The Wild West has often been the subject of great digital media, mostly on the big screen.
It was a popular film genre for many years, with both traditional westerns and Europe-produced spaghetti westerns popular with cinema-goers. The latter genre got its name from the Sergio Leone, who was behind the popular dollars trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966).
The genre isn’t quite as popular these days, although there are a few modern westerns that stand out. One, The Power of the Dog, was a recent Oscar winner, according to Yahoo and proves that the genre is still very much alive. However, outside of film, there is little for fans of the western to engage with. Unlike other genres, such as Vikings, the Wild West is barely touched in terms of TV series, and even in gaming, it is hard to find good westerns.
On mobile, gamers can indulge in Wild West: New Frontier Farm, but it is not the gun-slinging, cowboy-fest you might expect; it is a cartoon-style farm game, perhaps aimed at a different market to those wanting the traditional western experience. There is an online Slingo game from Foxy Bingo which fits the bill, namely Slingo Showdown, which is heavily western-themed. There’s not a gun in sight; instead, the imagery is very much based on a barroom card game and the Texas Rangers. Still, the title suggests a showdown, and if that’s what you’re after in a more literal sense, then The Gunslinger on iOS and Android delivers, albeit in a watered-down experience with elements of the Wild West included.
Sadly, if you want a digital Wild West experience, you may have to dig into the extensive back catalogue of console games to find something that fits the bill. Of course, one title stands out, but fans of gunfights, wild camping and barroom brawls will certainly find some entertainment in these five titles.
Desperados: Wanted Dead Or Alive (2001)
Whilst we had seen 3D games such as GoldenEye at the turn of the century, Wild West-themed games lagged behind. That meant fans of the era had to settle for the likes of Desperados, a real-time strategy game that put you in the shoes of a gang of bounty hunters. It was PC only, but it boasted good level design and a sharp difficulty curve,
Gun was one of the first 3D, free-roam western games to hit consoles, and as such, it still has a cult following. Nobody had seen such an intricate western in gaming before, and with real-life characters, it brought the era to life. As you’d expect, gunfights were a big game feature, set in 1880.
Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood (2009)
There was four Call of Juarez games, but only three were set in the Wild West. This one was the second in the series and perhaps the best. It was set in the 1860s after the American Civil War and was heavily influenced by spaghetti western films. It’s arguably the best of the series, with its sequel, The Cartel, flopping massively. The fourth game, Gunslinger, is also worth checking out,
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath (2005)
Initially released on Xbox in 2005, this game has since found its way onto the PlayStation 4 generation of machines, and even the Nintendo Switch, which underlines what a strong game it is. It’s not a typical western game; you control The Stranger, a bounty hunter collecting moolah. The live ammunition concept is unique; instead of bullets, you fire live creatures at enemies. It’s a unique twist on the popular genre but worth checking out.
Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018)
The first Red Dead Redemption, released in 2010, was widely accepted as the best western game ever, and for almost a decade, it remained so. However, the sequel doesn’t just raise the bar; it defines the genre. Nobody would ever mind if there’s no other western game made, such was the beauty and scope of Rockstar’s 2018 release. From the barroom to the desert, red Dead Redemption 2 did everything to put you in the Wild West. It should not be missed.