In a video posted by Ubisoft, Call of Juarez series writer and voice director Haris Orkin discusses the development of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and how its narrative tricks came from classic western traditions.
The game's narrative premise — that it was being told by protagonist Silas Greaves, who was prone to exaggerating, revising or flat-out making up details — came as a result of wanting a fully-narrated game like Bastion. "I thought that idea was pretty brilliant," says Orkin, a western history buff, "and that mirrored exactly how the history of the Wild West came to be written in the first place; how the legends became bigger-than-life characters created to entertain the masses." What is and isn't true in Greaves' tales became a major theme in the game.
The developers knew they wanted to have the main character brush elbows with larger-than-life western figures like Jesse James, and Orkin says they pulled inspiration from classic western films like Little Big Man (1970) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). A quote from the latter film informed the entire theme of the game: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
The character of Greaves was developed as a bounty hunter because that gave him an excuse to head after the infamous outlaws of the Wild West, says Orkin. Some of the game's locations didn't match up with where the actual gangs operated in reality, he says, but it fit with Greaves' unreliable narration all the same.
At one point, the team decided that Greaves should sing a song during one of the levels, and all offered ideas of songs in the public domain. The developers eventually decided on classic dirge "O Death," though Orkin's own choice ended up being a central theme in Bioshock Infinite.
In our official review, Polygon gave Gunslinger a 9 out of 10, saying that it "[captured] the excitement of the spaghetti western."