of side quests to be found, as well as some hidden items, each of which leads to additional rewards.

While most of the gameplay boils down to speaking with NPC’s or shooting it out with bad guys, there are a few missions that break up the pace, such as escort missions where players must protect a stagecoach or a herd of buffalo as it moves across the desert. Additionally, the player may pick up wanted posters and go after bad guys based on their description and last known location, which is also a good way to earn extra cash to buy weapons, have a few drinks at the saloon, pick up some new duds, or do some gambling.

Westerado: Double Barreled may be played alone or with a friend, and it can also be played in Iron Man Mode, which brings back the permadeath of the original Flash game. Completing the game unlocks your brother as a playable character, although he has no hat, which means that he dies in a single hit. Two other playable characters are unlockable as well by completing specific quests.

The game offers a great deal of humorous dialogue and situations, as well as a number of references to popular culture and western films, such as the town of Clintwood being named for its founder: East Clintwood. Other references can be found by checking out various headstones and statues throughout the game. The game is presented in a chunky pixel art style with simple character models, but there is a great deal of detail and variety in the environments, and a suitable western musical theme throughout, composed by Sam van Lonkhuyzen.

Westerado: Double Barreled was developed by Ostrich Banditos, a studio based in Utrecht, Netherlands. The studio was founded in 2012 by a trio of students who banded together to create a game in just three weeks. That game was the Flash-based title High Vaultage. Adding a couple of new members to the team, the studio went on to develop another Flash-based title in the form of Westerado!, which was released for free in 2013 via the Adult Swim Games portal.

With the help of Adult Swim Games, development of an enhanced version of the game began in January of 2014, releasing with the Double Barreled subtitle in 2015. Adult Swim Games is responsible for publishing a number of 2D action games, including Super House of Dead Ninjas, Völgarr the Viking, Fist Puncher, Super Comboman, Oblitus, Rise & Shine, Rain World, and Death's Gambit.