[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ild West role-playing games are sparse, and the most recognizable title is Rockstar’s “Red Dead” series. “Boot Hill Heroes” however means to dig in its spurs and gallop onto the set delivering a unique mix of gameplay and story-telling. The Spaghetti Western style RPG feels like one of the early “Final Fantasy” titles mated with the aforementioned “Red Dead,” creating an 8-bit, turn based role-playing game. The result is admittedly hilarious.
“Boot Hill Heroes” reached full funding and then some, raking in $18,092, well exceeding the $5,000 goal. Currently the Experimental Gamer project is on Steam Greenlight, so be sure to vote. Tiers were varied and realistic, including pledges from $10 and $15 all the way to $150, $250 and $1,000. Smaller donations (also known as the freelance writer budget), included perks such as having your name in the credits, a copy of the game, and a phone call, all the way to a cake ($150 tier) baked with character likenesses. The top level actually included Mayor of Kickstart Creek status, which meant you design the city. Clever incentives and comedic wording on the Kickstarter page offer insight into game dialogue and characters.
The narrative opens with a brief showdown between Swellsville’s Sherriff Templeton Howl and the Saints-Little gang. They’ve made an agreement that the gang will leave the town alone if Howl agrees to a fight. Howl is killed, and action fast forwards several years. The player now assumes the role of Templeton’s kid, appropriately named “Kid.” One encounter even features a bit of dialogue in which a non-player character comments on your generic name.
Action is very similar to “Final Fantasy.” The blocky environments feature animals and NPCs to interact with, as well as various buildings to explore. Many of these locations aren’t really necessary for the adventure, but they allow Kid to collect useful items, whether for personal use or sale. Occasionally I even hit the jackpot, such as when I “borrowed” $9.95 from a Swellsville home. Yes, opening crates and discovering money is referred to as borrowing. Other go odies found about the game include feathers, eggs, flowers, and clothes. As the game explains, some items are useful, some are better sold at the general store.
Gameplay felt fluid, and I really enjoyed how tutorials were mixed into the actual game. NPCs explain various aspects such as fighting, and the in-game menu even provides a hint section which can be toggled on or off. Controls are simple, and you can use either the standard WASD keys or arrows. I gravitated toward the arrows as I could actually play one handed. Being able to play while drinking coffee? Kudos, Experimental Gamer. A rare, but much appreciated feat. Leveling up occurs often, lending a satisfyingly rewarding feel. Enemies range from chickens and snapping turtles to people. While the atmosphere and combat are great, the strongest facets of the game are characters and dialogue. They are filled with antiquated phrases evocative of cheesy Westerns, which further reinforces the notion of a Wild West narrative as well as a “Final Fantasy” title. Additionally, names alone are laugh out loud funny. There’s Brawler Bill, and a bounty hunter named “Doc.” After the town is burned, you can talk to ash-covered residents, which evidences the attention to detail which makes “Boot Hill Heroes” such an engaging title. Even saving the game is entertaining- simply seek out your faithful dog Rusty (pay attention to his wisdom, he can be quite insightful).
Should you pick up “Boot Hill Heroes”? You betcha pardner. See you on the other side.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/moe.jpg” ]Mitchell “Moe” Long is a North Carolina writer with a passion for all things pop culture. Besides gaming, Moe enjoys cult classic films, listening to vinyl, and drinking far too much coffee. In addition to Cliqist, Moe writes about music and movies, and is currently composing what he hopes will one day be a novel about the universally awkward period of life known as high school. Feel free to check out and subscribe to his Examiner page as well as connect with him on Twitter. [/author]