The introduction is short but pleasing enough & shows a cut scene with Fenimore & Rhiannon galloping “towards the West” as the title & credits appear. The couple come across an injured man & this is where the gameplay starts. This is soon interrupted by another cut scene showing Fenimore being shot & left for dead by bandits & Rhiannon being kidnapped, but not before the injured man has told her about a stash of money hidden in a graveyard.
On the back of the box it says … “Allow yourself to be drawn into a well put together storyline with plenty of twists.” Mmm…… well the story does start promisingly enough & does tie up nicely to completion, I thought, but it was very straight forward with few plot elements & no interesting elaboration let alone twists! Consequently, the game only took me, at the most, 6 hours to play & therefore felt more like one episode in a series of adventures rather than one full one.
Would it have worked better as an episode? Well, I think it would have been a better way of marketing it except that the short length wasn’t the only problem!
These are all inventory based & although some were interesting they were for the most part unchallenging. All consisted of looking around for items & most were easy to find – the ones I found hardest to locate were things I knew I needed! (But I don’t agree that a function to locate hotspots was necessary – where do you draw the line between pixel hunting & exploration? bearing in mind the latter was sorely lacking!) Also there was a lot of inconsistency throughout the game as to how puzzles were approached i.e. earlier on you are given 3 tasks by someone - if you talk to them again a ‘film strip’ appears on the screen where you can click on various topics to be reminded of the tasks which you have to work out for yourself. This is the only time this feature appears in the game. In a later scene you have to go back to a save to be reminded of the task but you are ‘talked through it’ anyway – you don’t have to think that much at all. And even later you find yourself in a couple of situations where you are not clear on what you are supposed to do & get the result by juggling around with items & objects although I did find this more interesting than being directed! Also there was one point in the game where I was told I was too far away to pick up an item although I didn’t have any issue in similar scenarios anywhere else!
Generally, I did find the potential for puzzles was hampered by some of them either being completed, or the possibility for others replaced, by cut scenes! There was too much of that in this game!
Action & timed sequences:
The game is primarily an adventure & not a hybrid although it does feature 4 shooting sequences. One of these is a fairly easy ‘target practise’ – it only took me a couple of attempts but my experience differed from a couple of reviews I read which inferred that aiming properly didn’t bring the desired results. I found that aiming accurately did the trick but also that the game was a little forgiving in that you still got the targets if you were slightly off! You do have to ‘move yourself’ but you don’t have to be super quick! The other 3, which get progressively harder, are shoot outs set in similar environments to each other & involve a little bit of stealth to locate all of the gunmen involved. Surprisingly, I found that I quite enjoyed these sequences – the last & hardest one took me 3 - 4 attempts to win. It’s difficult to gauge whether these are harder than the ones in Wanted as I know I have better reflexes now than when I played that. The good news is that if you die in the shoot outs the game automatically takes you back to the beginning of it, but the bad news is that there is no opportunity to save immediately before & after them as they merge into a series of cut scenes. So if you are a player needing a save game to get past them, you will miss a lot!
There are two other very subtle ‘timed’ sequences neither of which you recognise as such until you run out of time but again you are thrown back to the beginning of the scene rather than having a ‘game over’ needing you to go back to a save. Although unexpected, I didn’t mind these as they were both logical & in context to the story at the time, & once you had worked out what you needed to get & do I found there was plenty of time!
The game is entirely point & click. Inventory is accessed by moving the cursor to the top of the screen & the main menu by clicking on the Sheriff’s Badge in the left corner. To save (& load) you click on a slot on a film strip (running horizontally) – the more recent to the left. You get a picture & the date (no time). It’s all pretty straight forward & works well.
Graphics, Music & Voice Acting:
And now to the highlights of the game! And it makes me want to cry for the rest of it because the environments, if not state of the art are beautifully coloured & vibrant, the characters are wonderfully rendered & expressive – Fenimore Fillmore has lost his childish ‘Pinocchio’ look to appear ‘meaner & leaner’ – & the character movement is reasonably competent. There are not enough locations but there is some attempt to offer a 3D environment that works quite well in a limited way in some places & the atmosphere is added to in places, as much as it can be, by some wonderful music. As for the voice acting – again, perhaps not Oscar winning performances but they do the job & I don’t agree with a criticism I read about the voice of a prominent character being difficult to understand – I understood him clearly & also thought it was pretty good!
Overall, I enjoyed the game but thought it was very lacking & had the potential to be so much better. I feel a little sad that perhaps the lack of consistency & polish was less to do with the lack of a good idea & talent & more to do with time & budget constraints.