A very fun game that is slightly hindered by its lack of length and scope.
This is definitely a case of Neversoft going outside of their comfort zone. Even if the style and setting is completely different, it still somehow feels like a Neversoft game. It is also a type of game that I believe should be utilized more often: the western setting. Did their risky endeavour of creating a western game pay off?
I should mention right out of the bat. Even though this game is quite old and the graphics are of its age, I was in awe of how it looked like. The tutorial area is in a forest, and it looked quite lush. Even in the more plain-looking desert environments I still thought they looked great. The backgrounds and the sky reminds me of the matte paintings that were used as the background for many western films.
Some of the character models could look better however. Their animation and the way they talk with their repetitive hand movements as they talk. I also noticed that when some models are far away they have an almost stop-motion type of animation. In Dodge I feel like the town could look more alive as well. There are a few NPCs that walk throughout it, but the people of importance is just them standing in front of a building. Feels more like a 2nd turn based JRPG and while it worked on those, it feels dead here. Of course, these sacrifices seem to be important, as in exchange of that we have a game world that requires no loading screens. You can travel from one end to the other seamlessly. However, the game world only consists one of town and one city, and you can travel across quite quickly.
The gameplay is where this game shines. The combat feels almost like an arcade shooter. It is quite challenging in the beginning, but with enough rewards the difficulty will decrease later on, making you feel more accomplished. These rewards come from side quests. The side quests basically increase your skills on top of rewarding you money. This provides plenty of motivation to complete them, and makes them feel like a little more than just padding the game time. I also didn't like the conclusion of the game. I won't spoil, but the way it's done feels too different from the rest of the game.
Unfortunately, the journey is quite short. You can complete this game 100% if you dedicate only one day to it. However, it somehow also feels like it will overstay its welcome quite soon. If they would extend the game length, then they would have had to provide more variety. I assume it's that short due to the story, which actually feels like the right length. It's not for me, but it actually felt quite similar to the Uncharted games. If you are a fan of those types of stories, then I can see you enjoying this.
This is a game that has aged quite well both with its graphics and gameplay. It does suffer from some light racism, but that is the standard for westerns. If you really love the Red Dead games and require to scratch your western itch, and wouldn't mind playing something older, even if short, then I recommend this game.