Video Game: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

There's a time for grievin'
And a time to just pray
There's a time for forgivin
'
But it's not for today.

The fourth game in the Call of Juarez series, Gunslinger was released May 22, 2013. Opening in 1910 when the Old West is dwindling, an old gunslinger enters a saloon in Abilene, Kansas. The said gunslinger, now well past fifty, introduces himself as the legendary (albeit former) Bounty Hunter Silas Greaves, and greets the handful of patrons gathered around: Dwight, Molly, Jack, Steve, and Ben.

Offered a drink by Dwight, Silas is asked if the penny dreadful books about him are true, and if he'd regale them some tales of his past. Starting with when he crossed paths with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Silas finds himself rambling off his whole career, along with how he fought through half the West all in pursuit of vengeance.

The setting is the Old West again, but the gameplay is less plot-driven and veers away from free exploration towards arcade-like shooting sequences. The game is especially unique through the constant use of Lemony Narrator and Unreliable Narrator, with Silas occasionally arguing with running events and historical fact, claiming involvement in unsolved events, and occasionally chatting with the other patrons.

Released on multiple platforms, the game was met with widespread critical and consumer praise.

Tropes found in the game:

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    A-F 
  • Affectionate Parody: The game is home to almost every single Spaghetti Western trope in existence: the Guns Akimbo Guttural Growler Gunslinger, the Roaring Rampage of Revenge, the Showdown at High Noon, Violent Prison Escapes, bounty hunters, famous outlaws, Indians, an Unreliable Narrator framing the whole work in the guise of a story told over drinks... and yet while laying out all these tropes shamelessly for us to see, it still clearly embraces them all with joy, shown in its sincere and involved presentation of the story and characters, and the earnest interest of in-universe fanboy Dwight, who almost comes across as the surrogate voice for the devs themselves.
  • All The Worlds Are A Stage: In the last level, before the final bosses, you have to fight against multiple ghost doppelgangers of each boss of the game; they are only as tough as a mook, though.
  • Alternate History: Surprisingly averted for the most part, any character Silas fights that is well-known to either be still alive long after he supposedly kills them, or died by other means survives their encounters with him. The only thing that is changed significantly is The fate of the Big Bad Roscoe "Bob" Bryant, who died in 1878. A whole 32 year difference from when Silas (possibly) killed him.
    • The various collectables throughout the game also provide the historically accurate story of what happened to who (as far as we know) and uses the Hand Wave excuse that Silas is exaggerating his stories to explain aspects of the game that don't match up point to point with real life evidence.
  • Art Shift: Gunslinger uses this trope, stylizing the game with cartoony outlines and exaggerated blood effects, to name but a few.
  • As the Good Book Says: The Golden Rifle bears the inscription Luke 16:28. The quote (KJV) is as follows:
    For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
  • Been There, Shaped History/Hero Killer: Over the course of the game, Silas claims to have fought against (and soundly beaten) pretty much every major gunslinger from the Old West, including John Wesley Hardin, the Cowboys, Jesse James, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The impressionable teenager he's telling the story to also turns out to be Dwight D. Eisenhower. He doesn't claim to have fought Billy The Kid, but he says he met him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Revenge ending. Silas finally avenges his brothers after years of bloodshed, but he himself admits that his violent path has forever changed him and that, in the end, he was Not So Different from Bob and his henchmen after all.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: The skill tree includes special abilities which turn the guns into examples of the trope (and gives them more damages and accuracy).
  • Boss Battle: Exists in two flavours. The first are classical boss battles against a named character with his own life bar, sometimes involving several mooks. The seconds are Showdown at High Noon.
  • Boss Rush: In the Duel Mode the player faces all the bosses from the main game, minus Roscoe Bryant and plus Billy the Kid who isn't a boss, in showdowns.
  • Bounty Hunter: You play as one.
  • Bullet Time: Concentration Mode slows down time temporarily, allowing you to both aim more effectively at enemies and dodge incoming fire.
  • The Climax: The ending of the last level is a big gunfight against ghost doppelgangers of the game's bosses, followed by a 1 VS 1 bossfight against the very tough Sundance Kid, then eventually a mle trois duel between you, Sundance Kid, and Butch Cassidy.
