Lookouts is a visual novel Western adventure where you play as a one armed wolf scout for a notorious gang. The 2022 Ursa Major nominated game is available to play in browser, or pay what you want to download at itch.io. It features art by Coldoggo, music by Jamie, and ParanoidHark composing the story and programming.
The art seems to take inspiration from Northwest Indigenous styling to form simple and effective character silhouettes for use in the story. The form not only lends itself well to the Western format, it makes the artstyle instantly recognizable and stand out from its other visual novel peers.
The story is split into a simple three act structure. As far as gameplay goes, the story is linear with some minigames and very sparse and inconsequential choices to start. It is not until the third act during the final conflict where you will make choices that do have an impact on the resolution. However, I think this makes for a better experience for the player, while keeping the programming and implementation reasonable for a one person team. By keeping the most impactful choices until near the end, you can more readily play the final conflict of the game without having to reread or go through the first two acts just to get to experience the differing outcomes.
The theme of the story is sort of a mixture of Romeo and Juliet with gay cowboys. Your nameable character (Robin by default) is sent out to investigate rumors of gold in a nearby town by your wolf gang. But as it turns out a rival gang of carnivorous birds also has its eyes on the prize, as you find their own scout on the road named Joseph. The story follows the two lookouts as they set out to discover what treasure awaits in the town, and what happens when they find something far more valuable and precious as a result.
I believe many furries will find the story well worth the approximately 5 hour run time. The material does pay homage to its setting, giving the town and characters a sense of history. It makes references to real world elements of the time period it portrays. In that essence, the late Fred Patten would note this is a zipper-back story. However, in spite of it being animal stand-ins for people, the story is charming with elements of romance, conflict, and looking for a place to belong. I’m glad this one got nominated for the Ursa’s and that it got the attention it needed so that people recommended it to play for my channel.