The Top 7… Weirdest westerns

Regular old cowboys too boring for you? Maybe you'll like the Old West's stranger side

The western: A cocky hero has to free the west (or what looks an awful lot like the west) from the grip of a ruthless gang of outlaws...

The weird:... who are actually a cabal of demons that not-so-secretly rule the world. And also the hero is a king-fu master who dances in place and has a magic arm that lets him do things like this:

Admittedly, this one's kind of a stretch – it's never entirely clear exactly when and where God Hand takes place, and if anything it seems a little more post-apocalyptic than western. But given that it's the story of a lone hero cleaning up dusty, nineteenth century-looking towns plagued with thugs who bully the townsfolk with impunity, and given that it all but wears itsspaghetti-westerninfluences on its sleeve, it doesn't really matter if there aren't many six-shooters or ten-gallon hats to be seen. Besides, God Hand brings the weird like few other games on this list.


Above: WHAT

Created by the same warped minds who would eventually go on to make Bayonetta, God Hand starts out as a more or less straightforward beat 'em-up against gangs of toughs, but quickly spirals into bizarre territory as demons, gay-stereotype bodybuilders,succubi with eerie theme musicand a Mexican bandito/buddhist monk named Elvis
roll in and get summarily booted in the junk as the game's laugh track roars.


Above: BOOM! Hahahahahaha!

The western: A lone gunslinger travels to a small town to investigate the kidnapping of a young boy…

The weird: … who, as it turns out, was abducted by a strange cult of werewolves led by an evil preacher who hangs out with vultures – and that isn’t even the weird part. If anything, Silverload’s supernatural malarkey is about as conventional and predictable as it gets. What makes the game weird is that it’s absolutely, objectively terrible, and it’s terrible in a very strange, unsettling and entertaining way.


Above: ‘Sirrrr, please to relaaax while the game finishes loading the next screen, HMMMMM?’

A bad PSOne port of a PC point-and-click adventure, Silverload looks awful, plays worse and usually just boils down to clicking around randomly at anything that looks interactive until something happens. And if it doesn’t happen quickly enough, some goddamn asshole werewolves will decide you’ve been standing in one place for too long and show you what they do to squatters ‘round these parts.


Above: OK, that’s eerie…


Above: OH NOES

Oh, but if you play your cards right, you might get to participate in one of the game’s few action sequences, in which you’ll blow away stiff-moving “digitized” “actors” with your rickety-looking six-shooter.

The real charm of Silverload, however, comes not from its awful gameplay, but from its awful performances. Using a visual style that’s halfway between FMV and badly animated illustrations, the “conversation” portions of Silverload (which make up a pretty substantial chunk of the game) are easily the eeriest thing on offer, with a bizarre mix of broad accents, terrible acting and unnatural mouth movements that never, ever match up with what’s being said.


Above: Surprisingly, he isn’t saying “GWARGH” right here

It’s at once insanely disturbing and utterly hilarious. You won’t get a sense of just how awesomely creepy it all is from me telling you, though; you’ve really got to see it for yourself:

Done suffering through that? We promise the last two won’t be nearly so painful.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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