TheIndieJar: The Real Texas Review
There are times when you see some things and they just don’t make sense. The Real Texas starts you as a cowboy going on holiday to England and immediately sends you to another dimension. This dimension, a kind of purgatory, has a town called Strange Texas in it. People are stuck here from all over history and need your help.
Once you have found the portal to Strange, chatting with the witch that lives in the cave next to it will introduce you to the world and give you your first quests. The quest system is very simple and relies on you to remember what you have to be doing and where. Nothing in the game will keep track of this for you so I recommend a pen and paper if you don’t want to constantly talk to the quest givers for reminders. This works really well to keep you invested in the characters and their stories. If you do have to go back to chat with people though there is a great addition to the conversation system – a text parser allows you to put in key words and skip straight to the bit you’re interested in. Occasionally there will be a word you can put in to get special conversations, but they are few and far between and quite hard to find.
The puzzles and mysteries are solved by a mix of exploration and memory; the game will give you some clues but not much else. This is most apparent at the start where you are pretty much thrown into it without any guide. This lack of motive really jerked me when the witch asked me to raid a bandit cave and save a wizard because it was assumed I was a hero. I wasn’t and didn’t feel like one, I was just a really confused cowboy in a different dimension. If you feel the same way at this point then just finish the first two quests and your view will completely change. After that the plot evolves into a bizarre and intriguing mess of reality bending weirdness. It’s great!
The puzzles are divided between dungeons that have unique elements in them and require lots of careful thinking. They are super hard and I got stuck on a couple of them. A useful tip is to go exploring somewhere else when you get stuck on one thing, there may well be an item or hint that lets you progress. That’s just the main quest though and there are loads of secrets and side quests that yield awesome loot and extra depth to the world. I know that there were at least two I couldn’t finish so I’m eager to start the game over to retry.
Exploration is this game’s strong point because of it’s quest system and the area based map. Remember the old Zelda games like Link to the Past where you would walk to the edge of an area and the screen would move across to a new place? Its the same here, and it makes searching places interesting because every now and then you glimpse a chest or switch you want to get to and it leads to a treasure hunt to find the route to it. This may involve going to a completely different part of the map to find a key or item that gets you through a door.
If you aren’t puzzling then there’s combat too – shooting slimes and lizards. Different enemies are weak to specific weapons so fighting can be easy. Other times it’s really hard because if you get swarmed or hit by a strong enemy there is little you can do apart from die. To fire you have to stand in one place and aim; this is a little clunky because the shooting isn’t easy when all the enemies like to get up close to attack.
The look of the game reminds me of Animal Crossing – simple shapes and bright colour schemes. The characters however are very basic and are all rectangular cubes; to be honest it looks quite good and fits well with the rest of the game. All of the characterisation is done through dialogue which is handy because there’s plenty of chatting so the animation of the people isn’t a problem. The soundtrack fits well into the game and has some really cool melodies using lots of electronic instrument samples; a couple of the tunes remind me of Chrono Trigger’s OST.
The strongest themes within the game are money and metaphysics. There are a lot of odd things going on in Strange that don’t ever make much sense; you will meet aliens, a wizard (that you have to wrestle) and a sentient compost heap amongst others. After a while I noticed that bits of the real world and other places bleed into Purgatory. For example there was an electric door surrounded by concrete flooring in the middle of a cave. There are lots of indicators that the problems in the town of Strange are caused by money – even space and time tax you when you die. There are loads of unexplained goings on so interesting questions are left for you to answer yourself. Are there other dimensions? What is this key for?
This game has the marks of someone who misses games from the old school, and has made his own to bring them into the modern age. It’s light-hearted humour permeates the whole of the game and if the weird things you find don’t get explained, I get the feeling that there is some logic to them, even if it is unique to Calvin French (the designer). Plenty of secrets, intriguing people and events make this the most refreshing game I’ve played this year.
Awesomely strange story
Lots of secrets and cool loot
Light hearted humour
It’s fun to explore
A few minor bugs
You will get stuck but don’t loose hope!
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