This Town Ain’t Big Enough…
Folks are spreading a rumor that two of my deputies were caught sleeping together. It’s my fault—I ordered them to shack up together in a hotel for a combat bonus. This oddly adult joke shouldn’t have shocked me; this is a title by GOAT Games, creators of the infamously lewd King’s Throne: Game of Lust. As a poet once said: “Can’t stand the heat? Then get out the Wild Wild West.”
These Violent Delights Have Violent Ends
Branded as a “strategy idle RPG,” Wild West Heroes is a typical incremental game. It boasts a town to build, stat-driven idle combat, and a parade of minigames to keep players coming back. Unsurprisingly, one of these addictive mechanics is the gacha card game used to unlock new heroes. Draw marshalls, desperados, gunslingers, and Native warriors, and they’ll draw on your foes. Your posse has a habit of getting into shootouts with bandits which inevitably transitions to a horseback chase.
While the idle battles are visually engaging, I never felt like was influencing its outcome. No strategic decision—like gear upgrades, hero selection, or even my heroes’ scandalous hotel combat buff—made much of an impact beyond a tiny stat increase. Whenever I failed a level, I wound up heading back into town and aimlessly tapping on notifications, hoping for some slight advantage to squeak by the mission next time. Thankfully, players who just want to get back to the story have the option of watching battles play out in double speed or even skipping through encounters altogether. But it’s a shame the combat was not worth watching.
Full of Splendor
Theme and presentation set Wild West Heroes apart. While fantasy tropes and dull art dominate RPGs on mobile, Wild West Heroes stands out with a bold and beautifully animated take on the Western genre. Even menus look fresh and fun—which is a relief given that you’ll spend most of your playtime buried in them.
Like many strategy games on mobile, Wild West Heroes has players setting up buildings in their town to unlock new content and perks. Thankfully, this is a free and instantaneous process—no coughing up real-world money to speed up a build. Unlike a lot of obligatory mobile game cities, the frontier settlement of Wild West Heroes is full of life. Residents tell jokes, spread rumors, and even sleep together.
Cowboys & Indigenous Peoples
A note about the depiction of Native Americans. Wild West Heroes portrays indigenous characters—like everyone else in the game—as musclebound caricatures. As Westerns go, this rendition of the old “Cowboys & Indians” fantasy is not particularly bigoted, but it does nothing to reverse a century of objectifying, violent media depictions of Native Americans.
A Fistful of Dollars…And Gold Dust
It wouldn’t be a mobile game in 2020 without a dozen distinct resources. Win combat and minigames for gems, stacks of dollars, piles of gold dust, gacha cards, puzzle pieces, and more. Players collect new heroes with cards, spend dollars to raise their level, promote them further with gold dust, and outfit them with gear which itself can be upgraded. Admittedly, it’s all a little glitzy for a frontier town setting.
For A Few Dollars More
Of course, you could always cough up some real dollars if you want those resources right now. Wild West Heroes wears its microtransaction-heavy business model on its sleeves, reminding players at login about the deals they’re missing out on.
But the logins themselves leave an even worse impression than the ads that follow them. Logging in takes far too long, with initial load times of up to twenty minutes. As the login screen cryptically states: “If there is a login problem, Lynn will provide support, go find her on Facebook!” I have yet to track down this mysterious Lynn, but if anyone gets ahold of her, let me know—my rewards chest is about to overflow.
Wild West Heroes features delightful visuals and a bounty of diversions. To an idle RPG fan unbothered by the genre’s time-wasting, pocket-draining trappings, there is a lot to enjoy, here. But strategy enthusiasts who enjoy puzzling out tactics and making meaningful choices will find little of value, even after hours of investment. That is, if they can manage to log in at all.
Is It Hardcore?
It’s not hard and it’s a bit of a chore. But if “idle strategy RPG with cowboys” is music to your ears, give it a download.