Behind the backdrop of a fiery, setting sun, two cowboys meet. Both are stoic, though each knows only one will be able to leave this standoff alive. No words are exchanged, the cowboys giving the other a challenging appraisal instead. They itch to cock their weapon first, fingers readied. But they both know moving too soon could mean death just as easily as moving too slow. In the moment before winning and losing—life and death—time slows. Finally, the coyboys take aim. One throws down a fist, the other (fatally) slashes with a flat hand.
If there’s anything missing from our image of the rough and tumbling wild west, it’s the zero sum game of rock-paper-scissors. Yet, as the go-to game to decide who must take the trash out, rock-paper-scissors might not seem hardcore enough for the Western setting. But think about it: you’ve got all the tension of a draw, along with the high stakes, and mixture of luck and psychology needed to win.
BIZM’s Ludum Dare entry The Rock the Paper and the Scissors adapts the hand game into a Western rhythm-off. As Lefty the bounty hunter, you must face off against rogue bandits atop a train car, your draws moving in time with the scintillating twang of the guitar riffs. But it isn’t always as easy as Two Finger Tim’s predictable draws (scissors are kinda his default at all times). Most bandits switch up their hand positions, some even throwing down two hands, others regaining points with a special “bandit shout.”
It’s a perfect blend of pattern-recognition and timed attacks, rendering your preferred childhood decision-making process a deadly dance. As a jam game created in the span of a weekend, The Rock the Paper and the Scissors is impressively polished and well-executed, which is why the team has announced they’ll be expanding the game into a commercial product.
Pulling off any move feels like you instantly become Clint Eastwood’s cigar-smoking cowboy in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And why shouldn’t you feel like a grizzled, side-smirking badass? You just vaporized some of the most lethal hands in all of the wild west. And you’ve got the smoking fingertips to prove it.
You can play The Rock the Paper and the Scissors on PC, Mac, and Linux.