Title: World to the West
Platform: PC , PS4, Xbox One, Wii U
Developer: Rain Games
Publisher: Rain Games
Release date: Xbox One, PS4 and PC (out now), Wii U (coming soon)
Price: £15/ $20 (PC) £20/$25 (consoles)
TL;DR: A flawed but enjoyable little puzzle game.
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I started playing World to the West without knowing exactly what I was getting myself into. I had heard talk that it was a spiritual successor to Teslagrad, a side scrolling puzzle platformer, but that was about it. I came into the game with no preconceptions, and I hate to say that when I started it, I found myself feeling a little irritated. Animated in a style reminiscent of Zelda‘s Wind Waker, I was placed into the control of Lumina, a little blue girl with electrical powers, or a Teslamancer, as the game calls her. Without any real motivation I was made to navigate a puzzle using her specific powers (most notably her ability to teleport a few feet in front of her) all of which without much of a tutorial.
The theme of trial and error gameplay seems to be central to the experience of World to the West, as, for the most part, I found myself thrust into a sudden situation with the vague idea being “Okay, now sort this bit out.” I spent a good five minutes trying complete a particularly difficult puzzle during the introduction of Knaus, the orphan with a shovel, before realising that in fact I have just stumbled onto a glitch.
There were other gripes I had with World to the West as I started out on my journey; the story just didn’t seem to happen. There were odd goings on about totem poles and destiny and each of the four characters had the weirdest luck of bumping into each other at the most convenient of times. The totem poles, used as fast travel destinations, were only bound to the character that discovered them, so I had to travel back to a previous destination, change into a new character and then traverse the same area I had just been through to continue.
The gameplay could be absolutely infuriating at times, especially where it mattered most; the combat was just that little bit too simple, and I found myself struggling to land a hit because a simple punch animated too slowly. And the puzzles. Ah, those puzzles almost made me cry!
Picture this; playing as Teri, the “mercenary,” with a weird ribbon that controls the minds of those she hits. I was using an adorably cute and incredibly annoying furball of an enemy to navigate a puzzle/platforming section. I managed to grab the special key to get through the equally special door after five minutes of listening to an adorably annoying little squeak every time it jumped, but on the final jump; oops, I missed.
The furball fell into the abyss with a shriek, along with my key, and boom, everything reset. The key was back where it first was, and I had to find ANOTHER furball to navigate the same annoying jumping puzzle for ANOTHER five minutes just to get back to where I was before. Even thinking about it causes me to break out in a cold sweat.
The World to the West infuriated me time and time again, with multiple parts that in theory should have worked fine, but just did not do what they were supposed to. I wish I recorded how many times I screamed at the game for “Just not doing the thing!” But, and yes, there is a but, I found myself really getting into it; in fact, I actually began to really enjoy it.
Despite World to the West not having the greatest story, (four people drawn together to fulfill an ancient prophecy found in the ruins of an ancient civilisation), it more than makes up for it in the four main characters. I found them far more endearing than I care to admit. They all grew on me, especially Lord Clonington, the big, burly clone muscle man with a admittedly cute habit of breaking the fourth wall and giving me a little wink every time I body slam another one of those annoying furballs; a big plus in my books. Pictured below, these orange balls of fur make up the game’s most common and most annoying enemy; they squeak incessantly before headbutting you for no reason other than you went too close to them.
I do think, however, the moment I realised I was enjoying the game was just in a random part of the dialogue. Whoever wrote the dialogue for this game deserves a medal; it’s very rare for me to find a literal laugh out loud joke in a game. It is a bit of a blessing to the game that there was no voice acting, as I found myself giving certain characters their own voices, which really did help the comedy.
Last but not least, let’s talk about the soundtrack. It is brilliant! Putting it on top of the Zelda-ish visuals it is more than just fitting; it matches whats on screen in a perfect and incredibly catchy way. Each and every track, while not being something I would listen to outside of the game, matched everything I saw on screen. I found myself more than once whistling the jaunty tune and tapping my foot as I sent a furball to the cold abyss of the sea.
World to the West is a mixed bag with gameplay, with a story okay at best. It is let down almost completely by the absolutely irritating puzzles and combat that just doesn’t work right. But its saving grace is most definitely the brilliant characters and dialogue that will grow on you far more than you would normally think. Coupled with a catchy soundtrack that sticks in your head, the game rises above its flaws to become an enjoyable, if irritating, journey to discover the secrets of the prophecy that holds the four characters so closely together.
- Laugh out loud dialogue
- Soundtrack you can whistle to
- Fourth wall breaking clones
- Story is lacklustre
- Annoying furballs
- Can irritate you to the point of tears
Aside from the odd furball beating, this game is as family friendly as they come. PEGI 7. ESRB E Rating.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a digital code of the game provided by Xbox for the purpose of this review.