I can't believe this remarkable game is nearly ten years old. It seems like only yesterday, the original version was one of my first e-book purchases. Now the Revenged version is available, and for only $10. This is one of the best deals on the site, and one of the best games on the site.
Dust Devils is a Western game, with a relatively simple poker-hand resolution. But the important thing about the game is the Devil mechanic.
Each character has a Devil that both drives them onward and torments them: it can be their past as a bandit and assassin, it can be whiskey, it can be resentment over broken promises to their tribe, it can be family trouble or money trouble, but whatever it is, the game gives it mechanical weight. And most importantly, as your character struggles in their situations, the Devil helps them - after all, in the bleak Western style that Dust Devils recreates, it's the grit and determination of the character that matters, not necessarily their talent. Then as the Devil helps your character, you are also eventually driven into the endgame, a showdown between the worst your Devil has to offer and your character's determination. You will eventually have to face your worst fears, your worst flaws, in this game, and you might very well fail to overcome them.
Dust Devils strikes a middle ground between short-form story games and interminable play-this-game-forever campaigns. There are options for picking up a new Devil after you resolve the first, and continuing the play the same character, but really, this game is about the most important conflict in your character's life, and what it means for the frontier.
Add-ons give options for Le Carre-esque espionage, another ideal area for this game, since in this bleak form of espionage novel, there are no James Bond heroics - there may be only one shot fired in the whole novel, and it's a suicide. In the end, the game puts values like loyalty and justice to the test. It really is like nothing else out there. I have played it many times with many different players - nobody has walked away from it without having a new appreciation for what can be accomplished with the role-playing game form.
Dust Devils ought to be required reading for the hobby. Get started.
[5 of 5 Stars!]