Grab yer gun, pardner, and step into the role of Kid, a young farmhand who finds himself caught in a conspiracy between that dang Saints-Little Gang and the Chepakwik tribe. You'll have to rustle up a few companions to make things right and save your home of Bronco County, because there are quite a few varmints who want you dead. Well, what do you say? Are you in or are you too yeller?
If you aren't, you'll want to check out Boot Hill Bounties, which is what you'd get if you viewed a quirky JRPG like Earthbound through a Wild West filter. The sequel to 2014's underappreciated spaghetti western adventure Boot Hill Heroes, this idiosyncratic indie game is a colorful and zany ride that deserves a moment in the spotlight.
You may not have heard much about either of the Boot Hill games, but if you were one of the few who did complete a romp through the Old West in the first game, you can import your progress.
Boot Hill Bounties picks up where Boot Hill Heroes left off, with Bronco County about to head to war. As it turns out, the Chepakwik have been framed, and only your ragtag bunch of heroes know the truth. Your posse and their dog Rusty have to work together to save their homes from the war that threatens to destroy them all. Three of your companions can be controlled by friends via multiplayer or you can leave them to the AI.
Boot Hill Bounties tasks you with rounding up five yellow-bellied cowards who call themselves "outlaws". If you want to be the rootinest, tootinest cowboy to ever have rustled up some cattle, you'll have to keep your wits about you as you work doggedly to unravel the conspiracy behind who framed the Chepakwik and why they'd want to do so in the first place.
While the western flavor is certainly welcome, Boot Hill Bounties' intricate combat system is where it truly shines. The reactive battle system lets you cycle through various "stances" and fighting styles throughout each brawl. As gauges not unlike Final Fantasy's real-time ATB system count down you can decide to block or dodge the next onslaught, then counterattack. The beauty of the system is that you can cancel any moves you make before they're completed, as long as you're quick enough.
Combat's frenetic, and at times totally wacky. Sometimes you'll fight a vulture that looks like an old-timey plague doctor. At other times rascally rabbits may try to tear you down. And there are no random encounters.
Fights can be traumatic, though. Much like Kingdom Come: Deliverance, you can break a bone, contract dysentery, suffer serious wounds, and deal with a litany of other injuries that require you to seek medical attention from a doctor. These things don't happen as often as you might fear, but they're enough of a nuisance to keep you on your toes.
There are lengthy tutorials to make sure you know what you're doing before getting turned loose, however. You can skip through them if you like, but anyone just starting will definitely want to give them a look.
It's not all exploration and combat, though. A cowboy's gotta keep himself occupied when kicking up some dust out there. You can make it your mission to uncover the 30 hats that'll help power up your party members, and if collecting things isn't your game, there's plenty of other activities to uncover. There's even a rewarding farming minigame for when you want to slow things down a bit.
Beyond everything there is to do, Boot Hill Bounties is a great-looking game. Intricate detail on each and every sprite, hand-drawn portraits, and unique enemies make it a visual delight. The colorful "western" font was a great addition as well, and I particularly enjoyed some of the strange faces your pet dog Rusty can make. Beagles are the ultimate trolls apparently.
Boot Hill Bounties is one of the more unusual RPGs you can find on Steam, and if you're looking for another excellent title clearly inspired by the likes of Earthbound, Lisa, or other games of that ilk, you should absolutely spend some time with it. It's available now, but I highly recommend picking up Boot Hill Heroes and playing through it first to immerse yourself in the series' inventive narrative. Now git!