by Robert Thomas
reviewed on PC
Dueling in the Wild Wild West
If two people have a grudge in the wild west, there's only one way to solve it; a duel. In Western Press, that's what you do. In history, duels only last a couple seconds, and Western Press is all about those precious few seconds. Although it's a fun party game to play online or with friends, the countdown before you draw your weapon is a tense couple of seconds. Once the announcer says "draw," you and your opponent have to hurry to match every button prompt in a matter of seconds, or that's it, you're dead.
Western Press' concept is simple and easy to love. You pick your character, pick your controller, and then prepare to duel. The announcer counts you down, and then once he says draw, the first button prompt appears. The millisecond you see that button, you start down a row of 10 random buttons that you have to press as quickly as possible. If you're good, it'll only take as long as the 3-second countdown at the beginning of the match. If you're really, really good, it'll take you less than that. Matches will more often than not, come down to the wire, with only a tenth, maybe even a hundredth of a second between the two players. The learning curve is short, so players will be able to be competitive real quick.
Polished to a Sheen
While the matches are short and the concept is simple, everything is very well polished. The online is excellent and the matches I've had have all been flawless in terms of lag, or lack thereof. Right now, Western Press might be lacking in a player base, however, it has potential to form a niche, but solid community. Couple the short learning curve with the amazing controller support, which allows the use of PlayStation, Xbox, and Keyboard controls, it's very easy for anyone to jump in and duel.
There's also an impressive variety of stages and characters. The stages, while all well-crafted and distinct from one another, only get to be seen for a few seconds before the duel is over. The characters are all brilliant. Some of the standout duelists include a priest, a Native American chief on horse, and, my personal favorite, a Civil War general who uses a cannon rather than a gun to duel. All the characters will give a brief one-liner before the battle starts, that brings out just enough personality to make you smirk.
A Pixelated Frontier
The pixel art of Western Press is incredibly impressive. The numerous and incredibly varied roster of characters all look very cool, with unique animations for each of them firing their weapons. Even though you'll only get to see them for a brief couple of seconds, the stages are all very, very visually interesting. They range from the typical western saloon, to a rainy prairie, to the top of a train car, all with details that, if you had time, would be fun to examine.
The soundtrack is simply perfect for the game, with a lot of western twang that sets the mood for the period. As great as it is, the announcer for this game, is the true spotlight of the sound design. He is exactly how you would expect a wise cowboy to sound, letting out sage wisdom and directing the player on the rules before the game. The countdown is excellent, as it syncs perfectly with the moment the first button prompt appears on the screen.
Tumbleweeds when it Comes to Content and Community
As of now, Western Press is lacking a bit of content. There's only the two game modes for online and local multiplayer, and a few bot-battles for single-player. Another bummer, as I stated before, is that Western Press hasn't drawn a large crowd. These two things combined, make the game a bit sparse for content. This is mitigated a little bit by its low price of $4.99, but mileage may vary on being able to find an online lobby.
Western Press describes itself as "the most historically accurate frontier dueling game available," and while I'm not sure on the authenticity a priest with a shotgun shooting at a cannon-wielding soldier, I can say the quick nature of the shootouts is very accurate to history. These short quick-time event battles are tense, challenging, and most of all, fun. The visual style, on both stages and characters, of pixel-art with a western athletic is excellent. The narrator is the stand-out of an amazing work on sound design. Although not diverse in content and lacking a bit in players, it does not shirk in the departments of polish and style. With a low price, Western Press is definitely a game to pick for you and some friends to duel it out in Old West.
Fun and competitive multiplayer with a low price, and small learning curve. Great visuals and sound.
Very small online-community. Only a few ways to play.