Lone McLonegan : A Western Adventure harks back to a past that should have stayed there.
Developer: Sonomio Games
Publisher: Flynn’s Arcade
Release date: 3 Nov, 2021
I live in an area of the western United States that was geographically part of the “Wild West”, so I always find the mythology of the “Wild West” fascinating, particularly since the reality was, of course, quite different. In many ways, Lone McLonegan : A Western Adventure hits the right notes for its “Wild West” setting, but unfortunately it also heavily incorporates some aspects of the “Wild West” mythology that are better left out of contemporary fiction. The developers clearly aimed to emulate the beloved Monkey Island franchise, but the game falls short of reaching that caliber in some significant ways.
Lone McLonegan, the eponymous character, has just been unseated as “The Most Wanted Outlaw in the Wild West” by Bragg Badass, and he sets out to reclaim that title. Along the way, he’ll frequently break the fourth wall, and Easter egg references abound among humorous moments openly inspired by the Monkey Island series. Unfortunately, there is at least one part where animal cruelty is played for laughs, and the decision to include stereotypes of indigenous peoples and a white savior narrative also makes many of the jokes fall flat. The developers are from Spain, which may explain this choice, and some players may not mind generic storytelling that plays into oversimplified cultural preconceptions.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Lone McLonegan : A Western Adventure has full controller support, but I played with the mouse and keyboard more traditional to point-and-click games. Unfortunately, it seems as though perhaps too much focus was placed on the controller experience as the mouse-and-keyboard controls are unwieldy and counterintuitive. I repeatedly found myself pressing the wrong button for what I was trying to accomplish. The map must be used through the inventory rather than being a separate function, which I found increasingly cumbersome as the amount of locations on the map and the number of items in the inventory increased. There is also no way to increase walking speed or jump to the edge of a scene, which can really be a drag when traversing the multiple sections of each location. For example, the player will always jump to the front gate of Oldewell when using the map, but Oldewell has more than 20 sections that must be walked through multiple times during the game.
The main issue with Lone McLonegan : A Western Adventure, however, is poorly-designed puzzles. Puzzle solutions range from Moon Logic to Guide Dang It! This is particularly unfortunate considering that the game has no hint system to help bridge the gaps created by obtuse logic and missing clues. There are a few puzzles requiring unnecessarily complicated solutions that the game effectively describes as ‘more fun this way’ in its many fourth wall breaks. Probably one of the worst though is the puzzle that requires the player to perform an action that in the real world would definitely result in the death of an animal, although in the game the animal in question is unharmed.
Art Style and Graphics
The game’s art style utilizes fabric textures in a visually interesting way. Unfortunately, the dialogue text frequently covers up the scenes, which is immersion-breaking and disappointing. Many of the characters have black eyes that make them look rather creepy and more like they belong in a science fiction setting, while other characters end up as racial caricatures instead. The “Indian Village” uses a hodge-podge of imagery from indigenous peoples in vastly different locales rather than any particular nation that exists in reality. For example, totem poles are from Northwest Coast peoples while tipis are from Great Plains peoples.
Sound and Music
Lone McLonegan : A Western Adventure has no voice acting, but its music is inarguably the best feature of the game (although that isn’t saying much). Many tracks utilize twangy folk instruments themed as expected for a Western, although there are some tracks that are unusual and feel out of place. For example, a Gregorian chant plays at one point. The sound effects are sometimes interesting (e.g., the sounds that you hear behind the closed door at the undertaker bring to mind a horror comedy).
Lone McLonegan : A Western Adventure has 14 possible Steam achievements. The game also has the player collect Sheriff Stars, but it’s unclear to me whether that is connected to an achievement or if there’s some sort of bonus for collecting them all. I’m also not sure if they don’t show up in the collection wall on the loading screen until the game has been completed or if there’s a bug, since I’ve definitely found several of the stars in the game.
Although Lone McLonegan : A Western Adventure technically offers enough content for the price ($9.99 at the time of review), I find myself leaning more in the thumbs down rather than the thumbs up direction. Frankly, I’m struggling to finish the game between what I find an uninteresting narrative and not wanting to continually reference a walkthrough for the convoluted puzzles, so this is not the 2021 point-and-click game that I would recommend to people. However, some players may find the game’s charms weighing more heavily in its favor, and if so, I heartily wish them enjoyment! If I’m lucky, the developers will implement some quality of life features eventually to make 100% achievements not as much of a slog.