  • Collection Sidequest: The Nuggets of Truth which unlock real historical facts about the people and places in the game.
  • Combat Pragmatist: During duels, drawing your gun early and shooting your opponent is an option, though it'll be considered a "Dishonorable Kill" and you get much less score for it.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Spanish coin that starts the whole mess appears to be a piece of the cursed Treasure of Juarez.
    • The story in his Nugget of Truth profile is that Bob Bryant was a member of Juarez's gang, which disbanded due to the events of the first game. That coin was most likely all that he got away with.
    • There's even a Nugget of Truth about Ray McCall, one of the protagonists of the first two games.
  • Cycle of Hurting: The more you're wounded, the more faded are the game's colours and graphics, making the enemies harder to spot. Usually, you regain full health after a couple of second if you reach cover, but in some instances (like the fight in the end of "Dances with Renegades", in which you're surrounded by enemies standing above you, while there's no cover for you), it's very difficult to regenerate your health, and good luck to spot the guys who are depleting your health...
  • Death Seeker/Leeroy Jenkins: At a moment in his tale, Silas lampshades that his tactics (the one he is describing in his story, anyway) were suicidal, but he didn't care about dying if it meant that he could kill a lot of outlaws.
  • Determinator: Silas brother's are murdered by three outlaws. As a result Silas becomes a bounty hunter and spends most of his live hunting them down. The majority of the legendary outlaws he gunned down? Silas either assumed they knew something about the whereabouts of one of his targets or they were just unlucky enough to stand in his way.
  • Dime Novel: Dwight is a great fan of this kind of books, where he learnt what he knows about the Far West and Silas.
  • Dodge the Bullet: A mechanic in-game. It's possible to dodge the bullet that would have possibly killed you, though this ability takes time to recharge after you use it. Enemies will also express their astonishment when they see this.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: The heartwarming Redemption ending ends the game on a cutscene. The Revenge ending, which is a lot bleaker, requires to win a final duel. It is somewhat downplayed, as said duel is a lot easier than the previous ones.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: The legendary weapons, unlocked by completing skill trees, are all very, very ornate. The only gun that doesn't get an upgrade is the Sawed-Off Rifle.
  • Elite Mooks: Shielders and shotgunners can take a couple more bullets than normal, and have their own health bar. A headshot still drops them instantly, though. Armored shotgunners can take several bullets before dropping, but there's only one or two of them in the entire game.
  • Enemy Mine: Silas joined Billy the Kid because Roscoe Bryant was with Billy the Kid's enemies.
  • Exploding Barrels: Some levels include red barrels containing powder, which can be used to help cleaning the area.
  • Expy: Silas Greaves is based on The Man with No Name. John Wesley Hardin bears more than a passing resemblance to Lee Van Cleef.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Silas wears a nice pair that somehow last for thirty years.
  • Fission Mailed: In the mine, during Silas' narration, he runs after his target by entering inside the mine's tunnels. After several minutes inside this maze, you find yourself in a disaster's chain culminating with Silas smashed by the fall of an undodgeable mine cart. Cue Silas telling something like: "... of course, it is what would have happened if I really took this way". Then, the level is rewinded, and Silas follows a more indirect path.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Of course Silas survived all what happened to him, since he is telling his story in a saloon! This is actually lampshaded by his narration in the scene when he runs after the burning fuse of the dynamite which would destroy the bridge he is standing one.
  • Framing Device: The idea behind the game is that Silas is telling stories about his past as a Bounty Hunter to the other patrons in a bar. However, our hero gets more and more drunk over the course of the game, and he starts exaggerating parts of his story, and eventually starts outright lying and making stuff up. He isn't quite as drunk as he makes himself out to be, though, and he has a reason to be lying. Interestingly, this actually affects the gameplay. Parts of the scenery and setting change as our hero points out things he didn't mention before, realizes that he isn't remembering what happened correctly, and, amusingly, when the other bar patrons misinterpret what he's saying or jump to conclusions about what happened next.

