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The Top 7… Weirdest westerns

4. God Hand

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 its spaghetti-western influences 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 music and 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!

 

3. Silverload

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.

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40 comments

  • INFINITYGAUNTLET - July 28, 2010 7:22 p.m.

    Always felt that Darkwatch was underappreciated, myself. And everything Oddworld is just a pure classic in my book. Excellent list/read!
  • bonerachieved - May 20, 2010 6:25 p.m.

    I loved Stranger's Wrath. Such a good game. I'm about to go back and replay Oddworld: Munch's Odyssey.
  • shyfonzie - May 20, 2010 2:57 a.m.

    God hand guy gets too much enjoyment from his special moves.
  • TheBoz - May 19, 2010 9:17 p.m.

    Freddy Pharkas I have very fond memories of it, was one of the earliest PC games I ever bought. When I saw article I was looking out for that game big time. I think I got bored after a couple of weeks and just had it gathering dust ever since. True classic. Downloaded it recently off Abandonia for free.
  • LizarDAZZLE - May 19, 2010 5:47 a.m.

    oi.... Again wit deh ohkemees... Kids these days just can't seem to stehp talkin' ehbouht der wolves end pehntbrushers can dey, Jenkins? Ironically my, reCAPTCHA was Mr Monicker. pretty ironic.
  • Cyberninja - May 18, 2010 10:07 p.m.

    rising zan reminds me of redsteel 2
  • RebornKusabi - May 18, 2010 9:38 p.m.

    Considering I actually bought both Okami and Valkyrie Chronicles when they released, is it any surprise that I also got [OddWorld: Strangers Wrath] too when it came out? It helps that I liked the Oddworld series beforehand and that I tend to like games that actually TRY something new relative to the genre they base their games around. reCAPTCHA: tuscany highlights (lolwut?/)
  • sleepy92ismypsn - May 18, 2010 5:25 p.m.

    I dont think i've played a wastern but as soon as i get a ride im going to pick up Red Dead Redemption. I've been wanting to try some of the oddworld games. Mainly abe's oddysey, but i remember watching a video about strangers wrath with commentary from one of the devs.
  • FreekinIdiot - May 18, 2010 1:19 p.m.

    Is that a jaundiced Michael J Fox in Silverload?
  • MaynardJ - May 18, 2010 11:34 a.m.

    I would buy Stranger's Wrath if only it were playable on the 360. It should be on XBLA as an XBox Original, like that other oddball gem Psychonauts.
  • Skidd777 - May 18, 2010 11:27 a.m.

    Hell yeah, Stranger's Wrath is one of my favourite games of all time.
  • philipshaw - May 18, 2010 11:21 a.m.

    I played the darkwatch demo and it was strange but not as weird as God Hand which I own and have played through. Silverload looks awful. Also the person in the bar looked a bit like Mikel Reparaz
  • FrozenImplosion - May 18, 2010 10:18 a.m.

    Yay! Right when I saw the title I thought Stranger's Wrath. That was like my favorite game on the xbox!!
  • Llanthas - May 18, 2010 7:55 a.m.

    "weirdos who speak in monosyllabic gibberish have taken over his hometown and started massacring the inhabitants for what we assume are reasons." Best line of the week. LOL well done, sir... I'm going to use it in future conversations.
  • Lolspamm0r - May 18, 2010 6:15 a.m.

    I loved Stranger's Wrath, i kind of miss it now that my Xbox is broken...
  • gmilf71 - May 18, 2010 4:35 a.m.

    Dude I effin' love Darkwatch. Definitely one of my favorite western (the other being Red Dead Revolver) maybe even one of my favorite FPS.
  • lucklesswonder - May 18, 2010 3:37 a.m.

    Darkwatch was pretty good, but Stranger's Wrath was amazing. Found a copy on the cheap at Best Buy, and it still holds up.
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - May 18, 2010 2:55 a.m.

    Successful RAPE!
  • Grif - May 18, 2010 2:36 a.m.

    If Darkwatch came out today I would probably give it a play through,

Showing 1-20 of 40 comments

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