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Video Game / Dust: A Tale of the Wired West

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"Five days. One town. No law."

Dust: A Tale of the Wired West is a 1995 Wild West Adventure Game created by Cyberflix similar to (and taking place in the same universe as) Titanic: Adventure Out of Time from the same company which employed the same game engine.

The story takes place in May 1882. The player takes the role of a man only known as "The Stranger" who has to escape trough the desert fleeing from a group of outlaws led by "The Kid". He ends up in the small town of Diamondback in the deserts of New Mexico. The story takes place over five days and the player has to talk to the numerous inhabitants of the city, dig deep into its many mysteries and secrets, and prepare for another confrontation with The Kid and his gang.

Most of the game is presented in a Myst-like first-person Point-and-Click Game-perspective. However it is unique in also using keyboard based movement: a unique novelty for adventure games the time. It also includes other unique mechanics namely shooter based sections that are borderline First-Person Shooter.


Tropes used in this game:

  • The Alcoholic: Though not immediately apparent, it turns out that Chet Flippo loves drinking alcohol to the point he definitely can be a verified example of this trope. He'll even behave in concordance with this trope when you meet him at the Hard Drive saloon late in the game.
    • This character flaw is very helpful to beating the game and getting some more backstory. You can buy him a drink at the Hard Drive saloon when you meet him later in the game but also give him a sip from a full bottle of rotgut as Mrs. Macintosh hints at to get helpful information that can't be attained through normal dialogue with him.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The first puzzle you must immediately solve is getting past a big, angry dog blocking your way into Diamondback. Once you pick up a nearby Stock Femur Bone and give it to the dog it has the textbook effect of turning it into a Big Friendly Dog so you can enter.
  • Asian Store-Owner: Mr. Help (yes, that's his name), who offers hints if the player gets stuck and who is, at least to begin with, rather rude to the Stranger.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Mr. Radisson Bloodstone-Hayes.
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  • The Bartender: Gus is a pure, undiluted model of this trope in action.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Three of the game's possible endings result in this if you opt to share the gold with Marie, Nate and Cosimo in their business ventures. Each ends with the Stranger showing great remorse for not giving back the treasure to the Yunni tribe as he was urged to by Sonoma.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Players have the opportunity to do this on a few occasions during the game via some specific dialogue choices when talking with characters. A good example of this is being able to bluntly mention the movie Dances with Wolves when talking with Mayor Cosimo.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: The Hard Drive saloon enforces a policy of zero tolerance for cheaters. This isn't a lie either as getting caught cheating when playing poker results in death as soon as the game is over.
  • Corrupt Politician: Mayor Cosimo P. Macintosh is portrayed as this. You'll hear this a lot when talking with townsfolk during the beginning sections of the game. However, it's firmly established as a fact when he immediately tries to get the Stranger to work as a hired thug on tasks to benefit his own interests.
  • Creepy Mortician: Hiram Sidewinder. He is the Played for Laughs variant of this trope, though, due to his penchant for some admittedly amusing Black Comedy.
  • Dying Town: As players will find out, Diamondback, though once considered quite a vibrant town, has turned into this due to its rampant lawlessness and corruption.
  • Funny Foreigner: Buick Rivera is a pretty blatant French variant of this trope complete with a Maurice Chevalier Accent.
  • Game Within a Game: There are people in town with whom you can play blackjack, poker or checkers. There is also a shooting range.
  • Greed: The mysterious guardian in the Devil's Breath Mine reveals this is why the Yunni Tribe is in shambles. Spanish Conquistadors not only enslaved but massacred many of its members simply to possess the treasures of the region which they subsequently hid in the mine.
    • This trope is also the reason Radisson Bloodstone-Hayes wants the treasure too and, unsurprisingly, is content with killing too along with some manipulation.
  • The Gunslinger
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: In the very beginning of the game, after the dog puzzle mentioned previously, Help offers to help you understand how to play the game. If you accept his offer, he'll briefly go to Breaking the Fourth Wall to explain how to play the game. This only happens once though, and after this instance he won't do it again.
  • High-Voltage Death: Radisson Bloodstone-Hayes is offed this way after the Stranger programs the ancient Yunni device to kill him as opposed to opening the portal back to Diamondback as he expects him to.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Oona reveals this is what's happened in the final scene to Mayor Cosimo P. Macintosh. This happens due to Cosimo giving much of his family fortune to both Radisson Bloodstone-Hayes to acquire the Devil's Breath Gold mine for his own selfish gain. In doing so he's brought himself and his family to borderline poverty. It's why he asks the Stranger to go into business with him thus setting up one of five possible endings.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Sophie undeniably shows off this trope whenever she sings which is quite an ear jarring experience each time.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: Watson, the town chemist, runs his pharmacy on this policy and is not hesitant to admit that he knows most of the drugs he sells are poison. Unsurprisingly his business doesn't get much money and even the Stranger bluntly tells him though Watson isn't affected in the least.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Miss Oona Canute and Ruby O'Dowdle.
  • Hunter Trapper: Mountain Laurel's the definitive showcase of this trope.
  • Informal Eulogy: You'll get this from the narrator whenever you die.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Subverted. Cosimo's latest buisness venture and he wants you to co-invest: "Lead-In-Paint!". But eventually, things change, but not until Cosimo and his contemporaries are safely dead.
