Nickie rides into town with a down-on-his-luck cowboy, and finds the trip surprisingly entertaining. Has the ultimate Western adventure game finally come to fruition? Saddle up and we'll find out.

A First Look at The Bad, The Ugly and the Sober

The good news –I’ve finally found a really fun adventure game that takes place in the Old West. The bad news will follow.

In vividly colorful cartoon-like graphics, this 3D third person perspective game promises a laugh from the first screen and doesn’t disappoint. There is so much to see in every screen, and so much to interact with that you will be reminded of other well loved classic adventure point and click games. Imagine Monkey Island goes to the Wild West, and it will give you an idea of the smorgasbord of color and detail that teases the senses. Tumbleweeds roll merrily across the screen, a stagecoach careens precariously around the trail, and the most adorable horse in the gaming world sticks its head through a window to get help for its wounded master.

The Story

Our hero is Jack, a hard drinking cowboy who is perfectly happy alone on his farm, isolated from the rest of the world. That is, until bandits beat him up and burn down his farm. Having no home and no money, he is forced to travel to Westtown to enter a shooting tournament. Besides that, there’s something in the air about treasure to be found.

Of course nothing’s easy, and Jack has to figure out how to get to town, and how to qualify to be in the tournament. For one thing, he doesn’t even have a gun. You’ll get to know the town well as you travel back and forth many a time, as clickable objects and people will often give you different responses as you progress in the story. You’ll be in a town that is the caricature of television western towns – from a saloon to the graveyard, with all the characters one would expect to meet. From a map I can see there are areas out of town that are intriguing, but that’s further in the game than this preview.

Along the way, almost every screen will have something to smile about, from visual gags to comments you get when an object is clicked on.
Upon seeing a skeleton in the desert near a stagecoach stop, Jack remarks “On his grave they will write that he believed in passenger service.” Upon a gravestone is the epitaph “His last words were hey you (blip), give me back my tobacco!” And as you can guess from the last, this is the rowdy West and the language is sometimes salty, so if that offends this may not be the game for you.

The music changes by area, all a rollicking western theme. For this preview version, the subtitles were in English, but the voiceovers were still in the developer’s native Russian.

A rolling red arrow indicates direction. Your cursor reveals binoculars over an area to indicate more information can be gained from an object, and a grabbing hand appears when an action can be taken. Your inventory can be accessed at the top of your screen with a right click, as can the main menu. You have ten save slots, and the game can be saved at any time outside of the action mini-games. And that brings me to what I promised to tell you later.

The Bad

For most of the game, this is adventure through and through, and the biggest aggravation is the occasional pixel hunting. Objects may have to be clicked several times to get comments on them before you can actually use them. If you click only once on an item, you may spend a frustratingly long time wandering around before in desperation you click on the item again, for a successful and unexpected resolution. But generally I think this is acceptable for most adventure game players, once they understand it’s the rule in the game.

What many adventure game players may not like is that there are mini-games that involve action. If you fail, the game takes you to the beginning of the action sequence without having to reload, which is nice. Each mini-game is different, from fist fighting to riding a bull, to the tournament where shooting is involved.

A few mini-games are very easy, and at least one that I’ve come across so far is quite difficult. The setting is really cute, an old timey bathhouse with lots of windows, which is the location for the first bout of the tournament. A bad guy pops up in different windows, and you have to shoot him before he shoots you. A few problems with this is that it is very quick, the game is smart enough to change up the pattern in which the bad guy moves, and there is an additional woman that pops up too. If you shoot her, it is the same as if you’re shot yourself. (I also suspect the game cheats, because I think I was faster on the draw than the bad guy several times, but in any case that is what I’m going to console myself with.) I was able to win this after about ten tries, but I also play action games, so fast reflex actions are not foreign to me.

To be fair, the developers of this game never called this an adventure game. They were honest and called it an action-adventure. But to me, the game is mostly so adventure-paced it is not going to please action gamers, and the mini-games are going to make the game unacceptable for many adventure gamers.

The preview build which I played was incredibly polished and glitch free for just a preview, indicating that most of the work has probably been completed on the game already. But I’ll ask anyway. If the developers or publishers are reading this, if you would consider a bypass button or some method where if you’re not successful in three tries, the game gives you a pass on each mini-game, I think you have a winner that the adventure community could enjoy very much.

For screenshots from The Bad, The Ugly and the Sober, click here. For more information, visit the game's webpage.