    G-L 
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The gameplay has taken a noticeable shift from down to earth open world fair to more of an arcade-y shoot em up that encourages you to go for the highscore with bombastic and extravagant gunfights. This neatly supports the Framing Device of what you're playing merely being a story narrated by Silas, who is either exaggerating the events to be more entertaining or make himself look better, or just blatantly making up tall tales.
    • Another example would be that the levels get progressively harder. The levels are set out with five to ten years between them, and Silas lampshades the fact that he isn't getting any younger, so all in all it makes a surprising amount of sense.
    • As is mentioned in-game, Emmett Dalton was shot 23 times leading up to his arrest and survived, making him a rare Real Life bullet sponge.
  • Gatling Good: A couple of bossfights are against a boss armed with a gatling. Also, there is a couple of occasions when you mow down mooks with a Gatling.
  • Ghost Town: The final level takes place in one, complete with ghost enemies! Earlier, there is a level set in a deserted half-sunken town (the place has been turned in a swamp).
  • Grenade Hot Potato: A perk allows to throw lit dynamite back to the sender.
  • Guns Akimbo: The first skill in the Gunslinger set allows you to dual wield revolvers. Another skill in the Trapper set allows for dual wielding sawed-off shotguns.
  • The Gunslinger: Silas can specialize in either dual-wielding, rifles or shotguns depending on the player's choice.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: By the end of the game Silas realizes that he isnt much better than the men hes hunting and probably has killed even more people. In the Redemption ending, he even tells that 1910!Bob seems to be a better man than Silas is after decades of his murderous revenge.
  • Heavily Armored Mook:
    • Early parts of the game have mooks hiding behind big wooden boards serving as improvised shields when they aren't shooting.
    • Jesse James' gang includes one or two shotgunners wearing makeshift iron armor (seemingly based on the suits worn by Ned Kelly's gang). It takes several bodyshots to kill them, but a good headshot or two will still take care of them.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Dwight.
  • High-Pressure Blood: A side effect of scoring a headshot.
  • Historical Person Punchline: Dwight is no one else than Dwight D. Eisenhower.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: You can kill enemies by blowing their thrown dynamite if the lit sticks are still close enough to them. The same result can be achieve if you shoot a dynamite tosser right in the dynamite he is carrying.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Ben refers to "Jim" as Jim Reed, even though Silas had only ever used his first name up until that point. Silas even points this out indirectly. This serves as one of many hints that Ben knows more about the 3 killers than would initially appear.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Silas is able to shoot dynamite sticks while they are in the air.
  • Ironic Echo: "I wont have it said I left you with nothing..."
  • It Will Never Catch On: At a moment during Silas' story (when he is inside a derelict steamer in the swamp, while chasing the Daltons), the audience begin chatting about the Titanic, which was being built. Steve expresses his doubts about such a big ship being able to float.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: In the very end of the game, you get to choose between Revenge or Redemption, i.e. whether to kill Roscoe "Bob" Bryant or forgiving him after thirty years of hunting him. Picking Revenge leads to the final Showdown at High Noon and a cutscene where Dwight and the other bar patrons stare in shock, while Redemption cues to an ending cutscene wich shows Silas returning the gold coin and giving some friendly advice to young Dwight, before walking of into the sunset.
  • Lemony Narrator: Silas will often comment on the situation and will even get impatient if the player waits too long. He'll also change the scene to more correctly fit how he remembers things.
  • Locomotive Level: The level with Jesse James takes place in a moving train which have been seized by the gang. Though the boss is on the front of the train, the example is double-subverted: the level starts somewhere in the middle of the train, then, after crossing a couple of wagons, Silas rewinds the action and, this time, you have to advance through the whole train.

