That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite national holiday once again! Cowboy Day! A holiday I totally knew existed and routinely practiced well before writing this article, I promise. Pinky swears. And in honor of this momentous and well-known occasion, we’ve created a list filled with all kinds of cowboy games in a surprising variety of genres. Some of these games are on the older side, some are brand new, and one isn’t even out yet, but keep your eyes on it! Are you ready to be the rootin’-est, tootin’-est, shootin’-est quick draw in the west?
Now, I put this one at the top of this list for an important reason. I have to define my terms here. Weird West, in addition to being the name of this entry, is also the name of a somewhat niche genre of historical fantasy where the Old West was, well, take a guess. This is important because Weird West is not the only Weird West game in this list of cowboy games, and I wanted to make sure we’re all on the same page. (Imagine if Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t put the year at the end. How confusing would that be?)
Weird West (the game) is a Weird West (the genre) immersive sim about a series of different protagonists gunslinging and magicking their way across the frontier. How you solve your problems is up to you and there are many options available to you, and a wide variety of spooky things for the West to get Weird with. There does seem to be a consensus that the game gets repetitive as it goes on, but your mileage may vary on that criticism.
You know games like Mr. Shifty where it’s a fast-paced action-packed brawl where everyone dies in one hit, including you? Okay, now do you want that, but with a Wild West coat of paint and special dramatic kill animations as you slaughter your way through gangs of bandits while wearing a fur skin hat?
Stupid question. Of course, you do.
The game bills itself as a “one-hit kill die-retry murder ballet” which is a frankly delightful sequence of words. Now go. Those bandits aren’t going to get murdered by a carrot without you.
Back in the olden days, I cracked open Blood on a school PC, and as the adverts warned, began my service…
Make music in a sweet, pastel-toned dreamland in Melatonin, a gorgeous-looking rhythm indie game coming to Steam on December 15th. In…
West of Dead
Welcome to Purgatory. Wyoming. You play as William Mason, a dead man who walks the earth again, now with a flaming skull for a head, to take your trusty six-shooter and combine tactical positioning and cover-based shooting to blast your way through a legion of monsters in this action roguelike. The game has an absolutely stunning cell-shaded aesthetic that makes it pop like a comic book, and best of all Mason is voiced by Ron Perlman, who you might know for a number of reasons, but I need to highlight that he was the narrator of Fallout: New Vegas, one of the most cowboy AAA games ever.
Also, Run absolutely slaps and you should all listen to it
The first thing about Blood West that struck me was the very interesting visual style where modern, detailed 3D models are textured to resemble older PS1 era graphics, a style that I’m personally quite fond of. Throw in some Weird West (the genre) horror elements, some stealth gameplay, and you’ve got a recipe for a great time. And, as always, the best way to put the dead to rest is manually, by hand(gun).
12 is Better Than 6
This stylish hand drawn top-down shooter has another one of my personal favorite aesthetics: monochromatic using splashes of a single color for emphasis. In this case, it’s the red blood that really pops on the white soil. Choosing or alternating between stealth and action, it’s your goal as an escape slave to get out of Mexico and into Texas, and you aren’t about to let anyone stand in your way.
By the same team as the phenomenal Cold War Tactics Game Phantom Doctrine is Wild West Tactics Game Hard West, with a sequel scheduled to release sometime this year. This is a classic tale of Cowboy Revenge in the Weird West (still the genre). And what kind of cowboy would you be if you were wronged and didn’t dedicate yourself to hunting down every varmint that wronged you and leaving them a bullet?
Fistful of Frags
Here’s a game with a history. Fistful of Frags was originally a deathmatch mod for Half-Life 2 before being released on Steam in 2014 as a standalone free-to-play game. This is one of those games that doesn’t take itself super seriously. You heal by drinking whiskey, you can pick up the red gunpowder barrels to throw at them, and dropping your weapons to snag a fresh one off the ground is considered normal. This game is still running if you want to prove to all your friends that you’re the quicker draw.
West of Loathing
I don’t even know where to start with this one.
West of Loathing is a spinoff of the browser-based MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing, both mainly known for their sense of humor and art style, which, yes, does in fact consist of stick figures and crude drawings and yes, it does somehow still look good. West of Loathing is a CRPG giving you a lot of freedom in both your end goal and how you want to go about doing it.
Wild West ain’t the only place with cowboys.
Steamworld Dig 1 and 2 are all about heading down into the mines and tunneling and platforming around like a prospector working out of a frontier town to the Steamworld Heist game about piracy and banditry, the connected universe of the Steamworld franchise is extremely cowboy. If you want your westerns a little less weird and a little more steampunk, this is the franchise for you.
Westerado: Double Barreled
Come on. You knew this was gonna be on this list, and don’t pretend otherwise.
The original flash game Westerado has received a massive glow-up in the form of Double Barreled. This open world revenge thriller where you chase down the villain what murdered your family, tracking clues and slinging guns all the way, is a classic, in large part due to the flash game’s accessibility and YouTube publicity. But it’s a classic for a reason, and that’s why I saved it for last.
Bonus: Evil West
Since this one is still about two months out from release, I didn’t want to put it on the list when you couldn’t play it yet.
Evil West has a strong visual flair and nice and crunchy sound design making sure that every time you fan the hammer into some bandit their death will be a treat for your senses. Oh but don’t worry if you think there’s been too many entries since our last Weird West (still the genre) game, because you’ve got several Tesla-style gadgets and a horde of monsters to use them on.
Well pardner, it’s getting mighty late and I reckon it’s about time I take this old horse out into the sunset. I hope you have a fine time with these games, and a better one at the saloon before the shootout starts. If you’re hankering for more indie news, reviews, and coverage, then stick around a while at Indie Game Fans.