Those who grew up on TV shows like Wagon Train, The Rifleman and Gunsmoke find games with a western theme are too few and far between. That’s what makes the hidden object release Wild West Quest such a treat – cool water, as it were, for a parched throat. While not every chamber of this six-shooter is loaded, the shots fired are on target.
With most seek-and-find games, storylines seem like a last minute tack on rather than an integral design element. Fortunately, that’s not true here. It’s not of the same caliber as a New York Times Best Seller, but the narrative behind this Wild West adventure is quite good for a casual release. And, it goes like this…
According to family history, 120 years ago a gang of banditos shot and killed Grandpa Willy, your great-great-grandfather, when he refused to reveal the location of his secret gold mine. Now, in threat of foreclosure, your grandmother has asked you to rifle through the attic for goods you can sell to appease her creditor, Armstrong Bank.
It’s here you discover a chest filled with Old West paraphernalia that once belonged to your ill-fated ancestor. Included in the stash is a cowboy hat, an old journal, photos of William (Willie) Mason, a news clipping on his death and a wanted poster on Black Jack Armstrong, his killer (undoubtedly related to Armstrong Bank), and an antique pocket watch. That watch, however, isn’t just any old time piece. When wound, it transports you back to 1888, just prior to Grandpa Willy demise. Welcome to the Wild West!
Each level is woven together by the tale of your time-travel adventure and how it relates to locating great-great-gramps. Of course, your goal is to find and save him from that event, changing the future in the process. As you do, you’ll meet a wide variety of colorful, iconic folk, explore over 50 period locales including saloons, jails, mines, and more across 36 scenic levels, and collect hundreds of hidden objects from an anthology of thousands. Two modes of play modify the experience slightly, Timed and Relaxed, by incorporating or eliminating a time element.
How exactly are the levels corralled together? Justification for object hunts is handled through mundane tasks. For instance, cleaning up a room left in disarray by previous guests in exchange for a place to spend the night, and earning wages by running errands around town helping folks with organizing tasks. Yet, Wild West Quest entails more to finding Grandpa Willy than hidden objects alone.
In addition to the usual seek-and-find levels, you’ll encounter several other gameplay styles. Mini-games tucked between levels include scene comparisons where you identify the differences in two near-identical pictures, image hunts challenging you to locate various bits and pieces within a larger scene, and several arcade-style interludes that task you with doing things like lassoin’ stampeding horses, shootin’ banditos and collectin’ gold nuggets.
In general, Wild West Quest is an engaging diversion for object-hunting fans, especially those enamored of the Old West. Visuals are good, music is catchy, the story is well-written and integrated tightly into the game, play is addictive and, due to random object lists each time you start a new game, replayability is high. Plus, question marks hidden in each scene provide extra clues for locating hard-to-find items.
But, as mentioned earlier, a few chambers are empty in this sidearm. Not all objects are period accurate. Some are much too modern for the Old West. Play is a bit too easy, even in Timed mode. Arcade-style segments are weak. Shootin’ banditos, lassoin’ horses and collectin’ gold are simply a matter of waiting for the appropriate, slow-moving object to come into view and then clicking on it. If you miss one the first time, it will return later – no penalty entailed. And, one story element, the whole tie-in with the Armstrong family, is left unresolved.
Still, Wild West Quest is a fun way to relive the glory days of the Old West while rustling up some hidden objects in the process. It could have easily been titled “How the West was Fun.”