Not a reworking of Rick Dangerous, Virtuous Western is a 30 stage puzzle game where you have to devise a strategy to kill off the fools who stole your horse, using limited ammo and environmental hazards. Enjoyable, albeit brief, the speedrun option really helps with repeat plays.
Developer: Nibb Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Platform: PS4/5 (this review), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Puzzle, indie, retro
Release Date: Out Now
Very satisfying puzzle elements
A good selection of challenges for the duration
Speed run option
Too brief (but that could be a pro..?)
Boss feels unfair until you work out the strategy
Could have done with additional scenery/music
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Virtuous Western sounds like it follows the righteous path, but whether you’re shooting varmints or not, dropping TNT on their head might be something best saved for the baddies? Hi, I’m Troy McClure, and you might remember me from…
From Nibb Games and Ratalaika Games, you play a man with no name whose horsey has been stolen by bandits. Your job is to punish them by shooting them in the back, dropping heaving crates on their noggins, and lobbing dynamite at their heads.
As a very short indie game, besides a well-presented comic book sequence leading up to the events, the story and overall plot are irrelevant as this is more or less a mini playground of death. Initially, you’ll shoot enemies with the limited bullets, use the environments, or equip the dynamite mentioned above.
Virtuous Western Review
It’s important to note that Virtuous Western is a puzzle game and not a platformer. Your gun is a three-shooter, but at the start of each level, it’s empty. The task at hand is to climb a series of ladders, enter doors, and outsmart the outlaws by coaxing them into shooting out crates which act as a temporary shield for you.
The goal is to kill all the enemies, usually restricted to one path. Entice an enemy to shoot at you that breaks a chain, thus causing said crates, or TNT onto a bandit, or perhaps more common, pop your head out from a ladder like a hyperactive meerkat to encourage them to reload. In that time, BLAM! shoot them in the face.
Death is instant in Virtuous Western, so if you’re shot, you’ll have to restart the level, or if you run out of ammo or get stuck behind an object, a manual restart. Matey boy can jump, but aside from a few platforms to bypass a threat, it’s a pretty redundant feature as you can’t jump over the obstacles.
Considering the simplicity and restrictions – jumping and ammo – this game is so fun, even when you die. Well, that’s a bit too masochistic as there’s no defining animation, cutscene or buff; it’s just that death is usually a learning curve that helps you come up with a solution for one of the puzzles. In the 30 levels, it only took two, maybe three attempts at a level maximum.
Click, Click, Reload
The biggest challenge, if anything, was the final boss stage. It was about 30 minutes, at a guess, to reach there and had assumed it was one of X number of bosses. Working out a strategy to defeat him probably took me more time than it should, including executing it (and him), but after his demise and another comic panel sequence, it was over.
This was disappointing as, up to that point, I’d genuinely been enjoying this indie title. The visuals are decent enough, but the repeated tumbleweeds and lack of scenery get a bit pedestrian – as does the one music track throughout. But none of these are bad, per se. To add to the longevity, you can replay the game again as a speed run. I’m not a speedrunner but applaud this feature that provides some longevity. Immediately after finishing, I replayed on this mode, albeit kept restarting as a bit of a perfectionist.
Virtuous Western is excellent. The lack of story and variety isn’t that much of a deal as the gameplay is massively enjoyable and makes a change to the other titles that take the same amount of time to customise a character. Is it worth the standard Ratalaika price, considering the length of time to play? Absolutely, and well worth it just for the one playthrough. The fact that you can speed run it adds to the challenge and replay value, blasting some more holes into those S.O.B.s.