Westward is a real-time strategy game similar to the Settlers series and the more recent Virtual Villagers. The player must build and maintain a wild west town, and perform certain tasks to progress. Some of these include finding lost treasures, gun-fighting desperadoes and blowing up obstacles with dynamite.
All the actions are performed by clicking and holding the mouse button over a character or a group of characters, and dragging a line of dots to a place or object in the terrain. When the end of the line is over a collectable object, the cursor changes to a purse. When it is over a building with housing facilities or a job opportunity, it changes to either a house icon or an icon of shaking hands. Releasing the button makes the character follow the line path to the objective and perform the action.
Certain characters, like the Sheriff and gunslingers, have to be hired at their respective buildings, but most settlers arrive at the city spontaneously as soon as the city population limit increases.
Each citizen and building consume a fixed amount of resources like food, wood and gold. Buildings also create resources, and need employees to function. Some of the characters' status is indicated by icons floating over their heads. A food icon, for example, shows that the character is hungry.
The city is afflicted by random disasters. Cyclones damage the buildings, droughts and famine diminish productivity, and an insufficient number of outhouses can produce an outbreak of plague.
Combat follows the same interface of the other actions. The dotted line is dragged from a combat character or a group of them, and the cursor changes to a firing pistol when it's over an enemy.
There are side-missions within each level. Usually a character comes bringing news or a request for help. Clicking "okay" on the dialog box loads a separate level. Once it is completed, the game returns to the main city.