Dead End Junction is a Wild West drama centered around our protagonist Josette, a young orphaned cowgirl that lives in the peaceful town of Cow Stone Bell. She lives with her uncle Jobs, a veteran from a brutal war between the West and East 20 years ago. Josette commonly called Jo is often called a tomboy for her love of shooting things and assertive attitude. Seemingly her only friend is a young girl named Flannel who is well mannered, rich and ladylike yet is always found by Jo’s side. It takes quite some time before unforeseen events cause Jo to leave behind her peaceful town and venture into the Wild West.
One of the first things you’ll likely notice about the game is its gorgeous artstyle, very similar to that of a comic book. It really helps to make this title stand out and is quite a joy to look at however it is stuck in the 4:3 ratio so most of your monitor will be taken up by black borders. All of the story comes from text since there is no voice acting and minus the occasional minor error is a well done translation. Before going further into the review it is important to mention that this is not solely focused on the Western theme, there is an equal amount of fantasy in it such as elves and knights.
The first location that Jo travels to on her quest to make it to the big city is a tribe of creatures known as the Furro. They are essentially Native Americans in all but name and the fact that they are now drawn as dogs. I can see people getting bothered by that though it is unlikely to be meant as derogatory, especially considering its heavy fantasy theme after a few hours. With that out of the way, the Furro are humanoid creatures that can speak with animals and spirits alike. They are a nomadic race and are mostly inclusive when it comes to dealing with humans however after helping out in the war 20 years ago they are generally more accepted.
It is here where Jo meets her first companion, a young Furro girl named Inaho who will serve as her guide across the treacherous landscape leading towards the capital. She is a cold, secular girl but Jo is rather talented at getting people to warm up to her. Contrary to what appears to be a gritty looking artstyle, Dead End Junction is similar to a children’s show with its tone. Eventually the party will be composed of Jo who is a tomboy, Inaho who is a dog creature and Bizkit who appears to be a cross dresser yet they don’t run into any trouble in these supposedly dangerous lands for standing out so much. It is the type of story where the heroes rush into something without planning and come out perfectly fine.
There is nothing wrong with that but for an older audience seeing the villain repeatedly let them live for no particular reason and the lack of any real danger causes it to get a tad boring. It does not have any choices to pick or different endings either, instead opting to put all their effort into their unique story split into 4 in-game episodes. While it might not be the most thrilling of tales it is still always a blast to see the cheeky main characters interacting with one another without a single care in the world. It’s weird mix of two very different themes help keep it interesting as well. It feels like a fever dream about Cowboys and Wizards where they go from a Western theme to you half expecting Frodo to pop up any minute now.
Then there is the low price of Dead End Junction. You will be getting a decent amount of game time for 9 dollars. It lasted me around 11 hours give or take and did not outstay its welcome. There is no reason to replay it however and it does set the story up for a second game. The music featured here is mostly re-imagined versions of American Classics such as Home On The Range though it is ultimately rather forgettable while the sound effects such as gunshots are sub-par. Ultimately Dead End Junction is an enjoyable Visual Novel with plenty to differentiate it from anything else out there. Go in expecting an adventure designed for children without any of the harsh realities of the Wild West and you will find a ton to love.