    M-R 
  • Made of Iron: Curly Bill, Emmett Dalton, and the Sundance Kid are fought as traditional FPS bosses, requiring more than 3 dozen pistol shots to kill as they run around and shoot at you. This is Gameplay and Story Integration in the case of Emmett Dalton, who really did survive being shot 23 times.
  • Master of None: The Sixshooter. Intended to be the middle ground between the killing power of the Ranger and the rapid-fire Quickshooter, in practice using means getting neither the Ranger's near-guaranteed One Hit Kills nor the Quickshooter's combo-extending speed-reloads.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The entire Grey Wolf mission. There's several supernatural events that happen throughout it, and dreams that detail events that happen decades later into Silas' life. It's left ambiguous if Grey Wolf was really supernatural, and was warning Silas of what he might become, or if he was a part of Silas' imagination.
    • The ghosts in the ghost town. Were they actual ghosts, hallucinations (guilt-triggered?) that really happened to Silas, or just something he totally made up on the spot as a way of soul-searching after having really dipped into the whiskey/realizing the meaning of what Grey Wolf told him?
  • Mle Trois: The climax of the game is a three-way duel between Silas, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid. The latter are no longer friends.
  • More Dakka:
    • Several sections of the game feature Gatling Guns that the player can use. Some bosses also use these.
    • The quickshooter is a fast-fire revolver, designed for fast fire.
    • Akimbo Sawed-Off Shotguns with infinite shotgun ammo.
  • Mutual Kill: Can happen during a duel if you're unlucky.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the Nuggets Of Truth you can find tells the story of Ray Mccall, essentially detailing the plot of the original game in the series.
  • Narrative Backpedaling: The game is full of these. Even the very first Showdown at High Noon turns out to be an example of this. One great example is when Silas tells of how he found himself surrounded by Apaches. An audience member asks him what happened to the attacking cowboys he spoke of a moment ago, and Silas quickly corrects himself to saying that the cowboys attacked him in Apache style. At the same moment the gunslinging Indians the player is fighting are suddenly replaced by cowboys.
  • New Game+: Unlocked when you beat the game one time. The New Game + makes you play the story again but you retain your skills, the unique weapons unlocked, and the Nuggets of Truth already discovered; the difficulty can even be raised for the next round to keep it interesting. It also adds new Loading Screen tips, lampshading the later impact of events and Silas' running thoughts on the "present day" bar events, specifically on his build-up to the reveal.
  • Notice This:
    • Ammunitions, guns, and secrets are surrounded by some glowing stars.
    • During bullet time, enemies are glowing in red (while the surrounding area appears lighter).
    • There is a skill (from the Ranger skill tree) which gives a signal when you're near to a secret.
  • Ominous Fog: Covers the ghost town of the final level, especially in the cemetery.
  • Once More with Clarity:
    • After the first third of the game is completed, most missions start right as Silas catches up with the famous outlaw of each mission and dispatches them in heavy, stylistic ways. As soon as he does this, however, one of the bar patrons listening to his story will point out any inconsistencies, which then starts the mission over as it actually happened, often leading to anticlimactic confrontations and some of the outlaws surviving their wounds.
    • One part of the story is told twice more with "clarity", first by Ben(who was there), then by Dwight(who read about what Silas did), then by Silas(who was there). All three are mutually exclusive.
    • Also, the story relevant messages that pop up during loading screens change from your first playthrough to what they say during a new game plus. Mainly giving some insight into Silas' stories as they work as foreshadowing (for the Gray Wolf chapter) or how they relate to his suspicious that Ben the Bartender is actually Bob and the ways he tries to get him to confirm those suspicions.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The duels, for both Silas and his enemy. The first one who hit the other wins, but it's possible to dodge.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Silas only wounds most of the famous figures he ends up fighting throughout the game, so that they go on to die later on in the (often anticlimactic) manner recorded in history.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Silas suddenly stops his over the top, almost fantastical story of hunting Gray Wolf and goes on a determined, almost frightening reciting of an old poem on death. This is because he realizes at that exact moment (in retrospect to what Gray Wolf had said to him) that Ben/Bob is the person that Gray Wolf said will cause him to lose his soul if Silas kills him. From this point on, Silas begins to occasionally question his own motives as he narrates the story.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Part of the game's art style involves this, especially with full blast shotgun kills.
  • Pistol-Whipping: The mle attack doesn't use a tomahawk or a knife, but is a hit with the stock of the weapon you're wielding.
  • Post Final Boss: Old, retired, and having not been that much of a fighter in the first place, Roscoe "Bob" Bryant is hardly a challenging final duel. Killing him is really just to conclude the plot if you choose the "Revenge" path. The shootout with Sundance Kid and the subsequent three-way duel with him and Butch Cassidy were the real final boss fights.
  • Potty Emergency: During the part when Silas is chasing Jesse James, he interrupts the story to go to the toilets. Follows a slow-mo sequence in which the fictional Silas crosses several wagons devoided of enemies, while the audience is debatting whether the tales are true or not.
  • Press X to Not Die:
    • When you're about to be hit by a One-Hit Kill bullet (which is shown in slow-mo), you must dodge it by strafing left or right (the direction in which you must go isn't specified and must be guessed by observing the bullet's trajectory), and failing it means death.
    • There are some scripted sequences in which Silas shoots enemies in slow-mo through quick-time events, by pressing W-A-S-D when the right button is displayed. Failing the sequence triggers the One-Hit Kill bullet sequence mentioned above.
  • Punny Name: Silas Greaves grieves for his brothers.
  • Pyrrhic Victory/Vengeance Feels Empty: In the Revenge ending, Silas gets his revenge on Bob at long last, but admits that he has willingly sold his soul for the chance and considers himself hell bound, recognizing that he failed to heed Gray Wolf's warnings and advice to not succumb to the poison of his rage and is beyond redemption, having become no better then the men he sought to kill through his long life of death begetting more and more death.
  • Retired Outlaw: Ben, a.k.a. Roscoe "Bob" Bryant
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Destroying some scenery props (bottles, pumpkins, etc) grants a few experience points.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Refered by the Steam achievment gained with the Redemption ending.
  • RPG Elements: Killing enemies and finding secrets grant experience, which allows to gain skills (cf Skill Scores and Perks).

