I just finished the game (early access version) ... and well, how shall I put it? It was definitely one of the best VNs I've ever played. Everything was so well worked out. The characters, the story, the setting, the social issues, the writing style, the choice of music, and the art ... That's why I decided to write my impressions in more detail. However, it may contain SPOILERS so please be aware of this before reading any further.
Let's start with the setting. It was the first thing I noticed and a nice change from the usual (fantasy or contemporary) settings we often see in VNs. It contained all the important aspects that I associate with the wild western genre. Sheriffs, cowboys, horses, trains, bounty hunters, bandits and so on ... But it never felt unrealistic or over the top. I'm not an expert on this, of course, but I think the natives were portrayed well too. I also like the depiction of Golder's Rock and the surrounding prairie. You really felt like you were at the end of nowhere in an insignificant small town far from civilization, which made the murder mystery all the more fascinating.
What I like most about the murder case is that the story unfolds differently depending on the course you take. You don't have to worry about knowing all about it after you've completed your first character route. Each route has a different approach and explanation of what really happened, and there are no re-used scenes or sentences. I also like the idea that there are several ways to get to certain routes. So you usually don't have to make a decision for a particular character right away.
The characters are great too. Everyone has their own personality, motivation, background and problems. There is no such thing as Mister Perfect. And Lee is truly an adorable protagonist. Sure, he has his own burdens, but he is ready to overcome them to grow as a human being. I also like how normal he feels as a character. In some VNs the characters are a bit over the top with certain aspects of their personality. Lee, on the other hand, seems to be a normal guy from a normal world with normal people. But that doesn't mean he's boring. He has a very complex and multi-dimensional personality, just like the other characters in this game. Just like real humans.
Parts of the game deal with serious topics like illness, alcoholism, suicide or homophobia, which I personally love very much. Even some of the happy endings are bittersweet in some aspects, though of course they're still satisfying outcomes. I just wish there were after-stories showing what happened to Lee and his love interests. I'd also like to know if Lee an Bill will fall in love with each other after a few years have passed. There was definitely some (sexual) tension between these characters and I can't stop thinking about them.
Even though the soundtrack isn't original, I still like the music because it goes very well with the western setting. I also like the art, although the CGs could be a little more uniform. Lee, for example, sometimes has beard stubble and sometimes he doesn't. He also appears more feminine in some CGs and more masculine in others. Apart from this, I like his rough and slightly out of shape look, though. It fits well with his drifter lifestyle. Hollis' sprites look a little different from those of the other characters and Bill's sprites from the front could be a bit cleaner. But that's just a minor complaint. Overall, I like the art style very much. Same goes for the writing style. The way people talk to each other with all the double negatives has its own unique charm and fits well to the historic setting. There were a few typos and related bugs that I noticed, but they did't bother me much.
Now that I've completed all of the routes (+ the secret Dalton ending) I'm a bit sad because I love this game so much and I don't want it to end. However, I hope this wasn't the last I heard from the characters.
Thanks to the developers for this great game! I'm sure it wasn't the last time I played it. : )