Don’t get me wrong, Red Dead Redemption II and Gun are fun and all. I certainly enjoyed my time with them, and I even still play Red Dead Online. But Call of Jaurez: Gunslinger, perhaps a better cowboy game than both of them (and most others), is now free on Steam for a limited time. And if you love a good ol’ fashioned cowboy shooter and/or unreliable narrators, then you should pick it up while it costs 0 bucks.
Don’t let the Call of Juarez branding scare you away from trying this western shooter. While the rest of the series is (to borrow a phrase as old as the Wild West itself) a mixed bag, Gunslinger easily stands far above all of them with perhaps one of the best examples of an unreliable narrator in a video game. The game’s story is told via flashbacks that are narrated by an older gunslinger who often gets the facts wrong or changes things up on the fly. So you might be fighting a bunch of Apache warriors when one of the people listening to the narrator reminds him that he said cowboys attacked, so he changes his story and the game follows suit, swapping out the enemies too. It’s all done with a slick comic book-like style that still holds up nearly eight years after it was released in 2013.
Gunslinger also isn’t too long. This is easily a game that most players can knock out in a single Sunday afternoon, making it perfect for squeezing in between some of the bigger, open-world games released in the last few months. But while it might be short, it packs a lot of action in its condensed runtime, not to mention a full skill tree and some other neat mechanics. For example, you sometimes get to dodge bullets. Other times you square off against bosses via a satisfying dueling system.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is currently free on Steam as part of publisher and developer Techland’s 30th anniversary. But the deal is only for a limited time. Come December 14 it rides off into the sunset.
If you don’t want to shoot cowboys and ride stagecoaches, but still want a free game set in the past, go check out Anno 1404, which is currently free via Ubisoft’s digital store. This is the remastered version of the classic city builder, complete with fancy-looking graphics and 4K monitor support. It’s also free until December 14.