    S-Z 
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: One of the available one-handed gun. You can dualwield it if you have a specific perk.
  • Scenery Porn: The game does a damn good job at showing of the beauty of the American south west. Even highlighted in Gunfight at the Sawmill.
    Silas: I'm painting a Picture here. There was this Beautiful waterfall and a crystal clear stream that led to a verdant valley that was truly-
    Ben: Consider your picture painted. What Happend next?
  • Secret Test of Character: In the Redemption ending, Silas claims the reason he rambled on with his story in the first place was to see if Ben/Bob had really changed or not, and is implied that seeing as how the bartender didn't just gun him down as soon as it became obvious the bounty hunter knew the truth means there's still hope for Graves to move on from all the death and vengeance in much the same way.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty to classic western stories, in particular all the chapter titles reference famous western movies:
  • Showdown at High Noon: Most of the Wild West celebrities are dealt with in duels. The player has to keep the aiming cursor onto their opponent without it drifting off of them to gain focus, while moving their hand closer to the revolver for a faster draw. The duels can be won Honorably, by drawing after your opponent, or Dishonorably, by drawing after the heartbeat sound plays but before the enemy drawing first, with the latter awarding fewer points.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Silas apparently thinks highly about Bob Ollinger's double barrel, as it's the only weapon to get its own introductory cutscene. In-game, they suffer from lack of range and poor magazine capacity... Until you upgrade your skills completely, at which point they become the deadliest force in the game, capable of mowing down enemies in Concentration with auto-lock head shots, instant reloads, and a near endless ammo supply.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: The game features three independent (twin revolver cylinder-shaped) perk trees: one for Guns Akimbo, one for long-range sniping, and one for close range shooting. You gain experience points for stylish kills, which are then translated into Experience Levels, and you get to spend a skill point at each level. At the end of each "cylinder", you get access to one of the Legendary Weapons as a free bonus.
  • Stupid Crooks: During the Coffeyville levelnote , Silas lampshades how stupid it was for the Daltons to rob two banks in the same time, in the same town. Which is their hometown.
  • Tall Tale: The entire point of the game. The over-the-top violence so typical in First-Person Shooters is justified in-story by the manner how said story is presented by Silas, who is both The Narrator and The Protagonistnamely, as a Tall Tale to entertain random pub patrons.
  • To the Pain: How Silas takes revenge on his final nemesis. Eventually he realizes Ben is, in fact, Roscoe "Bob" Bryant, and once he does he basically spends the last third of the game fucking with him. The infamous "Oh Death" scene was instigated when he asks Ben if he's ever thought about death, a heavy bit of foreshadowing players will probably only realize the full implications of in retrospect or on a second play through.
  • Unique Enemy: There are only a handful of shotgunners and only one or two armored shotgunners in the game. They're tougher than regular mooks, but not so tough they could be considered a mini-boss or even a Giant Mook.
  • Unreliable Narrator: It's not clear how much of Silas' tales can be considered the truth. The way he gets more and more drunk and inconsistent as the tales go on doesn't instill much confidence, not that they were entirely believable from the beginning anyway. Even at the first cutscene, when questioned on how many of his stories are true, he answers back with "A few..."
  • Wanted Poster: Several of them are shown in the opening screen of the game (the one displayed before you see the main menu), for Billy the Kid and several of the bosses.
  • Worf Had the Flu: It's repeatedly mentioned that John Wesley Hardin was widely considered the fastest gunslinger who had ever lived, alongside Wild Bill Hickok. Silas admits he was only able to defeat Hardin because the latter was drunk off his ass at the time. Indeed, in the duel itself you're not really expected to outdraw Hardin, but are instead given the ability to lean left and right to dodge his bullets.