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DUST: A Tale of the Wired West

Reviewed by  Mr. Bill & Lela

A little blackjack, sugar? I'll make it worth your while.Having spent about 15 years in the great American Southwest, we can tell you right now that this game has captured that special spirit, mystique and ambience of the place, in all of its colorful complexity. It is a delightful game in many ways, and is one of our personal favorites.

It was created by the talented people at Cyberflix (they made 'Titanic', and one of that game's characters appears here), and it is a difficult game to classify. Western? Comedy? Adventure? It combines elements from all of these, in a great yarn that turns out to be not quite as simple as it first appears.

The story takes place over 5 days in the dusty desert town of Diamondback, New Mexico, a lawless town without a sheriff in the year 1882. The town itself is typical of many of the ghost towns still existing there today, including the buzzards, stray dogs and pigs, and of course the ubiquitous tumbleweeds. Diamondback.  A town crawling with thieves, flimflammers and lawyers.  You'll fit right in!You can almost smell the heat and dryness of the air, and the town is fully explorable:  from the 'Hard Drive' saloon/whorehouse to the old Spanish mission at the end of town. "You can amble down main street or belly up to the bar", or even "go callin" at the local Mayor's house.

You are a stranger in town, on the run from a notorious outlaw known only as 'The Kid'.  You're a man with no name, no money, no gun, not even a decent pair of boots.  And from the moment you walk into town, it feels like everyone you meet is conspiring to destroy what little self-esteem and confidence you have left.  You just get no respect from anyone, from the town drunk to the town pretty boy... not even from the girls at the Hard Drive!

Don't interrupt me, boy! I'll whup yore ass!But eventually they more or less accept you, and you settle in and learn your way around. Only to discover that beneath the easygoing facade of this stereotypical western town, lie plots and schemes involving everything from lost treasure to a lost Native American heritage, and everyone from bounty hunters to a fast talking French flimflam man.  And now suddenly they're all looking to you for help.  Will you help them?  Or just take the money and run?

This is a 1st person, point & click game, with inventory and a map to make travel easy. You earn money by playing realistic poker, blackjack or slots in the saloon.  Just save when you win, quit and restore when you lose, and be sure to deposit half of your winnings in the bank (remember that this is a lawless town).  It's a lot of fun, and we continued playing Blackjack long after we had plenty of money (perhaps because of the sexy and flirtatious dealer?).

Inside the Hard Drive SaloonThe puzzles can be solved in any order, and many have alternate solutions.  A lot of them aren't easy, especially the last one, but the game has a great built in character to help you if you get stuck... in fact, his name is 'Help'.  Most of the puzzles are inventory based and/or solved with information gleaned from conversations and a diary.  But there is a fistfight and 3 gunfight sequences toward the end of the game.  However this is not a violent game. They are all treated more like target shooting, are not too difficult (we're never very good at that sort of thing, and we did it), and besides, you get to practice on an actual target range beforehand.  Just remember to make sure your gun is loaded... we didn't at first!

But it is the offbeat western humor from outrageous characters that puts this game over the top, and makes it truly unforgettable. You hear "You're a little slow there, aren't you Buck?" until you're saying it in real life. Dona Canute, the salty proprietress of the Hard DriveYou order a 'Fruity Prairie Oyster Daiquiri' at the bar (a 'prairie oyster' is a western euphemism for what is usually found only in a spittoon!). You mix a prescription that will have you hysterical about the familiar modern day habit of trying to balance side effects. You make 'The Kid' nervous by publicly revealing his darkest personal secrets.  And the female town doctor, 'Dr. Rodham', is such a brilliant spoof that even Hillary Clinton herself would love it!

A wonderful game with a fascinating mystical/spiritual Native American grand finale, and a choice of endings (save and try them all). We'll miss both the town and the characters... we almost cried when we had to say goodbye to our friend Jackalope Jones.  For those of you who don't know:  On the wall in practically every Western bar, you can see the mounted head of a creature that looks like a jack rabbit with antlers.  It's called a 'Jackalope', and it's hung there as an example of the local wildlife... to fool gullible Easterners!

Don't miss this great game!

One scraggly tree is called 'shade' in these parts
Full View Screenshot

Developed (1995) by Cyberflix (no longer exists) and published by GTE Entertainment (no longer exists). Published (1996) by Expert Software.

Rated:   T   for Teen 13+  (gambling, animated violence, mild language)

Minimum System Requirements:  Windows   MAC

Where To Buy This Game:

Walkthroughs or Hints:

"Hints & Walkthrough" available here!

"Hints & Walkthrough" available here!

Mr. Bill's   Adventureland
Copyright  1998, Revised 2001
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