  • Knowledge Broker: Buick Rivera has quite the monopoly on knowing about what goes on in the town. During various parts of the game, you can get various helpful information by paying him for some of that knowledge.
    • He'll also at one point turn this knowledge against you when you try taking an important book regarding the Yunni Tribe from Oona Canute's room. As soon as you do, Buick will appear to Blackmail $50 out of you which, if you don't have or refuse to pay, is an automatic game over.
  • Magical Native American: The mysterious and nameless guardian of the Devil's Breath Gold Mine.
    • Sonoma is also heavily implied to embody this trope too. This is evidenced by Sonoma appearing then quickly disappearing again should players wait around the fountain area of the abandoned mission long enough if her character model isn't visibly standing around.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Radisson Bloodstone-Hayes does quite a bit of this to qualify for this trope. He admits during the game's final scene in the mine to manipulating Marie Macintosh's feeling so he becomes engaged to her. He does this as a way to not only gain favor with the mayor but to be put into a good position to manipulate him for money. He gets that by getting the mayor into investing towards locating and buying the Devil's Breath Mine due it to being full of pyrite. As he non-chalantly admits, this was yet another lie he made up specifically to fill his own pockets with the mayor's money but finding the Devil's Breath Mine to take its treasure.
  • The Many Deaths of You: It's the wild west after all. If someone with a gun (that is, most people) doesn't get you first, some of the local venomous fauna probably will.
  • Miss Kitty: Miss Oona Canute.
  • Multiple Endings: There are a total of five of these. Unlike other games with branching stories, these are solely determined by a decision made at the end. Four of them are narrated epilogues with still images, explaining what happened to the Stranger and whoever was involved in his decision, and the fifth is a simple Off-into-the-Distance Ending with everyone waving goodbye.
  • No Name Given: For much of the game the protagonist is only referred to as "Stranger" and later on as "Sheriff" Although, Oona calls the protagonist "Johnny".
    • This trope is finally subverted though during the game's final act. The protagonist's birth name is revealed to be "Ahote" by the mysterious guardian of the Devil's Breath Mine.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: One of the game's five endings employs this old hat western trope. You get it by choosing to leave town with the Yunni gold.
  • Opening Narration: The game and every chapter starts with a monologue from the anonymous Narrator whose character never appears in the game physically.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Belcher brothers really don't like Chinese people. The Stranger inevitably has to confront them when they try to burn down the local Chinese owned store.
    • It's also possible to meet Cobb early on before this event. If you do, he'll reveal he's not a fan of Native Americans either by insulting the rumors about you being part Native American. Though, as you later find out these aren't rumors as you were born into the Yunni tribe.
    • The Kid also showcases this when he tries to get the Stranger off balance by mocking him for his mixed ancestry, too.
  • Practical Currency: As was a historically accurate trope during the actual days of the wild west, people you meet during the game will accept practical items instead of money. In fact, for most of the game, you'll have to pay with practical items instead of money to advance the story.
    • Other times you can resort to practical currency as an alternative solution. An early example of this involves the ring Help gives you early on. You can actually save some hassle later on. You do this by giving it to Miss Oona Canute to get upstairs rather than paying her money. Doing this also has the bonus of avoiding Sophie stealing it from you and later demanding you pay $75 to get it back from her so you can help Jackalope Jones appease Mountain Laurel.
  • Product Placement: Through some humorous artistic license, players in a section of Help's store can find boxes for three other Cyberflix games on display: Jump Raven, Lunicus and Skull Cracker.
    • Late in the game, Help acknowledges them saying he keeps finding them out in the desert. Though he doesn't know what they are, he says that that they're big sellers.
  • Professional Gambler: Hirotedus Mezamee is a textbook example of this.
  • Rancher: Nate Trotter. The Stranger can also become one as well if he chooses to invest the Yunni treasure with him in one of the game's five endings.
  • Schoolmarm: Sonama embodies this trope but with a twist: she is a Native American as well, which is something quite uncommon in fictional westerns like this game.
  • Shout-Out: The town doctor's name is Hillary Rodham and is even modeled to look, sound and sometimes act like her. If you pause long enough during a dialogue with her she'll say you're procrastinating just like Bill.
    • Mr. Chet Flippo, who is the owner of Diamondback's only newspaper, is another historical shout out to the famous editor-in chief of Rolling Stone magazine. And unlike the former, he is actually PLAYED by the real Chet Flippo.
  • Showdown at High Noon
  • Small Town Boredom: The Mayor's daughter Marie Macintosh *really* hates her hometown.
  • Someday This Will Come in Handy: By talking with townsfolk and listening into their conversations with one another, players should always pay attention to information that appears unimportant. Much of it is in fact very cleverly information needed to beat the game.
    • The most important pieces of apparently trivial information involve The Kid. You can use the information to figure out what insults to use on him before you have a gun duel with him. This makes it much easier to beat him.
  • Talking Through Technique: The Piano Player at the Saloon, Isao, only talks through his piano playing.
  • The Trope Kid: The Kid, one of the game's two main Big Bads.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: There are basically two main story-lines in Dust, the first concerning the upcoming confrontation between the Stranger and the Kid. The second is the Stranger's involvement in the quest for the mysterious Devil's Breath Mine.
  • Vision Quest
  • The Voice: Fat Maizie. While mentioned somewhat often, you can only interact with her by knocking on her door at the saloon and hearing her voice on the other side. You never see her face, or have any idea of what she looks like.
  • The Wild West
  • You Fight Like a Cow: The stranger and the Kid resort to this kind of verbal joust during their final confrontation. If the player can deliver the right insults to the Kid then it'll make the subsequent duel much easier.